Smell of love

My high school chemistry teacher, did not believe in love or celebrating festivals. He said love is merely an attraction and festivals are waste of time. That the sun rises and nature doesn't change, even if it were Christmas or Deepavali. Through his constant reminder, I was totally convinced about love being a mere attraction. Looking back now, I see why he said that to the 'hormone-haunted-biologically-charged' us.

I loved the festivals though.I secretly wished every week had one, so I can visit my mother's mom.  She is the perfect grandmother one could have. No matter how naughty I behaved, she always took my side and pampered me like a prince. She had a well maintained garden where I practised my archery skills on her bottle gourd and plantain trees.She loved feeding me with her hands.
This is the only photo I have of my grandmother, at my aunt's marriage.

She even baked cakes and biscuits using kitchen stove. She fills the pan with beach sand and keeps the baking tray on top of it and does some magic, which apparently we were not allowed to see. The whole home fills up with scent of baking cake combined with smell of burnt sand. And when its time to leave, we would have a personal conversation, sitting on the stone by the well . She would ask me to be a good boy, do well in my studies and always take care of my mom. Then she would give me a handshake, which would always involve a transfer of 10 rupee note into my palm. It was our secret.

I never realised her worth while she was alive. She passed away during my second year in college. My mom left in the morning after a phone call that said she was admitted in the hospital due to a failed liver.  Before noon the next call came. And I knew, I knew something bad has happened before the news reached me. Later I learnt that one of her last words were  "Srivats dont put your leg on me, sleep close to me". I figured she spoke under the influence of medicine.

In the last 14 years I saw her in every old lady I met. Few months back,on the way home from train station, I met a 90 plus year old Chinese lady, who sits by the McDonald from noon till night. She folds the cardboard boxes from McDonald and sells them to recycle shop. Out of love I brought her a pineapple cake, and she shook my hand saying "kamsia" (thank you in hokkien) several times. And so our friendship began and our meeting became regular. I say hi, sit next to her by the pavement and give her the bread, and she says "kamsia" for several times holding my hand and I say bye bye.

Few weeks back I shaved my head in support of cancer patients. The next time I went to meet her she couldn't identify me at first. After a second she started laughing out loud pointing to my shiny scalp. After several minutes of laughter we settled down. She was having her dinner which looked like rice porridge. She took a spoon full of porridge and signalled me to eat. I took the box from her and played with the spoon. I could clearly see its not vegetarian, nevertheless I took a spoonful and then one more.

Perhaps its worst food for my palette. But it felt lovely. Its true that there are no festivals or special days in nature. For rivers keep flowing into ocean and clouds keep moving. However on that night,while the florescent light of McDonald bounced off my shiny head, a festival was born. A festival where Chinese grandmother and her Indian grandson shared a fish porridge over laughter. And I swear, It almost smelled like baking cake and burnt sand.


Vidya said…
Aww Srivats! This post moves me. I lost my grandma recently and am going to volunteer in her honor! I am very proud to be associated with someone who has a heart of gold as yours!

That sounds really noble. I am not sure how much I am doing, I do little of what I can do, there are many people like u who do more than me.

And its not anything heroic, its only human, I mean how can u walk seeing a 90 year old work and not do anything ? its only human.

I am proud that you are volunteering and I really sorry for the loss, even while writing it i felt her, i felt her in my ever word. I wish I could say to her how much I love her
Ramesh said…
Wonderfuly Sri. You are truly one of a kind. A similar person became an internet sensation in China. Your action is no less noble.

Btw, it would be interesting to know of the "hormone-haunted-biologically-charged" Sri :):)
Anonymous said…
Hey Srivats, What a wonderful posts. I am really admire your feelings and kindness a lot. I love your writing skills a lot. I am a big fan of you. How you weave the post is awesome.
No one can easily predict at the beginning what are you going to conclude.
Keep blogging man !!

You just compared to me with someone who must be way better than me :)

hahah hormone haunted sri days are thankfully over

if only i had penny for every ahem ahem.. not this forum :)

U bring smile to my face everytime u comment :)

thanks thanks thanks what more I can say. :)

I promise to keep blogging :)
G.Ragavan said…
I know about your grandma connection. She is certainly with you always and directing/helping/guiding you for all the happiness.

Very nice post.

btw, why this word verification?
jehan said…
how i envy you... we grew up with our grandaunts only.. still doting and loving but i know the difference. I've seen how my parents were to their grandchildren and our nieces really adore them. they feel so secured when surrounded by their grandparents.

i think that i'm being too stiff lately. sometimes, i feel like my heart is emptied out of love, kindness, endurance already. the cultural difference (b/w husband and me), and the Korean society, and dealing with in laws are taking its toll on me.. but reading htis, i know that i also still have so much to give.. i'm just not opening my heart completely. thank you very much...
Swaram said…
Grandmoms are the best! And I could so see mine in your words Sri :)
Lovely post.
Sivaranjani said…
// A festival where Chinese grandmother and her Indian grandson shared a fish porridge over laughter. And I swear, It almost smelled like baking cake and burnt sand.

Awesome lines..
Grandmas r something more spl than our moms..
/She even baked cakes and biscuits using kitchen stove. She fills the pan with beach sand and keeps the baking tray on top of it and does some magic, which apparently we were not allowed to see. The whole home fills up with scent of baking cake combined with smell of burnt sand./
OMG! What a nostalgia!...same magic had happened in our maammai's ( We call our nanny as maammai) house too!
/Few weeks back I shaved my head in support of cancer patients. /
This is Sri! Really I'm inspired by your every post Sri! How much I should open up , I learn from u Sri! I wish I cld meet u someday n give u a tight hand shake to get all your positive energy from u!
@ Ragava


I jus removed it for like two hours and got spam comments :)

I know its a pain to post comments with the word verification, but somehow my blog site is prone to spam :P

Plus whoever posts comment , we would be sure they have taken the pain to post it :)

its completely natural to feel what you feel.

Women go through this phase after marriage and having kids changes so much, you change so much that you dont even know who u are anymore. Trying to keep up the identity with the married life is a challenge itself.

I wish I could talk to you more and be there for you in this situation.

Take care, Hugs !
@swaram :)

its been sometime since i read urs.. would stop by today :)
Pri said…
Really it touched my heart and reminded me of my grandma. I wasnt there when she passed away.I couldnt go as i was pregnant. Still she is in my thoughts always .....
jehan said…
hi Sri! thanks... i'm so away from my friends... and all i need sometimes is a pat on the head or shoulder... or be asked if am i doing good by the people i am actually here for...

everyday, i see on facebook where my university classmates are now. but like what Emma said in her message (do you still remember Emma (mybittersweetkoreanlife, i should think that in times like this, i did one right thing---that's raising my baby well.. indeed.. both of you always know what to say... indeed, i would love to have a talk with you... thank you very much...
jehan said…
hi Sri! my email is --thanks for the visit... btw, my big sister lives in SG too.. my mom and aunt will be flying there on oct for my nephew's birth..
alice said…
@Sri: I stopped by after a long time, and was glad to see another lovely post from you. You totally fill your posts with all heart without making them soppy or maudlin.

Let your chinese grammie know that a whole lot of your Indian friends know her, and wish her well :)
Josh Kenway said…
Brilliant post, Sri (if I may address you so) - very touching! Took me back in time, to relive my own childhood and times with my granny, who though alive, isn't capable of recollection of associated faculties, sadly!
@ alice

glad you stopped by and very humbled that you found my post uplifting :)

thanks so much

( if may i address so :))

Those were the best times right?
no matter how much money and other things we have right now, it still seems less merrier than before :) perhaps our expectations with life has changed the circumstances.

Josh Kenway said…
Sri, true indeed! I'd trade my life for times back then. I can hardly equate today to those moments of the yesteryears and I wonder what we would come up to in time.
deep said…
That was one amazing post.. loved every bit of it.. you have beautifully expressed the "smell of love" !!!
Superbly expressed awesome post giving an excellent description of eternal love... :)

Couldnt put it in better way

avvw after a long time :) very good to see u here :)


THis is all reunion here :) very happy to see you.

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