Stories about grandmother

Arranged Marriages: How are promises of a lifetime made in one day?

I grew up with a mother who constantly wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn’t gotten married at 23. What if her college days were spent in Delhi instead of in her own small town? Would the lap of a big city nurture a strong independent woman just like itself? My mother was meant to go to a renowned college in Delhi but for some reason had to settle for the one which was a bicycle ride away from my grandparents’ home. After she finished her MA and graduated top of her class, the wedding talks ...

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Why do I have to pretend to fast when my “monthly friend” is visiting?

I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing, “Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain!” (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!) My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. ...

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Pakistan, I am of you, from you, and no matter where I am, inseparable from you

Once when I was six years old I sneaked out of my grandmother’s house in Lahore’s old Mozang neighbourhood and headed for the nearby Mozang Bazaar, a large market of red-brick shops over a hundred years old. The shops there fascinated me to no end and I was determined to discover kites – my main attraction – of every shape and size. Getting there was no problem as my grandmother’s laane ended in the bazaar itself. Once there though, I lost track of time and my curiosity led me to explore the entire bazaar. At some point I realised I was lost. ...

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Some wounds only death can heal

I remember it very vividly; I had driven down in my 99 Honda Civic which was a hand-me-down from my dad. The weather was surprisingly brisk considering fall had shot shades of winter in its early days. I walked up to my uncle’s door and found it unlocked, as always, and announced my entrance to the house. Silence was scattered around the house. All I could hear was the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I followed my usual trail up to the top level and towards my grandfather’s room. After three knocks and a slight nudge at the door, I ...

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Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 3 Written in blood

One day, I showed a letter to Hercules which my grandmother found in a drawer of this house.  It was dated June 1942. “Dearest Lily, It’s been a while since I wrote. The cook was away and we were at the club every day because nothing can persuade me to cook in this heat. All stoves are wretched of course, but these ones much more so. My respect for Indian haunches increases whenever I see our cook, all 200 pounds of him squatting at that blazing furnace for hours doing whatever it is one does with kedgerees and curries. And then if you please, ...

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14 hours without power and teetering at the edge of sanity

I recently experienced something that almost every Pakistani is familiar with: a prolonged power outage. It came on the heels of a public announcement that the government cannot vanquish the great beast ‘Power Shortage’ and the good people of this country must grit their teeth and hunker down for the collapse of civilisation. Notice the use of the word ‘almost’ in my first sentence? Yes, the people responsible for doing something about the crisis do not experience it at all. Maybe that’s why their actions, not to mention their comments to news agencies, lack a sense of urgency. Perhaps they no ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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My grandmother: The unwanted martyr

Normally, when my friends would tell me how their grandparents passed away, they would speak of ill-health and chronic pain, which one would expect as consequences of old age. I would, however, always keep that information about my grandparents closed off from the rest of the world. It’s a topic of great sensitivity amongst my family and has always been brushed under the carpet by my mother, as a way of preventing tears from streaming down her otherwise stoic face. After all, it’s not particularly straightforward for me to discuss the fact that my maternal grandmother was blown up by a ...

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My grandmother supported me through everything…now it’s my turn

We have all had grandmothers who spoil and love us unconditionally. Although they teach us the same things that our parents teach us most of the time, we truly understand those lessons when they come from our grandparents. They are also the ultimate praying machines. And I know that I am not alone in saying that when our grandmothers pray for us, we usually believe that their prayers are bound to come true. “Hamara aur kaam hi kiya hai beta? Bas tum log ke liye duaein karna.” (What else are we supposed to do now, dear? Except for praying for you ...

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My grandmother’s tales: Stories that painted our lives

It’s been a few months since my beloved Naani (maternal grandmother) departed from this world, leaving us in utter shock and grief. She slipped away so quietly, without a warning, without inconveniencing anyone, and without saying goodbye, that it has left a piercing void in our hearts. After attending to mourning relatives, taking condolence calls and repeatedly telling the story of her last moments, we are left with a hollow silence that permeates not only her home, but each one of our lives. Without her, we are like a flock without a shepherd. Ever since she left us, I have heard ...

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