I had a Periya Patti (My grand mother’s elder sister) named Visalam. She used to frequently visit us at our place and stay with us for quite a while right since I was a kid.
When I was a kid, I used to love listening to stories, so every time she visited us, I used to bug her to tell me stories until she got tired. And she used to patiently oblige me every single time. She also used to make some yummy sweets at her place and save a portion for me, to give them to me when she visited us. She loved talking and loved to listen to me babble, even more.
As I grew older, my time with her became extremely restricted – not that she had stopped visiting or someone had prevented us from talking, but my interests had changed. I wanted to stay with people of my age, wanted to interact with people who were cool, who taught me new, tacky, cool stuff. I began to spend more time with gadgets, than with the people around. Though I was extremely polite, well behaved and courteous, I did not continue to share the same rapport with her that I used to. Every time she visited, she looked forward to meeting me, and I would politely meet her, greet her, help her with what she wanted and then I would go back to doing what I was doing. The bonding though, was lost. From my end. Because I thought she was uncool to hang with. Because, I became busy bonding with people who I thought were cool enough.
As years passed, she grew old and her trips began to reduce. She couldn’t travel the way she used to. I grew up as well, old enough to choose the importance of real warmth, understanding and affection over peer-swag, “cool company” and the put-up love. And I eagerly looked for her to visit us again. And the next time she did, she bought few coffee flavored toffees with her. And gave them to me with so much love that I couldn’t even think of refusing them, though I hated everything coffee. So I took them from her, opened one and popped it into my mouth right in front of her. And beamed at her. And told her that I loved the toffee and thanked her profusely for bringing them for me. She just smiled in response and pulled me into an everlasting hug. The moment was priceless. She then made me sit down next to her, and told me to simply talk to her. I was moved. So, I began to tell her the happenings of the day and all that had happened in the past years. She listened keenly, to the most minute boring details and kept appreciating, consoling, cheering me as was appropriate. Not once did she frown. Not once did she lose her patience. I remember the number of times I had frowned and had lost patience – when it was actually my inability to bridge the generation gap, when it was my inability to extend my hand to help her at her ripe old age and match my pace with hers, when it was my fault that I didn’t take time out to sit with her, spend time with her, listen to her share her experience, take in her words of wisdom. But. Not once did she complain. Not once. She just loved having me by her side, and kept me close to her, calling my name fondly every now and then.
A year later when she visited us, probably one of her last visits to our place ever, she bought me a huge packet of the same coffee toffees from the money she had saved and the moment she saw me coming, with trembling hands, she took the packet from her bag and thrust it into my hands. She told me “Last time I gave these to you, you loved them. I thought you would still like them. Last time I had bought you only very few. So this time, see, I have got you a huge packet.” and she smiled a huge, innocent, “full-of-warmth” smile. I was beyond moved. Somewhere in this big rat race that I have been running, I was lost in the fake warmth, put-on smiles and the cool-dude attitudes. In a world where people think before they reach out to help their own parents, here was a lady who just wanted to see me happy, without wanting anything in return. Here was a lady who just wanted my time, my love and warmth, who loved me for just exactly what I was – without any expectations.
It’s been over 2 years since she passed away. I didn’t realize her value when I was young, when she was agile, when she had time. But now, when she is no more, I miss her. I miss her warmth. I miss her presence. And yesterday when I was craving for chocolates, and spotted a packet of the same old coffee toffees that she used to give me, I grabbed it right away and went back home reminiscing the old flavor, the old memories, recalling my time with my Visala Patti.
That is why, perhaps, you always, always have to love, support and spend quality time with your family. With your friends, with people whom you call your own. You don’t have to have a huge circle or a big list of Facebook friends/Twitter followers. Even a small circle of people who love you for who you are, simply because they are happy to be part of your life, will do. So tell people you love them, when you can. Make them feel special. Make them feel they are important to you. Time flies. There’s no point regretting when people are no more. Make them feel good when they are alive, with you, in flesh and blood. Seize every moment. Make every moment a beautiful memory to cherish. Make your every moment a blessed nostalgia.