Ammamma

My maternal grandma is a refugee from Myanmar, then Burma. She came to India walking with thousands of other refugees in the 1930s. I am told she came here with her sisters leaving her brother and uncles behind. How they walked from Burma to reach Chennai, then Madras to put up a base terrifies as well as surprises me. Such hardships to just be alive 😭

My earliest memories of her are many, but what I remember is asking my mum to tell me her story many times, how was their childhood, what did they do to pass time..much how Moo asks about my childhood every other day. Kids really like imagining their parents as kids I guess 🤷‍♀️

My Ammama along with her sisters and other cousins worked hard from a young age to make a life for themselves. One of her sisters didn’t marry to take care of the family – she went ahead to become a bank manager, a big thing in the 1960s. The man my Ammama married so wanted a son after three girls that when he heard that the fourth pregnancy resulted in twin daughters he didn’t come home for 10 days. My mum is the elder twin. He passed away soon due to some illness making his widow bring up five daughters single handedly. She was a strong willed lady and never let anything deter her. She was a medical receptionist with the city hospital and so always had government quarters allocated to her. She put her younger daughters in hostel and sent her eldest to her banker sister for helping out in studies to work two jobs and pay for all. One after the other each of her daughters graduated and became earning members of the family.

She doted on her grandchildren like any other granny and always had stories and sweets to share. She was courageous and stood up to her relatives and society when her second daughter came home within six months after marriage stating she wanted a divorce. This was in the mid 80s!! She supported another daughter who wanted to marry a guy she loved following another religion and didn’t bat an eyelid when the said daughter converted her religion. Many deterred her into giving my mums hand in marriage to a man who lived and worked 2000km away from Madras.

There are so many instances where she went against what was the norm in those days – it is not that she didn’t make any mistake, but she accepted them and owned them and there in lies the beauty of her heart.

She had a nose pin or mookuthi from her mother which she had brought with her when she migrated. It is made of white stones with a base of gold. This precious and old heirloom is not meant for any of her children or grandchildren can you imagine! She had pledged it to be gifted it to my brother’s wife when he marries. This she told my mum when she saw her grandson( my brother) soon after his birth. And no he is not her first grandson 🙂

She worked till she reached her retirement and passed away after battling stomach cancer. I was 10 at that time. I have her memories up until that time, the house she last lived, the way she travelled to our home in Gujarat as a surprise without informing us, her way of plaiting my hair, her beautiful face and smile – she used to tease her granddaughters ( we are 4 ) saying ‘I wonder which of you girls will get the Burmese smile from me’

My girls are quite young to understand the richness of their ancestors, but I hope to recall their great granny’s story one Sunday afternoon. That we might still have long lost descendants in another country is fascinating in itself.

Prachee, your post was the trigger to write this ❤️

The one where I think if this is real life

I feel a sudden change in the kids behaviour. It’s as if they have grown up overnight. Moo came home from school today and showed me what all homework needs to be done. She said she wants a break and then get started on it. She did exactly that, proceeded to finish all of her homework and created a makeshift ice cream shop using a pillow and two chairs replete with a menu and a lego block of ice creams while I was putting Boo to her evening nap. All this without a sound so as to not to disturb us 😭 She even gave me a receipt for ordering a mini strawberry in a cup and asked me to throw the used cup in a bin to keep her shop clean 👀

And her sister is following suit. Today after her morning nap she was playing all by herself without making any noise or sound while I was in the kitchen. She usually lets out a cry when she opens her eyes but today was playing nonchalantly even after an eye contact with me. She will turn 11 months in ten days and already acts like a one year old.

Who exchanged my babies 😳😳😳

Is this a one off ‘good-behaviour-in-kids’ day? Or the calm before the storm 😩

What to-do list

Sunday night and the week is starting tomorrow and there are still so many pending chores. I make all this to-do lists in my mind that would help me pass the week without much effort but I get hardly any of the things fully done. Instead of writing them down on a notepad and laughing at myself when I see them unfinished I have decided to make the list in mind itself. Not having a visual representation makes me feel better <I live for cheap thrills>

Also I see that my mind is not focusing on one task these days. I want to keep away Moo’s clothes inside her cupboard when I find the shelf needs a wipe down. I go to the kitchen to find a wipe when I see I haven’t kept the yogurt back into the fridge. I open fridge to keep the yogurt back when I see I haven’t plucked the methi leaves and chucked the whole bunch in from yesterday’s grocery shopping. I take it out to lay it on the kitchen platform when I find Boo has had fun with one of the cupboards and all contents are strewn around. I don’t want to pick them up now but I hear Zack doing the vacuum so I might as well pick it up so that the kitchen floor is easy to clean. Do you remember what I was originally meant to be doing? I don’t and that’s how none of the chores ever get done fully.

I soaked the ingredients for grinding dosa batter tomorrow morning. And it was not in my list. My mental to-do list is also a to-throw list 😩