Monday, August 6, 2007

Checking in

I haven't posted in forever because I've been out of email access. Well, accept at work. That's where I am now, after hours, blogging for blogging's sake behind the barrier of double-glass doors. Things in my life have been changing. In the span of a week I've shifted from a 10:30am wake-up call my trusted alarm clock to the 7:30am din of stray cat fights and metro buses; from choosing between eight different showers in a residence hall to crouching under a faucet, cupping cool water into my hands in order to avoid splashing the floor and causing a leak in my friend's apartment; from free access to my professor's home kitchen to warming dehydrated oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and noodle soup around the corner from the vending machine at the office; and from free 24hr high-speed internet access to the monitored browser that I must concede to any volunteer who stops by.

And my great grandmother died yesterday. That wasn't real to me until I just typed it. It's the least immediate and biggest shift of them all. I wasn't extremely close to her; I saw her five or six times in my life and strained to communicate with her over the phone on holidays since my Kannada isn't so great and her hearing is just a notch above that. Was. Her sons recently sold the house that her late husband had built for her--for all of them. They didn't consult their sisters in the matter, or my grandmother (born to her mother at the age of 13) would have surely refused. No one says it, but everyone feels the same way--it was the move that killed her.

Anyway, if I started this post on a track, I think I'm off it. Ammama's death changed my family. She was the matriarch, the reason we ever reunited. She and her sister held four generations of family together with their love and gambling luck. She loved Kit-Kats and hated being taken care of and refused lettuce and tomato and other produce brought to India through colonial rule. And I was born to be the only daughter of her daughter's daughter. The last link in the only chain of four women in my family-- who sacrifice self for the family, who deny needs to seem strong. I wonder how I live in relation to that legacy.

Her death is the biggest change because it alters how my family interacts. How we see each other. How we come together. Whom we stay up to call during Thanksgiving get-togethers, waiting in Seattle for the perfect moment between pooja and morning chai in Jainagar to call...just to ask "Heggiddiyara?"

...And yet I can barely feel the ripples of her passing from half-way round the world.

So I'm checking in. With myself. Acknowledging the decentered, uprooted feelings that set the standard for my day-to-day life right now. And letting myself be okay with that.


Anonymous said...

hey - i'm so so sorry to hear this news. hope you're doing okay. sarah

Anonymous said...

I have nothing profound to say and hesitate to utter the usual niceties that tend to accompany death. But, I wanted to let you know that your truth helped sooth some part of my soul with commonality. -Thank you