Relic of the present

We view our grandparents often as a relic of the past. Someone who will cherish us without questions, who bestow in us enormous affections without the fear of responsibility and, always (always, always ad nauseam ad infinitum) pamper us. Their opinions are indulged often with our own inner assurance that we know better. The importance of their presence, sadly but truly, diminish with time as we get caught up in our own lives.

I want to pause and, think of what my grandparents and, more importantly my grandmother (the only survivor of the set of four that was gifted to me when I was born) taught me. Of all the virtues she bestowed on me, one that will carry me through my life and, through many dark days is: Faith.

What is it that I remember of her? I remember a woman who stood for hours worshiping at a shrine. I remember a woman who told me stories of gods, men and morals. She instilled in me that these were not mere exotic creatures of admiration but gods who lived a man’s life and, suffered what we suffer. I never understood the stories, their meaning or their morals at that young age. All I knew was that I had to fold my hands, bow my head and pray for my spirit to be humble and, never be shaken.

Her unshakable faith and devotion defined my own. I found god in a hand that held me in a crowded temple. I found god in the lips that taught me how to pray. I was 7; she woke me up at 4:30 am on a Deepavali morning, massaged sesame oil in my hair and told me the story of Krishna. I was 12; I stayed up all night for Shivarathiri playing Paramapdham with her. I was 14; she held my hand chanting “Govinda, Govinda Govinda!” in Thirupathi. I was 16; when she stood day after day in the Murugan temple chanting Kandashashtikavacham.  I am 29 now and, the prayers I say are her words not mine.

To recall these memories I have no memory lane to travel back onto. No, these memories of the past and present are woven together like a rich Kanchipuram saree. This is the only piece of cloth that I will always have draped around me. I found god not through miracles but by witnessing faith, by witnessing patience, by witnessing a woman who prayed for the sake of love and, for all those she loved. I have seen god; she held my hand and never let go. Still.

~ MM