At 85, she smokes weed, writes, drives & disappears on solo vacations…
It’s taken a little while for me to get back to my original chatty form but here I am. Let’s just say, I was dealing with what they call the vagaries of life in not such a good way. Anyway that’s not what I intend to write about. I would rather indulge in a bit of masala storytelling that India hides in its curves.
It was a working day when I met a person for a business meeting. But as it happens with meetings around here, we get to talk about much more interesting stuff than just the matter at hand. It used to be annoying at first but I seem to look forward to it now. While I give away guarded information about myself, I gratefully listen to every word that spills out from my company.
In this particular meeting, the “stream of conversation” had somehow reached the lawn where my colleague’s grandmother , Amma, sits all day smoking weed! She has a farmhouse and lives in a lavish set up with some 12 -1 5 rooms. She grows weed in her backyard, tends to it in the morning with immense love; orders her tea and carries it to the lawn where she smokes up some of her creation; puts on her thick rimmed glasses and controls her shaking hands till it settles on the page of her diary where she writes a new story every day! When I heard that, I knew immediately who I wanted to be when I “grew up”. I was in awe with just that line. I wanted to know everything!
Diaries, an antique Ambassador car, Celebrating Life
This grandmother has more feathers in her cap than one can imagine. Someone once told me that there is a car where everything opens but the door – it’s called an Ambassador! Amma is 85 and refuses to stop driving her antique Ambassador. And she does it with the kind of pizzazz that would make any other car manufacturer want to make her a brand ambassador of the model. But she doesn’t know that!
Her carefully guarded steel almirah is stacked with diaries of stories, a treasure for someone like me but these are to be cremated with her when she dies. She looks back at life and knows that everything we do in it are just to while away time while we wait for death to come, death only comes when you have suffered enough and paid for all the bad karma. If one is born, there is bound to be suffering that is the only way you pay for what you have reaped. In the meantime, she says, you build a fortune with your business, or slog at a job, or get married, have babies, get confused with love and people all just so you have enough to do while you wait for your time to end. Have fun while you are at it.
She has a boyfriend she relates to better than her husband. Her husband is still around and the three of them sit around at night and talk about old times. All in perfect harmony! And I cannot help but wonder where all this peace comes from? Is it a life well lived? I don’t think so. I imagine the lives of rich people to be full of trouble; sometimes guilt even. So where and how does this peace come from?
Private Journeys, Unknown Destinations
Every once in a while, without preamble, Amma disappears! She buys a ticket to a destination and goes holidaying by herself. She leaves no note behind either and switches her phone off for the entire time she is away. This is a pattern with her which all in the family know not to meddle with. But now she is old and one never knows what might happen. She understands that and calls once every night to let her family know she is well. But nobody has the permission to ask her where she is or her plans of return. This is supposed to be her hideout time and she is going to have it no other way. This, among many other interesting things is what she does to while away time.
There is no story in this post; just someone who has had a huge impact on me. Especially because I am in a country that is not known for people like her, stories like hers or lives like her. We are peeved with stories of rape that numb my soul for a while; but then I meet someone like Amma and something in me shifts. It gives me a reason to smile and something to look forward to in life or better still, create it while I wait. Wait for it all to pass over.
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