She calls me Pinka-rani; I say aaji zaadi ai, pun majhi ai


“This is my granddaughter… my daughter’s daughter,” says aaji as she introduces me to a diseased, impoverished-looking woman taking up the bed next to hers.
“Sister of the boy who brought you in?” she asks.
“Yes,” says aaji and turns to me to whisper, “They just brought her in here from the village and left her here. I’ve told the social workers about her and they’re paying for the treatment.”
“And did you see that fair, fat girl when you came in?”
“That woman there?” I ask.
“She’s a girl,” says aaji, “Barely 12 years old. Can’t do the potty. Brought her in and pumped her out. Going to do it again tomorrow ”
On every visit to the hospital, and they have been very frequent in the past year, my grandmother insists on being in the general ward where she can talk to everyone and have an audience.
She suffers from diabetes and a weak heart (three attacks in the past year), and on Monday they invited cancer into her well-loved body.
It has covered 73 per cent of her stomach. The stomach I cradled into; itโ€™s skin we blew against to make farting noises.
My family circus has moved into the hospital and I have varied reports from each member. So far it has been blood cancer, blood tumour, no not cancer, but some kind of tumour, cancer in the pelvic region and stomach cancer.
The tests continue.
Meanwhile, for the first time in 28 years, I can see the grey in my grandmother’s hair. She has always dyed it, in a defiance of age. Like when she danced all night on new years eve in 2006 and had her first heart attack.
She has begun to look like a man. The hands she raised for many a thwack on my back are black and blue with injection marks.
But she still gathers news of people she meets in the hospital, puts on an exaggerated show of pain when people visit and has a small joke for everyone.
Ajoba scans the newspapers for movies and plays he will watch with her when she comes back from the hospital. She has been bed-ridden for a year.
Two months into the new year, I don’t think I have the heart to see it through.


3 thoughts on “She calls me Pinka-rani; I say aaji zaadi ai, pun majhi ai

  1. Make the most of it. One day they disappear and every day of your life you think “Why dint I tell her I loved her more than anything when I could?” I think I’m going to write an aaji post too. My aaji has been the biggest influence on my life and I realized it only after she died.

  2. I am a devoted follower of what you write here. Hence i do not hesitate to contribute…something about nana, majhe ajoba ๐Ÿ™‚

    He started the tradition of gifting each grandchild (err he had 13!!) a wristwatch after “matriculation”. By the time my turn came, he was no longer alive! I scored the highest marks in S.S.C…higher than any of my family member living or dead ๐Ÿ™‚ But he wasnt there to see that!
    I have a recurring dream for many years now….where he lies in his room, i visit him, he cries, so do i! And he says something that breaks my heart “i was lying in this room for four years jamuna, and you did not come to see me once!”

    Tell your grandmom you love her…..i know you know!
    But still…


  3. Thank you so much for the advice, Jamuna and Ketaki. We aren’t telling my grandparents about the new disease. It’s my grandfather I’m most worried about.
    Ketaki, you should write that post. I would very much like to read it.

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