We don’t need to travel far to find a woman we perceive beautiful. Mine was staying with me at my very home – my grandmother. She was the woman of ancient India, but had the soul of the woman of tomorrow. Beauty in it’s true form, not seen, only felt.
All women are heros. Some women get the limelight doing the unusual, but majority lead their usual life in unusually heroic manner.
When I was probably nine or ten, my Dadi (GrandMa) and I were waiting for someone in our Ambassador car parked outside Allahabad station. It was a humid day and our face dripped sweat, while Greatest Hits by Lata Mangeskar played in a creaky audio player. Unaffected by heat, she had a calm face as Lata’s mellifluous voice poured into her ears. At that point, she said something I never forgot, “Lata is such a legend..Kash main bhi kuch hoti!” That was the first time I realized that she was highly ambitious for a woman of that era! For our generation and even preceding one, it’s not uncommon to idealize somebody or desire to have more qualities than what we’re endowed with, but it’s bizarre for our grandmothers’ generation. I thought females back then were content with domestic chores but she broke all traditional knots and took interest in music, reading literature, biographies and human psychology.
Often while doing her hair, I used to make two plats and say giggling, “Tum Lata didi ki tarah ga nahi sakti, but do plats toh bana hi sakti ho na Dadi.” Her name justified her physique, standing at 5”7’ and having broad shoulders, she was so a ‘Shail’ (meaning: Mountain). Not only was she tall, but so were her hands—long and skinny—which mostly were at work with a yarn of wool and knitting needles. Since childhood, I have mostly worn sweaters knitted by her; I’m a proud owner of her work (woollens), in a variety of patterns and colors, which beat any designer woollen any day. Aunties from my neighbourhood used to get hold of me to see her exquisitely convoluted work, as I walked in my colony, in pride, flaunting my grandmother’s talent. Not only she did her masters in knitting, but had great enthusiasm for books, movies, sitcoms, cooking and making pickles.
She had a habit of taking a nap only after reading a part of Hindi literature and was extremely meticulous about the writers she followed; only books of artistic merit could be a part of her private library. Munshi Prem Chandra, Jai Shankar Prasad, Shivani and Vimal Mitra to list a few! We all have a book, which we have read multiple times and yet it intoxicates us with a bracing tonic every time we lay our hands on it, that was ‘Begam Meri Vishwas’ for her. After finding her engrossed in that book at several times in many years, I asked “So title ka matlab hai – My wife is my faith? She laughed and said “Hat pagli, ye ek aise ladki ki kahani hai jo waqt chaltey teen dharmo mein dhalti hia, and uske saath uske naam badltey hia – Begam (Muslim), Meri (read Mary; Christian) aur Vishwas (Hindu).” Made me feel either I’m too dumb or the writer too smart.
Not only did her traits mesmerize me but so did her dressing sense. For me, she was a Bengalan beauty – had long black hair, wore vivid sindoor and the biggest ‘shilpa’ bindi. She mostly wore sleeveless blouse, which made her my fashion idol. Unlike most grandparents, mine are very adaptable when it comes to apparels. No matter what I wore (slim fit jeans, skirts, short tops) I wasn’t judged and was always appreciated. She called my younger sister and me her own Karishma-Kareena (my husband still rolls with laughter at this). In her eyes, her granddaughters were the prettiest girls in any gathering(s). “Arey hato Uma(my mother), Saumya ki shaadi ke liye bahut khoobsurut ladka dhundhge.”, was her patented line.
As one can guess, I was very close to her and enamoured with her charm. She was my guardian angel when it came to television. As both of us were addicted to the idiot box, I used her as my alibi. “Papa main thodi na dekh rahi thi serial, wo toh Dadi dekh rahi thi, toh main bhi bathie gayi.” She had a timetable of serials, and was never tired of sitting in one pose watching them. It was fun to see her cursing and reviling people of artificial land, “Itni makkaar aurat hai ye Kamolika(vamp), chudail!”
Not only did she name me Saumya, but treated me like that too. I was always aware of her biased love towards me; no matter what I did, she did not stop channeling her relentless love towards me.
When you have strong women to look up to, you don’t have a choice but to be raised strong. Babies come as a blank paper from heaven, and the guardians scribble on them with their sexist ink. She set an example for me. She never made me befriend cooking over studies. She never went by the conventional theory of “khana nahi banana seekhogi toh sasuraal jaake kya karogi?”
I remember her lines, “Tomorrow you may you receive life as you perceived it to be. You may fail and fall, and then your education will give her that hold you need to stand in this world again. Make it your biggest asset.” She knew me, before I discovered myself.
Five years back, she left us, but in a strange way I feel more close to her than ever! Earlier she had a defined place, now she’s everywhere. I feel her, sense her, smell her, and see her. Contrary to the belief, death does not take someone away from you, but, in a very unique way, brings a person much closer to you. You’ll think about the person in a way you never thought before, you’ll talk about him/her at every chance you get to do so.
She was a woman of substance, who lived her life ordinarily. But like I said at the start, for some women usual is unusually heroic. Its high time we define beauty correctly.
I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.
Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.
Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY… http://bit.ly/naturalsOF