I lost my grandma, my Aji, this week. One of my greatest gifts was to have all four of my grandparents well into adulthood. She was my last grandparent to go and although she was ninety-five and lived a healthy and full life she took with her an entire generation, my connection to an entire era, an entire chunk of my childhood.
She was an avid reader. Some of my first discussions about books happened with her. The week before she died she read four novels.
For her, I have what she gave me, words…
What should an Aji be?
Kind Wise Affectionate
What about taste and flavor and food?
Crunchy sesame seeds in perfectly roasted jaggery.
Flavor seeped deep. So deep in your tastebuds, so consistent, so same always, it was home.
What about smell?
Buried in softness, of age, permanence, labor, simplicity, of a body slowly going, but still always there. To squeeze and hold and draw comfort.
What about childhood afternoons spent reading, my head on that squishy arm?
And that rock of sugar on my tongue to stave off the dry brutal heat?
Of pictures on walls, of children and pride and how families should be.
Of a swing on the veranda I could turn into a ship.
And of stories
so very many stories
That Mr.Rochester who loved Jane so much and yet, for honor, for morals, for character, she had to say no.
That Count who was never a count who hung from a cliff and dug through the earth because revenge was so sweet
Of the world changing beneath her feet
Of divorces and marriages
and greatgrandchildren and homes broken
Of shame and heartbreak and love so even, so in it’s place yet so undying
What of the fact that you were my last grandparent
And you were always supposed to be there
No matter how long it took me to come see you?”