I happened to lose my paternal and maternal grandpas when I was quite young but was fortunate to have my grandmas for a long time enough to realize their value in the family system, here I am just trying to put it in words.
Its a huge extended family we have on both sides. My paternal grandma though not physically in the best of conditions with her mobility chose to live most part of her life all by herself in a big family home at our native village amongst the company of other close relatives in adjacent houses. She was assisted by a trusted godsend for anything and everything that needed to be transacted with the world external to our home. When needed, she had the skills to arrange more personnel to assist. A natural effective administrator, she was the Sun of a solar system around her.
Our Hindu way of living loads our calendar with a lot of opportunities for family get togethers in the form of celebrating birthdays of Gods or as commomoration of the fall of demons of our mythologies and even in the form of anniversaries of dear ones we lose from our life over time. So nice of our parents (my dad and his siblings) that they tried their best to get back to our hometown for most of these events. For us cousins, the kido-army of the family it was pure fun to be together at the cost of parents' peace. Can't think of any better way to enjoy school holidays and experience tradition, goes without saying the never-ending array of authentic stuff to feed on. It used to be riot on the street with us being there with nothing to fear as almost all the houses were of our own relatives.
My grandma remembered to ensure every little detail is taken care of before we arrived including favorite snacks to be prepared. Arranging supplies of banana leaves to served food on, who said the west came up with the concept of disposables. Arranging for enough supply of milk during the days of our visit though we used to own cows but not as much to feed THE army, inviting people for occasions though snail mail, arranging for enough helpers with domestic chores. Remember, I am not talking of the days where everyone had a motorized vehicle to rush to the nearest departmental store to pick stuff or order online/ phone. We neither had the vehicle at home nor a departmental store in the village, nor a phone and online what?…it was all about planning and optimizing your trips to the nearby town. She did it best, on top of it being a consultant to the entire extended family on rituals, important dates of Hindu calendar, connect the dots when anyone tries trace through family history to recognize relatives. Many a times this exercise ends up converting friends and acquantances into relatives…
Moving on to my maternal side. Again, our typical summer vacations were spent 50-50 between pattern and maternal grandparents…never missed the hill stations or beaches. We just never knew about that kind of vacations. We used to call our maternal grandma as manni which means elder brother's wife. It's because she was the wife of the eldest brother in a huge family. Being called manni by the majority at home made her manni to all including her own children and grandchildren. She was no less than Leonardo da vinci to me. An encyclopedia of knowledge who could tell even the remotest of little story from our epics, who had gone through the pains of India Pakistan partition first hand and moved to India in those conditions with a few weeks old baby on hand (my mom) in 1947 to start life afresh. One who was oozing ideas and who could also implement those ideas be it sewing, cooking, sketching, making innovative effective tools, so much so well that even at an age of 96 she found a way to neatly remove a hard p-o-p cast on her broken hand. A person who I've never seen complaining even once in her life time about ANYTHING, something I wish to follow, the rest of her talent admittedly is beyond my abilities.
Too many words, still failing to express all my thoughts about my grandmas. If you try, I am sure it'll be no different.
As long as the grandmas were around, they were the hub of activities. Either directing others on some next-steps or in their later days, indisposed, drew friends and relatives from far seas visiting constantly or ringing in to check on them. And suddenly it stops. It stops so abruptly that it is impossible to miss. Every time I go to my village
home house now, yes, without her it looks a house. The silence is deafening. It's long since all the cousins got together, maybe the last was when she left us…
Grandma! undoubtedly, are the glue of families. Anyone having a grandma now don't fail to appreciate, thank and take care of them. Ones who don't have their grandmas, don't forget them and their contributions to your life.