I remember my pint-sized Nani, we called her Biji.
She draped herself in a white net chunni (scarf) and skinned chicken legs and breasts with her vegetarian hands to feed her next generation.
I remember she would eat a banana, a bowl of sabzi – spicy green beans made in a tomato, garlic, onion, chili pepper coating and half of a chappati as her daily requirements at 84 years of age.
I remember her walks up and down our cracked driveway praying to God that our family container would hold water.
I remember she prayed and prayed and prayed some more perhaps wondering how we got to this place, water spilling out, cracks in the family bucket and leaking all over the driveway. Puddles, we were puddles to our circumstances.
She’d pound away on the cutting board:
Onions, garlic, and ginger. Onions, garlic, and ginger.
Store sheets and sheets of minced ginger in zip-locked bags, breaking off a piece of this protective medicinal herb sheet for future sizzling pots of meat or vegetables.
I remember her skin draping down on both sides of her face past her chin as she sipped hot RedBrook tea with a splash of milk. It was routine, it was done a thousand times, and yet that cup of tea was something she had everyday, a ritual at 5:00 p.m. before my mom came home from seeing patients.
And then she would go back to her walks on the cracked driveway and pray some more and a little more and finally one more time as she walked back and forth, up and down, pumping lungs, heart, and soul for perhaps one more day on Earth to set things right, one more day on Earth to support my mother, one more day on Earth to organize her accounts, one more day on Earth to see all of her living children before she floated up to meet the ones she lost along the way.
I loved my grandmother and mother but they did not get me, understand me, see me for who I was or am. They imposed things on me and life is simply not an imposition. It is taking the ride for what it is.
An exhilarating ride that requires holding hands, looking at each other, smiling, and taking that next big dip together and then climbing back up for some more.
Meeta Kaur | Union City, California