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Monday, August 22, 2011

Grandma's Watercolors

My avva (grandma) passed away recently. She left as peacefully as she lived. Days ago, we discovered that her nightstand was a secret trove of her original watercolors. Here they are.  


Saraswathi— or “Sara” as she was affectionately called by appliance repairmen, cleaning ladies, and friends at the Brookfield town hall senior arts and crafts classes alike— openly held fresh fruit advice, intellectual appetite, Connecticut air, curiosity, leanings for natural remedies like peppercorn and mint, and beloved Sudoku puzzles (medium and difficult levels). 

While her staples were satellite Tamil language SunTV or KTV beamed from India, I had the fortune of catching some HBO movies with her earlier this year. She loved Inception. I found myself trying to explain to her, as best I could, what was going on. She liked the action thriller The Jackal more than The Last Samurai. When I was a kid, the tables were turned. For me, she used to have to clarify plotlines of the dated courtroom/detective drama Matlock. To avva’s credit, I think I’m one of the few non­–senior citizens who still wouldn’t mind catching an episode. Though I never got into Star Trek like she did.

Spend a moment with her and you would have found only honey and no vinegar, a person brimming with a simple sweetness. A schoolteacher, wife, mother, grandmother, she was generous and big–hearted, earthed in something more basic and grand. Uncluttered, clean, simple, with a superhuman patience. Numb to gloss and glitter, void of bitterness. Seeing only goodness in others. It was the only way. Years ago, leaving a family friend’s house, she slipped and fell on a patch of January ice, breaking her arm. But even with a cast on that very day, and every day after and before, she remained perpetually cheery and breezy, melting away petty asymmetries and animosities. Somewhere, she’s ice–skating. Somewhere, she’s watching Lincoln Lawyer, getting a gritty courtroom drama fix. Somewhere there’s a place that we’ve been to, that no one has ever seen. 

Her papery, creased hands glided surprisingly quickly on an iPad. Not long ago, showing her how to navigate photos and  iTunes, as well as the Internet, I came across family photos at the Taj Mahal from our trip in 2008. She said she’d never been. “Your grandfather wanted to take me. He never had a chance. He loved me so much, I didn’t want to see it without him.”