Tuesday 6 September 2011

A Strong, Strange Bond

It couldn’t have been mere coincidence that I was born on her birthday. It couldn’t have been just a game of numbers that our birthdays almost mirrored each other’s. Little would she have expected a gift in the form of me on her 54th birthday. Or maybe she did. For it was meant to be – meant to be the beginning of the connection we were to share. And ever since, both of us have always taken great pride in sharing the same birthday. That was just one way of showing our affection for the other.

As a kid, my happiest days were those when I’d return from school and find her waiting for me with the door open. Having her around made me feel so contented; lying on her lap made me feel so loved, so lucky.

She never called me ‘Nalini’. Why? Well, because I was special to her and she had every right to give me a pet name. She taught me Tamil, but maintained that it was important to build my vocabulary and speak grammatically correct English—an equally important language (which she spoke impeccably). I could say, she groomed the writer in me… (Many a times have I wished that she’d be alive to read my best piece of writing)… She taught me the prayers that I say unfailingly even today. She cooked my favourite dishes when I went to stay with her (she didn’t live with us). She made sure I ate enough and on time. She was very particular that I wear fresh, new clothes even at home. She liked it if I wore a piece of jewellery. She wanted me to learn and pursue Carnatic music – something she was very passionate about.

Of course, she pampered me. My temper tantrums almost always were answered with the I don’t really like what you are doing or saying, but I’ll keep quiet look in her eyes. I remember everything: the way she’d drape her saree; the loving tone with which she’d say, “Yes, child?” to me; her honest smile; her twinkly eyes; her gentle touch; her soft hands; her struggle for perfection (she too was a Virgo, after all!); her unconditional love for me; everything.

I had decided that my first blog had to be about something important! Rather, someone very important. And it had to be her! To make my first blog distinctive, I sat back to think of all that we had spoken about, all that we had shared... Blankness. Shutting my eyes, I thought hard… More blankness.... Memory lapses, I concluded. It had to be memory lapses! Disturbed that I couldn’t remember, I forced myself to do the only thing that could give me the answer—think more!... A black void. Why could I not remember what all she and I had spoken about? By now, the answer stared me in the face…and I kept dismissing it: No way, I said to it! But denial does not change a truth; it never has!

Slowly, I faced the painful, bizarre moment of acceptance of that truth. She and I had shared a rapport, a connection that many envy till date. We had great regard, admiration, and affection for each other. We were always there for each other. We were the apple of the other’s eye, the happiness of the other’s life. And yet?!... She had never told me about her childhood days, the world during her time, the pranks she played (if any). For some reason, I couldn’t even remember her telling me any stories—something most children would boast about. We had never had discussions about education, important events, socio-political affairs, work, family, people, nothing. We had never spoken to each other about our passions, our dreams, our aspirations, our ideas, our thoughts, our viewpoints, our lives, nothing!

Having accepted this truth, one question occupied every cell in my brain: Did we really know each other?... Suddenly, the feeling that I didn’t know her at all gripped me. Not knowing someone you’ve known closely and loved deeply for more than two decades of your life is a shattering realisation.

There’s so much we could have told each other. Why didn’t we? Maybe because we knew inherently that we didn’t need to converse to communicate with each other. We didn’t need words to bind us and to keep us connected. A bond so strange and so strong had to be exceptional. My paati (i.e. my grandmother) and I had let it be exactly that!


  1. Beautifully Written...very touching and thought provoking !!!

  2. Thanks. I'm happy you could connect with the piece.