Memories Are Powerful - Some of Them End Up Shaping Our Lives
It was raining heavily. What had begun as a little drizzle yesterday had turned into a steady rainfall by night. Today had dawned bleak and grey, and there were reports of flooding in most low lying areas of the city. This was precisely why Nysa was forced to stay at home today.
Might as well, she thought; as the water droplets rolled down her bay window. I better make the most of this forced shut-down she thought. I’ll check out the box today, she decided. She was supposed to clean out a box of memorabilia sent to her by her cousin last week. Her grandmother had passed away last month and this box contained the items she had left Nysa.
She went into the spare bedroom to retrieve the box her cousin had sent her. The first thing that caught her eye, was the name “Auwa” written in bright red marker by her cousin. The word meant ‘mother’ in Kannada, and Nysa remembered her grandmother had always been called Auwa – by her children and by her grandchildren too.
Looking at that box and the name, Nysa was swept away by her memories and emotions. As she looked back, she realised that even her earliest memories of her grandmother were not of a typical doting, smiling, candy toting, sweater knitting grandmother; but of a very practical, strong, witty, good looking lady with a sharp sense of humour! In fact, Auwa was the most practical person Nysa had ever seen!
Nysa had always been in awe of Auwa, who could single-handedly manage her daughter, her husband and her two sons with the precision of an army Major! Disciplined, hard, particular, practical and at the same time ensuring each of their comforts! She even managed Granddad’s ailments and her sons’ whims like a pro; all the while helping Nysa’s mom with Nysa and her brother!
One specific memory Nysa had of hers was her miraculous remedy for every ailment. She particularly remembered a special homemade candy Auwa had for sore throat – something with tamarind, jaggery, turmeric and some of her special magic – and just a couple of them (superbly tasty, by the way) were enough to heal the worst of the symptoms! Just like that!
As she went through the box, Nysa found Auwa’s coffee mug and remembered that Auwa was the only one to drink coffee in their tea-drinking household; and she was the only woman in her sixties, Nysa knew who was an ardent fan of Shammi Kapoor! Beat that SRK!!
In a society rife with bias on account of gender, financial standing, religion, cast, birth and what-not; Auwa was the only woman Nysa remembered, who insisted that one must go on to do what he thinks is the best for him, no matter what obstacles one faces. She never once let cry for getting treated wrongly; instead she told me to stand back up, doubly charged, against those who doled out prejudice and injustice. Nysa remembered as she lovingly placed the mug on her bookshelf.
As she delved further into her memories, Nysa remembered her Auwa as the most outspoken woman she had ever seen; although, not harsh, but incredibly witty instead! If anyone tried to get the better of her, she would answer them with such sarcasm veiled in wit and humour, that they would never know what hit them! But Auwa never insulted anyone, although, everyone got just what they deserved from her. And yet, she also had an excellent sense of humour and was the life of the party wherever she went. People loved her, and respected her at the same time.
As a child, Nysa always marvelled at the tremendous strength Auwa displayed; and her sheer persistence; and most importantly, she had always only seen Auwa smiling. Even when granddad departed for his heavenly abode, she kept going strong – for her children and grandchildren. Even when her legs gave way and it was difficult for her to move around, her spirit wasn’t broken. She was restricted to her bed, couldn’t walk much, but her sharp eyes missed nothing; her wit shone through her pain and her smile lit Nysa up every time she saw her! Even restricted to her bed, Nysa never remembered Auwa lying down on the bed during the day. She was always sitting up, prim and proper, ready for visitors, with her coffee mug beside her; and of course, happy to watch Shammi Kapoor on TV!
Auwa wasn’t born wealthy, Nysa knew; nor did she lead a lavish life. She had married a simple man with modest means and meager wants; but boy had she lived a full life! Nysa had only ever seen her as an elderly lady, but as she now held her earlier pictures in hand she saw – the lady was dressed to kill and looked like a million bucks! Nysa smiled now, thinking that with her looks, Auwa could have been a movie star and with her skills, a formidable national leader! And yet, she had chosen to make her husband happy. She had chosen to raise her children right.
Through her exemplary existence, Auwa had taught that it didn’t matter what you are born as or where; but it is what you choose to be, that decides your worth. Nysa felt tears sting her eyes as she thought that Auwa was the one person who had taught her to make informed choices and stand firm by them. She had taught Nysa that being a woman is not just about beauty; but about patience, perseverance, strength; it is about hanging in there and more than anything else, about finding one’s own happiness and nurturing it!
I am the woman she made out of me. Not by telling me how to be; not by teaching me what to do, but just by being “her.” A force to be reckoned with, a presence to be respected; the voice in my head! She gave me confidence, she gave me my nickname; but more than anything else, it was “her” I grew up in awe of; and no wonder, it was “her” I ended up being a lot like!
Nysa knew Auwa was a big inspiration to her; and her memories were what defined Nysa; made her the voice in her head, her conscience.