Granny was not keeping well for several days and so when I heard about it, I went to see her. As I reached the doorsteps, I saw granny sitting there completely engrossed in her work. I was a little confused about how to react. Should I be happy that she was fine enough to be busy with her quilts, or should I fear that she was ignoring her health and not taking good care of herself? As I inquired with her about her health and asked why was she not having proper rest? She was all smiles and said that she was bugged up doing nothing the whole day and felt much better when she was busy with her work.
My granny’s life was always full of hardships but she never complained of the difficulties she endured. She was married young at the age of around13 and had her 4 kids in quick succession. When she lost her husband quite early in life, she was exposed to numerous challenges, which she fought bravely with dignity and pride.
Finding her taking some rest was always an uncommon scene but she was extremely fond of her afternoon nap. She dozed off always in a sitting position with some of her sewing work every time in her lap.
When I went to her place that day, I inquired about her quilt-making business. I very well knew she never made great profits in her work; she would always sell her quilts and baby clothes at a far less price than what she had invested. As she aged, her nature of donating and helping had greatly increased, which was making her more and more blissful. She belonged to the time when people valued each other. There was a feeling of oneness among the people in the community. With just one call from the neighbor or stranger, people would rush to help. There was so much unity at that time and people’s foremost quality was to assist and offer kindness.
For weddings and other functions, Granny would forever be present to help. Her presence provided emotional support in times of trouble. Her immense knowledge of many herbal remedies made her well known in the neighborhood. She never denied help when requested and was widely recognized for that.
But now, due to her age, she cannot lend that supporting hand as before. But the kindness factor won’t leave her; she is so addicted to helping, that she has discovered a way to support others while staying at home.
Just behind their house, a little distance away is an old railway station. There are many poor laborers lingering there with their unfortunate families which include small children and also young pregnant ladies. They don’t have a place to call it home and sleep on the open footpath. Granny is always busy making quilts for them. Her sister being a tailor; she manages to get leftover fabric pieces from her, for the patchwork of the quilts; she uses her old sarees, uncles (mamas) old shirts, and trousers to make the blankets. Also, some small dresses for the poor children. She gives it all, for free. Those poor laborers whom she does not know, whom she is not related to, she is working hard to make quilts for them.
My 80-year-old Granny, who is still an earning member of her family with her quilts and sweets-making business, is definitely not having all the comforts in her life, but she is striving hard to give comfort to others. She herself has seen hard times, hence very well understands what it means to be underprivileged.
Hence her business now never makes a profit and she does not mind it as long as it gives her satisfaction.
But we worry a lot about her because sitting for long hours every day with this work of quilt making, we feel, it will deteriorate her health. But she says it makes her feel rejuvenated and content and we know if we stop her from stitching (for her good alone) she will not be happy and will never remain healthy.
So as Granny’s celebrated her many birthdays; at each new phase of life, she discovered a different purpose to keep herself motivated. Life demanded different things from her at different moments. And now her new purpose in life is to help those needy, waiting for her help at the old railway station.
And as many expect her to do some chanting at this age; Is it not that each stitch that she makes for the poor, is calling out the divine name?
image credit: nathan bang, Unsplash