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Image depicting My grandmother is the keeper of our family's heartbeat

My grandmother is the keeper of our family’s heartbeat

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In a small, sun-kissed village nestled in the verdant lap of Kerala, India, lived a woman who was the very embodiment of love and wisdom. Her name was Ammamma, which means grandmother in Malayalam, and she was the keeper of our family’s heartbeat.

Ammamma’s house, a quaint, traditional ‘nalukettu’ with an open courtyard in the middle, stood as a testament to the years gone by, its walls holding memories like treasured heirlooms. The aroma of spices and jasmine perpetually wafted through the rooms, a sensory reminder of her constant presence.

The Heart of Our Heritage

In this house lived our extended family – uncles, aunts, cousins, and of course, Ammamma, the matriarch. She was a petite woman with silver hair always neatly tied in a bun, and her saris were as colorful as her stories. Her eyes, though clouded with age, sparkled with the zest for life and the wisdom of ages.

Every evening, as the golden sun dipped below the horizon, casting long shadows across the paddy fields, the family gathered around Ammamma in the veranda. Her stories were an eclectic mix of myth, folklore, and slices of her own life. With each tale, she weaved the fabric of our heritage and identity, teaching us lessons of resilience, courage, and love.

Ammamma was not only our storyteller but also the guardian of our family traditions. She meticulously planned each festival, ensuring that even the tiniest details of rituals were honored. Onam was her favorite festival; her eyes would light up at the thought of the elaborate ‘sadhya’ (feast) and the colorful ‘pookalam’ (floral carpet). She taught the young girls in our family how to gracefully drape a ‘settu mundu’, the traditional attire for the festivities.

The Symphony of Spices and Stories

Her kitchen was the nucleus of our home. She was an alchemist with spices, conjuring up the most delicious dishes that seemed to have the power to heal both body and soul. Even a simple cup of chai made by her had the power to comfort and invigorate. It was not just her cooking, but the love and care she infused in every morsel that made it divine.

But Ammamma’s most significant role was as the keeper of our family’s heartbeat. In times of discord or unhappiness, it was she who restored peace and harmony. Her gentle yet firm words could soothe the most troubled heart. She was our confidante, the repository of our joys, sorrows, dreams, and fears.

One day, when a sudden illness confined her to her bed, the house felt unnaturally silent. The walls seemed to yearn for her touch, the kitchen missed its queen, and the veranda longed for her stories. That’s when we realized how Ammamma’s presence was the heartbeat of our home.

The Quietude and the Awakening

As a family, we gathered around her, tending to her with the same love she had showered on us all these years. The young ones took turns to read to her, the women took over the kitchen, infusing their dishes with love, and the men managed the day-to-day affairs of the house.

During those quiet days by her bedside, we understood the depth of her influence on our lives. She had silently been the thread holding us together, guiding us with her wisdom, and nurturing us with her love.

Ammamma recovered slowly, and with her revival, the house too came back to life. Her first walk back to the kitchen was celebrated with tears and laughter. The evening stories resumed, now with a new appreciation for the lessons they imparted.

Years later, as I sit on the same veranda, reminiscing, I realize that Ammamma did more than just share stories or cook meals. She instilled in us the values of togetherness, respect for our traditions, and the importance of family. She was indeed the keeper of our family’s heartbeat, pulsating with love, strength, and wisdom, keeping us united through the ebbs and flows of life.

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Rahul Bhardwaj

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