I have grown up hearing liberal amounts of commentry on how I resemble you of younger days. I would often stare with wonder at the black and white picture frame that adorns the top row of the photo wall at Harichandanam to draw a connection. The picture is of a young and fiery woman in her graduate gown who is refusing to let out the smile that is revolting to splurge out of her lips. The picture is of you.
I have always known that I have a great lineage to boast about, that I do not have an ordinary woman for a grand mother. When my friends told stories of weak grandparents who could barely walk, I had a power woman at home who would write pages and pages of content without a coffee break. The long list of your degrees that would put any modern academician to shame, the sheer number of countries you have visited as a scholar, the confidence with which you spoke English long after you crossed seventy - everything about you has been special.
On the other hand, you did those wonderful things that made me feel that I have a normal, doting grandmother. You told and retold the story of Cinderella every night yielding to my boring demand for the same story before I went to sleep. You made yummy Unniyappams so that I came home to a tasty treat after a tiring day at school. You inculcated love for plants in me and answered innumerable doubts of mine whether a particular plant can be grown with a thai or kambu. You also drew a lot of record pictures for me because you were good at drawing. When I come to think of it, what was it that you werent' good at? Cooking, painting, writing, teaching, loving, communicating - you were good at everything!
The other day, I received a book that Amma sent through a friend of mine. It is a biography of Mannathu Padmanabhan, your grandfather and the founder of Nair Service Society. The book is written by you.
The first time I held it in my hand, it was not the gleaming portrait of Vallyappooppan on the cover page that I saw. The effort you have been relentlessly putting into it for years, despite failing health - that's what I saw. I glanced through the pages, read some lines here and there, and I got a sense of the focus you might have had throughout the period that you wrote it without using anything but pen and paper. No computer or any other form of technology whatsoever to help.
I do not know if I would be ever able to tell you what I feel about you; especially after seeing the book that has been your dream for a long time, which now is a reality. You are such a perfect living example of how to make every dream possible. Achan wrote to me about your achievement and mentioned that you have defeated the concept of Alzheimer's Disease by completing such a monumental work at the age of 84. All I would like to tell you is that I am charmed. I can feel the depth and volume of the power I am inheriting through you. I am just so proud.
As I retrospect, I am reminded of the struggles you have gone through to get where you are - your childlike complaints about dear ones (never about me though, right?), the easiness with which you cry, the constant insecurity of being alone. I know that even in the pinnacle of achievements, you weren't completely happy for reasons known to you and me. But then, what is life without some rough patches? God does not give everything to everyone; but please know that you are a truly blessed soul.
I am at a stage of life where making the right moves is very important. I have to take decisions almost everyday which will affect the way my life will mould itself tomorrow. I want you to know that, at this point, my single most inspiration and motivation is you.
More than everything, I want you to know that I love you. I may not talk to you that often or see you that often. But I do not struggle any more to see the connection between you and me. I close my eyes and look within, and I see only you.
Congratulations on making yet another dream come true. Congratulations on being who you are.