I had a bitter-sweet relationship with this woman of a kind. In my teenage years, we used to have a lot of petty arguments. It could be over anything and everything, and yet at the end of the day, we would always have made peace with each other.
Like most grandmums I think, she too had a soft spot for her great-grandson, my Brother. (like taking his side of the argument when he and I squabbled over everything that siblings would)
But that never stopped her for caring for me in the same way that she did for him.
She was the woman we would call first when we were down with a fever. (She used to stay sometimes at Father's paternal uncle - her son's - house. And look after his daughters after their childbirths, etc). And even if we didn't, she would call us up and check, telling us that she dreamt that we were unwell. And would come home to nurse us as soon as possible.
I still regret that I did not have the opportunity to care for her and nurse her in her last years on this dunya.
I remember talking to her just before she passed away - the last few times we spoke, we didn't exchange any words. We only heard each other crying.
She always dreamt a lot about people she loved. When here, she has recounted several dreams of her chickens and goats that she used to rear in India - and would worry about whether they were okay.
It is impossible that any post that I write does justice for the care and love she showered on us. I miss everything about her. She had dark complexion and was very tall. She was always chewing on betel leaves, something that all of us discouraged but she never heeded our advice.
The one thing handy in the simple bags she carried was always a big bottle of medicated oil. She didn't go anywhere without them. And this has rubbed off onto me too now.
She was one independant woman. She would take cabs all on her own (most woman her age are not able to manage that). She kept the two addresses - ours and her son's - in her purse and would just show it to the cab drivers.
Her favourite dishes were rasam and fried dried fish (sometimes she made the dried fish into a spicy sambal), and she cooked them the best too. I have not tasted anything that comes close to the way she made them.
She left to spend her remaining days in India when I was in my first year of university. I wish I could turn back the clock and be in that time space to be the decision-maker now. I would have never let her leave.
Relatives in India would write letters on her narration and we would too. We would call often too. One phonecall she made will always be unforgettable. The day after tsunami, she called home even before we could. She had heard the news that the waves had struck some parts of Malaysia and got worried about us here. This is what her love is about.
I still keep the ornamental piece she bought for our house safely. And also a black and white top she bought for me years back. I also keep some of her shawls, blouses and sarongs.
I tell AZ always that she would have showered lots of love on him too. And he recalls similar memories of his own grandmothers back home- both maternal and paternal. These two women also loved and cared for him with all their hearts. He has been the apple of their eyes. In years their memories were fading as they aged, they both remembered him clearly and treated, recognised and loved him all the same.
Like me, he too did not have the opportunity to be at their sides at their last moments. Whenever we both talk about this, tears never fail to well up in our eyes and hearts.
The best thing we can do for them now is to make lots of duas that Allah (S.W.T) forgives them and gives them a place in Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen.