To the eyes of a two year me, life was rater different from what it is now. It was full of magic and everything was a kaleidoscopic in its own nature. I have no real memory but rather flashes of it, vestiges of a memorable time popping up like bubbles in a champagne glass. These are not memories that I can make any sense of but are rather distinctive and certainly not very descriptive in nature. I don’t remember all of them ( I was just a couple of years old, my brain was still finding places to keep stuff and had other serious problems like food and potty to bother about) but I do remember a few of them and of course one of them has a lot to do with braids.
When I started thinking about braids and what the to write about them, frankly I was turning blank, with the very little hair that I myself has that was no surprise. That’s when I realized that I should stop being a stupid narcissist and concentrate along another lines. I donned my thinking hat on and started thinking what thoughts braids inspire in me. One thought, rather one memory stood out of all. It was that of a two year old me, the hazy vision of the dangling braids all in sepia like in any good flashback from a beloved part of my life. I could see through the baby eyes of mine the life that was in and around me.
The first of the visions that I remember has my mother’s face in it, much younger and with much less wrinkles, so much younger and carefree than I ever remember her. I could faintly hear her smiles as she cajoled me. I could feel the delight in her giggles as I hung on to her braids and carried out various scientific experiments on like, biting, tasting, pulling and what not. I can remember the cries of utter delight that I let out and the immediate effect it has on my mother’s face. I remember watching the smile that reciprocate on her face, her eyes lighting up as if she was beholding something miraculous n her hands. Something that only a mother can feel for her son I guess.
Every one of my memories of my grandmother has something to do with braids. I have seen beautiful pictures of my ravishingly beautiful grandmother at my home. She had a very long braid, so beautiful were they, But that not the one that I remember. By the time I was born she had lost the blackness of her hair and her braids were no longer that strong but I can say that they would put most girls to shame. I remember I her braids, much before she lost it to old age and its ailments. It was like a silver thread, so beautiful; I can even remember seeing them shine brightly in the sunlight. The little me was so fascinated by the games her braids would play with the light, I would try chasing it, jumping on it and everything else I was capable of them.
I don’t know whether I could go on and say that braids has done a lot to my childhood, or that it played an important part in my younger years. But I can say this that though I have no braids, braids have featured in some the most cherished of my childhood memories. My memory of my mother when I was little was one the most beautiful memories that I have of my mother, a personal favorite, one among the very few where I remember her as carefree and elated. Huh! Memories sometimes that is all that we may have for ourselves. My only wish is that these memories be real and not just a product of my runaway imagination.
There was a picture hung by the wall of by old countryside home, it was a gray scale picture of three young girls and a grandmother. At first I wondered who they would be and I kept until one day when I asked my grandfather who those girls were? He held me up in his arms and pointing to the picture with other hand. He told me that, it was my mother and her sisters. I was so shocked for till then I definitely believed that they were born that way and they will remain so for all eternity. If I recall my grandpa’s version of the story I cried, but mind you, I never accepted his claims what so ever.
Years later I came in terms with my mother and her sister who are so big now being so little then, The thing that still caught my attention every time I
looked at that picture is old lady in the picture with silver hair and a grandeur that was there in her face. Her stance had a stature that I seldom saw in people then and before. By the time I procured all the courage to ask who she was it was then again years later. This time I asked my grandpa who would be by then asked all kind of stupid questions by me, who she was. And He said she was a grandmother and I was confused. I already had one grandmother and extended him the same enquiry with an ‘innocent smile’ (in his words). He smiled and said of course you have but she was my mother grandmother so my great grandmother she was!
From then own I heard a million wonderful stories of her and her life, she was never a stereotype and she was always a person I grew up to respect. I never knew her and she was long gone the time I was born. But still I loved her and I loved the picture of hers. There was definitely something special about her and it was evident in the picture. My mother told me many wonderful memories of her’s. She told me of her times with her grandma and how wonderful a person she was. All these stories I used to create for myself the great grandmother who was truly great for me by them. Great as in life as in day dreams she was.
Born in the dark times to a wealthy aristocratic family, she was never the one for stereotypes. When education and profession eluded women, she showed the courage to step up and break down the barriers. She learned and exceled and then became a teacher, the first one from anywhere in her area. But that was not all, my mother always told me how she used to manage her carrier and the large paddy fields she inherited and all her children all alone. She was the most respected one of her lands and the local folks used to come to her for permission. She loved her men as they loved and respected her back.
My mother used to tell whenever gypsises came to the lands near hers they would come ask her permission before they would go anywhere. This is just one among the many stories I heard of my great grandmother. There is one another story that I always loved. My aunt told me once that whenever they went to hers for the summer breaks she would have by then plucked all the mangos in her plantation and hid it neatly under the hay stacks so that they would be ripe and the three of them would go scavenger hunting for mangoes.
I do wish I was there to witness it all. Bound in these concrete jungles of modern times, these little good times are for memories alone and any one who dares to dream of it as anything else is bound to disappointment as always. Those are the good time that will never be back upon us and they are special people who will be born once and if u missed them then you missed them. There is no going back. Yet I wish that was not true.