I put off writing about this for a long time. Mainly because I didn't want to think about it, and also because I wasn't sure what I would really say.
My grandmother passed away last week. She was 72 years old. She was on life-support for a few days, but eventually she passed away - peacefully.
When I first found out, I didn't feel anything. I don't think I understood (and I still don't completely) that she was gone. She had always been there for as long as I remember. I looked forward with anticipation every year to the day when the summer vacation started. That was when we would leave to go to my home town.
Some of my earliest memories of her, are of her teaching me different mantras and nāmams. Every evening, during the evening prayers, she would teach me one. Then in the morning, she would make me recite it to her. That summer I learnt a whole bunch of them. Sadly, I do not remember many of them now.
A few days ago, I sat down to eat dinner. I reached into my cupboard to take out a jar of dried mangoes. As I looked at it, tears welled up in my eyes. My grandma had made that for me. Dried mangoes are my favourite. Every time I'd come to India, she'd make sure she made some from that year's crop of mangoes - these were made from mangoes that grew in our house. When she grew older and could no longer make them on her own, she had our house-maid make them, but she would supervise the entire process. I think that's when I realized that she was truly gone. A little thing like that jar is what finally made me realize. But I know it is going to be harder for me when I go to India again... when I see her room... the pūja room...
The consolation is that she passed away peacefully, with my grand-dad, my dad, my mom, and my aunt by her side.
Whatever it is, she is in a better place now. And even if she isn't here in this world now, she will live forever in our hearts and minds.