Amma was a formidable lady in her white starched sari, always in control and in-charge. I had never seen her frazzled, angry or upset with anyone or anything. Was there some ancient mantra she practiced? I thought.
She played various roles of an adviser, companion, friend, or she was sometimes an adversary for my aunts or simply a responsibility for my uncles. Though she was my maternal grandmother, she became my amma or mother, after my parents passed away long time back.
‘Why is aunt always thinking about my cousins and not me, she never tells me to study or scolds me?’ I asked amma one day.
She looked at me thoughtfully and smiled, but remained silent.
That day amma didn’t call me for dinner! This was the first time in thirteen years, she ate without me.
I was upset, close to crying and didn’t speak to her. I sat, sulking, under the banyan tree in the courtyard the next day. Suddenly, I felt something moist touching my feet; it was a small brown Labrador pup licking my toes. Overjoyed I squealed and picked it up. Amma was standing smiling at my delight.
‘Why amma, is this an apology?’ I asked in my superior tone cuddling the pup.
‘No child, it’s time you learn a lesson,’ she said and sat beside me. ‘When you expected I will have dinner with you and I didn’t. You were hurt and sad. Today you got a gift without any expectations, it brought you pleasure.’ She lovingly stroked my hair. ‘While having expectations from someone close to you is healthy, but having hopes from everyone will bring you pain and disappointment.’
I sat there nodding my head, absorbing her wisdom mantra.
‘But, promise me you will never have dinner without me, ever.’
She chuckled, ‘Never.’