Miss. It was such a strange word, and it meant so much.
I miss what she looked like – the silver-grey-blue eyes, the eyes nobody else had, the eyes she prayed so hard I wouldn’t get. The eyes she told Ma were ‘strange’, the eyes she celebrated me not having as I screamed bloody murder in her arms.
I miss the way they twinkled every time she smiled, like a tiny little star glistened inside each of them, more than the diamonds in her ears ever could, as the corners creased and crinkled ever so slightly.
The same eyes that spewed forth tears and tears of laughter as we were doubled over on the sofa laughing at something all too inconsequential every single day.
Her constant laughter around her house as she imitated everyone we knew, down to their most subtle tics and quirks.
Peering over the balcony full of the plants she loved so much as we watched people go by on the streets below and she imitated them too.
Her neologisms and nicknames for everyone and everything, something I can’t resist doing now that I’m an ‘adult’ just like she was, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
I miss the extra puli in everything, just because I loved it like that, though nobody else could stand it. That little tongue smack we both did when the zing hit.
Talking to her over endless glasses of Cad-B as she cracked the silliest jokes, the funniest jokes, and sometimes the most scatological ones I’ve ever heard. Dirty jokes are even funnier when they’re from your grandmother’s youth, I’ve learned. And dick jokes never get old, they’re just flayed away.
The sound of the big steel drums as the lids clattered everywhere, as mixture and murukku and everything from paati’s last Grand Sweets haul came tumbling out of packets hidden away just for me.
The child who lay in her lap recounting absolutely irrelevant information became an adult who did much the same. Curls knotted from swimming, gentle hands pressed oil into my scalp and patiently detangled every last bit as stand-up comedians did their bit on Star Vijay.
I often find myself thinking of a stupid joke she would have loved, or that macroeconomics theory she would have explained to me had she been around. My grandmother, the economics genius who would likely have explained the Grexit, Tsipras and everything in between to me in the span of a few minutes was also the woman who watched what seemed like a ridiculous Tamil version of Grey’s Anatomy as we ate in silence.
I miss the situationally inappropriate giggling, the laughter that never needed a reason to be, but just was. The knowledge and security of those two arms, so similar to my own, enveloping me as I felt the things I needed to feel without saying the words I could have.
As I hurt, seeing the tears fall from her eyes instead of my own.
Of the parcels that came every month for that little girl when her grandmother lived quite far away, of the dozens of pattu pavadai that always arrived in brown paper bags, of sweaters that smelled of naphtha but were cherished for years like a dear friend.
I miss hearing “paati, Anu wants to speak to you!” in the background as you scrambled to the phone.
Of the crinkly silk sarees you loved so much and the best toilet humour I will ever hear. As the strictly vegetarian you watched me eat my very non-vegetarian KFC and made that ridiculous breast joke weeks before you left for good. That time Joey paraded your bra through every floor of the house and then dropped it on the porch as we cried with laughter.
Of the smell of love, now encapsulated in sambar and mothballs, of the coconut barfi that has remained a memory since you left.
To the warm, living being with two legs who is now a picture on my wall with those same twinkling eyes, consumed by the sizzle at the crematorium that fateful January morning.