The Day My Grandmother Died


My grandmother passed away when I was 13. 
She was one of those women who smiled even when the sky was overcast with great big depressing black clouds. The kind of woman who kept her cool even when the house and her life was chaotic. The kind who was generous even when she suffered and was thankful even on days when she was ill. 
I don’t remember her even looking at someone angrily. And we did plenty to make her so. 
The day she died, I remember my mother gently shaking me awake at six in the morning and telling me to get dressed. On an ordinary day I would have protested and resisted and asked why? But there was something in the quiet solemnity of her voice that begged no questions. I was 13 but I heard it almost as if she said it in so many words. 
I dressed and we went to pay our last respects. I saw the body of the gentlest woman in the world laid out and I cried like a little baby. My mom let me be for a while and then said – Come on – you will be late. I asked for what? And she said – For your poetry competition. I looked at her incredulously – Do you still think I should go for that? And she said in the most tender voice possible – ‘Yes. Life goes on. You cannot do anything here. And she would have wanted you to go.’ I paraphrase of course – but I think I remember most of it correctly. 
I tried hard to understand what my mother wanted me to know. And I think I got it.
It wasn’t an important exam or a life-altering competition. It was just one of those inter school things. The competition wasn’t important – the moving on was. 
My grandmother laughed. She cried. She lived. And now she was gone. 
It was the turn of the living now. To live. 
I did go to that competition. I wrote a poem which won me the prize. 
I wrote a poem on sunshine and the beach. On the day my grandmother died. 



Non Smilers


You are walking on the road and this little dog is rolling around and doing some goofy stuff and it makes you smile. So you smile and you look around and there are a couple of others who are seeing the same thing and you make eye contact and you are still smiling. Chances are that someone is going to return that smile even though you are two strangers. There is a funny moment you both shared. And also the fact that you can’t resist a full blown smile directed at you. Right? Well apparently…. wrong. Because there are always some people who can resist it. 
You are introduced to someone and you flash them your warmest smile and all you get in return is a limp handshake accompanied by a sad little smirk. Why? 
A really happy sales girl will walk up to you and chirpily ask ‘How may I help you? This top looks wonderful on you’ all the while giving you her biggest brightest smile. How can you resist smiling back even if she is just doing her job? 
But everyday there are people walking around – NOT smiling. Oh they laugh and joke in their houses alright. But smile at a stranger? Nope. No can do. 
Is it a protective reflex? 
Is it just being reserved?
Is it their inherent sulky nature?
I don’t know. But I plan on keeping on smiling and finding others who are willing to smile along. Reason or no reason.