January 13, 2008My grandmother died yesterday.
'Do you recognize me?'
I am sitting at my grandmother's bedside. She barely seems aware of her surroundings, much less of me. It is possible (likely) she will never again look on my face and know who I am. When she does find the strength to lift her head her watery gaze passes right through me. But what did I expect? Our lives have only intersected at a handful of points in time. My grandfather did not acknowledge me, towards the end. Why should she be any different?
My tears are unnecessary and unwelcome. She is ninety-one years old. Her strength is gone - it flowed out of her and into her children, her grandchildren. I am part of her living legacy, foreign and strange as I am. Rangana's daughter.
When someone finally remembers to introduces me as such, her almost-blue eyes fix on me. Slowly, one wrinkled hand emerges from the rumpled bedclothes. I take it tenderly, hyper-aware of her fragile bones. My hand feels healthy and too heavy in comparison. She mumbles something even my mother, who speaks Tamil (her native language), can't decipher.
She pulls her hand from mine, and then extends one gnarled finger towards my chest. Shakily, she traces the embroidered pattern on my kurtha. I lean forward and allow her to do it. After a moment, her hands drops and her eyes close.
Everyone tells me that she is healthy for her age. I've caught her at a bad time. But part of me thinks this will be the last time we see each other. And there is not enough time; there will never be enough time for us to know one another.