A Night With My Grandma
Posted by Susheel Nair on Jan 14, 2013
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.