In the UP countryside, in a small village of Raebareli, there once lived an elegant elderly lady – my maternal grandmother (or Granny, as I’d like to call her). Her mud-house lay in the corner of a square tract of land, bounded from all the sides by bamboo sticks.
She liked to spend most of her time in the garden and orchard in the remaining space where she would grow fruits like guavas, bananas, custard-apples and dates. The bougainvillea, planted alongside the boundary line, grew well and covered the wall of bamboo sticks at many places. When it bore flowers, the scene was a beautiful one and a treat for the eyes. There were bella plants too, whose fragrance would fill the courtyard in the early hours of the morning. A date tree stood just next to the small gate – and the dates it bore were really sweet. In a corner, there was a blackberry tree which would give juicy black fruits during the hot summer. It was simply delightful to enjoy them with a pinch of salt under the cool shade of the tree itself. Similarly, the half-a-dozen guava and custard-apple trees used to bear sweet fruits too.
Personally, I enjoyed the custard-apple the most – and it still reminds me of Granny whenever I see the trees. I remember well that when we would pay a visit to her place in the summer, we would find that she had already plucked some raw custard-apples and put them in an earthen pot (matki) to help them ripen sooner, so that we could enjoy them.
All these trees and plants grew wonderfully, all due to her efforts. As far as I can remember, she was in her 60s back then – but still, she was energetic. I also saw her taking care of the flowers – the marigolds and the bellas in her compound, After finishing all the chores, she would walk around her compound, water the plants – and, if required, make a fencing of sticks or burnt bricks around the trees to save them from wandering goats and cows that would barge into the courtyard sometimes.
She was a pious, god-fearing, generous and charitable lady, who was always ready to help others. She would feel pleased and happy after giving alms, and I never saw her rebuking a beggar. Through my constant visits, I came to recognise the beggars’ faces, who would come to her door from time to time. Not only did they receive alms, Granny also gave them some old but usable clothes from time to time.
My mother was her only daughter – and she would take special care of us whenever we visited her. I still remember her beaming face and the delicious, indigenous dishes she used to cook for us.
One morning, when I was in my school, one of my uncles came to take me back. I was shocked to hear my Granny had passed away. Streams of tears rolled down my eyes. I had never felt so sad and grief-stricken before – and I felt as though I had lost something very precious thing to me. May her soul rest in peace.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.