It’s a shady afternoon and I hear two girls giggling merrily downstairs.

Girls in their late 60s. My grandmother and her older sister. Both have lived a lifetime. Both widowed more than two decades ago.

I’m amused. My curiosity pushes me towards them. I greet them. My grandmother, whom I fondly call “Ammi” (meaning mother), because my mom calls her so, is seated on her ‘taqat’, a needle and thread in hand. “Khalammi,” (meaning mother’s sister), is seated beside, her white shining hair speaking volumes of the long decades of wisdom.

They chat leisurely, hardly looking at each other. I can feel the calm and total ease surrounding them. Neither of them in any hurry. Neither of them has a worried father to answer about their whereabouts. Or a a sweet husband who’s anxious for her return. Neither of them has young kids waiting for their meals to be cooked and most importantly…neither of them is BORED.

The topic of their current discussion is how women (whom they call “girls”) of the present day get tired easily and how they, in their days, did with ease, work 10 times more than today’s “girls”.

I stand smiling all this time. Unmindful that they have hardly noted my somewhat long presence at the door right in front of them. They ask me to sit. They continue. My grandmother gropes for the petty things before her. She has been a diabetic for 12 good years. Sugar has had its bitter effects on her body but not on her spirit.

“What are you looking for?” Khalammi asks Ammi.

“Did you see my scissors?” Ammi asks.

I wonder… Would my sister and I be looking like this some day? I hope so! I like Ammi more than her sister. One — obviously because blood is thicker than water. Two — she’s more dynamic. She’s lonely, yet manages and takes care of herself in a way I admire the most. She gets up at five every morning, in an age when she can, she’s expected to, and maybe NEEDS to relax the most. Never once did she use an alarm clock! She’s the oldest in the house, financially independent (in fact supporting others) by god’s grace, emotionally fit with wisdom oozing through her words always. Her passion is gardening whose fruits are fresh vegetables.

“Can’t you break the thread with your canine?” Khalammi interrupts my chain of thoughts, “Though even I can’t ...”

“Oh with these artificial teeth of mine, you expect me to do that?” They begin a fresh round of giggle. How easily they laugh at themselves! About things the young would generally be embarrassed.

What it must’ve been when they were young? How did they look like? Are these the very people who once did gymnastics? Are they the same bones? What will I be like when I’m there? What will I have achieved in life by then?

But then, at that point, would it even matter?

At peace they are with themselves. I don’t know how they looked like in their youth. To me, they both looked much beautiful now, experience being their greatest jewel.

I smile to myself, get up and offer help, thread the old eye of the needle carefully and bid them a “see-you-later”.

P.S-Take care of your elderly. They are a lot more precious than you know.

(The writer’s email: maira_smily@yahoo.co.in)

Keywords: human interest

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