My grandmother is probably over 95 years old. I say probably, because given her age, there are no records to pin point a date of her birth; only an estimation made on the basis of the ages of her siblings and children. It might be a few years more or less, we are not very sure. The point is, she is very old.
And I never really thought much about how old she really is. Until few weeks back, when I met her after a period of almost one and a half years. Because of work, I have not been able to visit home properly since some time. But some weeks back my dad called me up to inform me of the state of my grand mom, and I booked a ticket home as soon as I could.
She couldn’t recognize me the first time I met her after so long. She asked me who I am. Along with her hearing and eyesight, her memory too was slowly shutting down. The size of her body had decreased and her coiled body occupied half the length of her bed. The bed where we as children used to sleep next to her as she would tell us stories about faraway lands, kings, princesses, and magic.
She asked me who I am. I looked at her. I couldn’t answer. The muscle mass in her body had decreased to non existence, and all I could see was a wrapping of wrinkled skin on her bones. I could see the skull beneath her face, its shape ever more clearer. The size of her head was tiny. I realized it wasn’t like this before. Old age has has shrunk her body, physically, mentally.
She was in pain. All she kept on saying was, “Why doesn’t God take me already”. She wasn’t ill. She wasn’t sick. She was just old. The cells in her body shrinking. Dying. What lay before me was a caricature of her former self. A former self of majestic appearance slowly being reduced to its final form.
Of all the memories I have of my grand mother, I always remember her as a powerful figure. A strong character, even though physically old, but with its own presence. She was a combination of strength and kindness.
And here she lay before me. Not even a shadow of her former self. Small. Fragile. Like a new born baby who cant even eat with its own hands, but needs to be fed.
I felt sad. That I had to see this. That nature works in these ways. That if I was lucky to live a long life, I would probably be in a similar state. My body reduced to almost zero. My consciousness flickering like a dying lamp.
Nothing is permanent. Not my grandmother. Not my parents. Not me. Death waits for us all. To take us back to where we came from. Inanimate matter of the soil.
I felt sad to see her in pain. I felt empty at the realization of this cycle of life. But I also felt proud of my parents. To see them take care of her at this age when all hope is lost. Not many people are blessed with such children. Who takes care of their parents like they would of their infant babies.
I met her next day before catching my return flight. She recognized me, tried to hug me. I could see emotions of happiness on her face. I cried inside.
I will miss her when the day comes.