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Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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All she needs is love

Serial fiction inspired from a life queen size

A Letter to Grandma

My dearest Grandma,

       I am extremely sorry to call you Grandma. You never let your grand children or great grand children to address you as ‘Valyammachi’ (Grandma, in Malayalam), because you feared that such an address will be an assertion that you have become an old lady. Fearing your reprimand, all your children, grand children, great grand children, and servants called you Ammachi (mother). And you wanted all your friends, neighbours and relatives to call you by name (Mariamma) unless they were several years younger to you. You used to declare that most of them were elder to you.

     Today, when my daughter insisted on buying a Pears transparent soap during our Sunday shopping at Spar, I suddenly remembered you, because that was your favourite brand for several decades. You had the habit of stocking at least a dozen of them in your wooden almirah.

      I remember your almirah which was customized as per your directions by the carpenter with three locks, fixed equidistant from top to bottom. You always ensured that none of us peeks through while you open it, and in case anyone tried to, you would position your tall hefty body to hide the view. But from what we, youngsters could get a glimpse at different points of time, we almost prepared an inventory of goodies inside it along with their location and shared with your inquisitive children who never dared to come near your almirah.

     They were prohibited from attempting to come near to the almirah from their childhood as you were sure that they would leak the information about the contents to your husband (our grandpa). Most of these Almost everything inside the almirah were ‘undisclosed assets’. And you used to declare that these contents were unaccountable before your husband. You proudly maintained the position that the entire source is from your benevolent brothers and nothing for your husband to take credit of.

         Not only the contents of the almirah, but also its keys were kept safe in your ‘madikuthu’ (the tucking of the cloth at the waist, while wearing it around the waist). We wonder where you hid them whenever you were moved to surgery tables. You might have reposed more trust in those lovely nurses than your own children. While you were on the surgery table, your children must have prayed and worried not only about your health but also about the whereabouts of the bunch of keys. But you always repossessed your keys from undisclosed recipients immediately after each surgery, in the post-operative ward itself.

   You liked medicines, hospital visits and long chats with your favourite physician, Dr Ravichandran. You even faced the surgery table with a smile. When one had to wait patiently for a word to come out of his mouth and lend his ears completely and place it in proximity to his mouth, and watch closely his lip movements to decipher what he says, how could you spend such a long time with him who was known for his irritating silence and expression-free face? Your unstinted faith in the doctor and in Allopathic medicines made you feel better, from rheumatic arthritis to hair loss.

     I used to see you popping several tablets of different colours into your mouth since your early forties. That is my earliest memory which I can recall of me as a nine year old boy, when I used to spend my days in your house, skipping my school due to frequent head aches.

      The reason for my frequent headaches was more of diagnostic in nature than of physiological. One needs a lot of personal experience to detect the existence and intensity of this most favoured disease among children as well as attention seeking adults.

      Not knowing my prize winning talent in Mono Acting practice, my mother used to be very sympathetic towards my plight. When evening ends up in unfinished home work, I start my head ache project first, asking permission to hit my bed earlier than usual. (There was a fixed bed time fixed unilaterally by my mother for me and my sister). While ‘mono acting practise would go on under my red blanket, my mother used to apply ‘Vicks Vapo Rub’ on my forehead. (That was her ‘ottamooli’, something like quick fix, for almost all the pains under the sun) Morning, when my mother and sister send their calls to me, my practiced dialogue flows back.

“Severe headache, amma..Can’t open my eyes”. 
     Finally, to my sister’s utter disappointment, my mother would declare, “Okay, let him stay in Valyammachi’s house”
    Winning the game, I would get up and quickly pack my small bag with my favourite books. My mother would bring me and my bag to your house which was a kilometre away. Explaining my severe headache condition, mother would hand me over to you. You would check if I have fever by placing your right palm on my forehead. I would act a tired look to convince both of you the gravity of my head ache. Both, you and mother were scared of that severe head ache as only both of you know how my Chachan (Dad) suffered before leaving us for ever!

     While my mother quickly had a bite of tapioca and chilly chutney, you placed a big spoonful of gooseberry pickle which you had prepared, for her to share it with her friends at school.

     As my mother departs to school, I used to come back to my true self. I enjoyed being alone in the house, most of the time I spent on day dreaming. Imaginations galore: becoming a writer, a priest, a saint, a bus conductor, bus owner, a singer, and many more. But your long conversations used to interrupt my dreams.

     After a very late, extensive tooth brushing, with a unique mixture of powdered salt and ummikkari (roasted husk of rice), you used to have your breakfast around 10 30 am. Then you would sit and read the daily news paper “Malayala Manorama”, rather loudly, not only the regional, but also the national and international news. You would plan the lunch only around noon as you wanted to serve grandpa, a hot steamy meal.

    As I lie down on the cot, bubbling with colourful imaginations and fascinated by the funny figures on the wall caused by withered paint and funny movements of ants, you used to bring me a glass of kanji vellam. (red rice soup).

 “When will grandpa come for lunch?” My innocent question would trigger an unending emotional narration from you.
                                               Will Grandma allow me to continue publishing the rest of this letter?

Click here for Part-2 'Hot rice in an emotional bowl'


  1. Awesome sir....
    very emotional and touchy, i was brought up by my Ammachi(grandma in Tamil)...
    I am happy to be with her for now....
    May be in future after years, i ll certainly miss her care.

  2. Joel John VargheseMay 31, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Excellent one, Sibichcha,especially in the 5th para where u quote " While you were on the surgery table, your children must have prayed and worried not only about your health but also about the whereabouts of the bunch of keys"!!!!

  3. Joel John VargheseMay 31, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    Excellent one, Sibichcha,especially in the 5th para where u quote " While you were on the surgery table, your children must have prayed and worried not only about your health but also about the whereabouts of the bunch of keys"!!!!

  4. lovely ! waiting for the next part eagerly :)

  5. I was totally involved reading this, sibichacha.. some key moments in our family.. miss ammachi..

  6. This has stopped at a Suspense point like the erstwhile suspense thrillers on weeklies and later in serials...hope she will agree to publishing the rest! - Ruby

  7. Of course she will! It is the only way you can let her know your bond with her is woven with snatches of memories! This is so wonderful to read!!!

  8. It takes a lot of love and gratitude to write such a sincere detailed letter to a Grandma. For the love that she gave you, this is the best gift that you can return. May her soul rest in peace and may she always hold a great place in all her loved ones' heart. I wish I'll have such a wonderful story to leave behind and a wonderful grandchild to write it! With Mariamma's permission, I wave the green flag! Keep going. Let her rock!!
    They say genes skip generations. Maybe that's why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable. ~Joan McIntosh


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