A Night With My Grandma

Posted by Susheel Nair on Jan 14, 2013
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I am learning from my own life that its far more easier to be a financially successful entrepreneur than to sustain a Gandhi in every little moment of our life. But nothing comes without conscious practice and inspired action, does it?

I remember my late grandmother, back in Kerala during my school vacations.  We had a large garden cum mini forest in our courtyard which used to be terribly dark after sunset and especially during the long power cuts which I hated, as an urban kid. During one such dark evening, I was sitting on the portico with grandma lamenting on how boring villages are without power and TV -- when she told me how I missed to see the true gifts God sent us everyday. Curious kid that I was, my eyes lit up with the word ‘Gift’ and asked her to show me. That night I haven’t forgotten till date.

She told me to sit still and ‘watch’ the darkness. I sat there beside her and looked into the darkness and was slowly overcome with a sense of growing awareness that I could see a lot more than I’d imagined. My eyes were more than what I’d thought it to be. I could see the bandicoots, the mongoose, the little birds adjusting into sleep, the outlines of that large cashew-nut trees, the direction of the gentle breeze, the melody in the notes of a distant cuckoo responding to one of its kind as though they were creating a duet and much more. Just as I thought these were the gifts, she asked to be attentive with my nose. At first, there was nothing, but then slowly and in increasing strength, I could smell fresh blossoms of Jasmine from the large bush ahead and for the first time, I learnt that flowers bloomed in the night.

When I asked her why only nights, she said (and I will never forget) that flowers were too shy to show up blooming in full daylight and preferred to share their fragrance incognito. She said it was how God functioned, not opening the gifts for you in daylight recognition but sending you the fragrance of his existence even in the darkness of ignorance. He claims nothing as His doing yet we all know He’s behind it. Botany classes later in school, taught me the anatomy and mechanisms of such flora but my grandmother had instilled a deep sense of respect for nature that no class room could impart. I have been a nature lover ever since and among many things, I ended up saving that patch of land, the trees, the jasmine bush and everything else flora when the partition happened after she left us. While others in the family cut and sold their land to lucrative land deals over the years, our gifts are still intact and gifting everyday, whether I am there or not, to whoever that cared to stop and be still.

I live in the joy of knowing my friends -- the bandicoots, the mongoose, the birds, the insects, the cuckoos, the trees, the jasmine bush and many more, who  still a place they can call home (which is unfortunately now the only piece of large wooded land in what was once a simple, green, forested village).

If Gandhi’s sandals were a gift someone gladly received incognito, I received my grandmother’s sandals in my heart -- which have since subtly grown within me, into who I am today. She lived to 96 years before she peacefully passed away, sowing many such seeds in random hearts that may now have grown into full trees whose shade she knew she couldn’t own.

While my corporate experience may insist numerical progress as an indicator of a healthy bottom line, its gifts like these that gives me strength to place my heart where the penny is. 

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Comments (7)

  • Vinya Sankaran Vasu wrote ...

    Susheel, thank you so much for sharing this profound wisdom from your grandmother. I could see her sitting in her angelic charm and talking to her grandson about some lessons for life draped in the words of pure simplicity :).

  • sheetal wrote ...

    A bow of gratitude to all the grandmothers of the world for planting such potent seeds in their grandkids..

  • Somik Raha wrote ...

    Beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing, i feel privileged to read your grandmoter's wisdom.

    I also wonder what would happen if we saw the corporate world with the eyes you acquired later and not the ones that just saw darkness.

  • neha jain wrote ...


  • Afreen wrote ...

    Wow! I have tears in my eyes reading this beautiful reflection. Your words pull at the deeper heart strings. Thanks for sharing such a personal, honest and touching perspective :-)

  • Susheel nair wrote ...

    Thanks everyone for your kind words of appreciation :)

    Hi Somik, its funny you say this, coz after quitting my years of corporate life, I have started an experimental business that tries to bridge deep spiritual values with high professional excellence. I don't know if it can be achieved but what I know is how self-transformational and therapeutic the journey is personally for me (and my staff).
    Indeed as Nipun says, corporate heads are not evil people scheming and conspiring to rob and exploit the world, its just a fundamental design flaw of the system which discourages or terms as 'weak' any display of human empathy in management.

    Thankyou Afreen :)

  • Lavanya wrote ...

    One of the most touching stories...the first time I read it, I couldn't respond immediately. I found myself reading it again and again. Very moved to get a glimpse of your grandmother through this...my deepest gratitude to her and you for sharing. As Somik said, if we could carry that heart and eyes with us into other environments, wonder what would happen? I'm trying that in the classroom...