Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unlocking family memories... The golden prison in the shape of a teardrop.

Seeing how my last few posts have been centered around sad themes of loss and grief, I'm going to chug along and keep that ball rolling! But be not afraid, o brave reader, this one is not a tear-jerker. Though bad things do happen to good people - let that be my disclaimer!

This one is about my other grandmother... not Nani, whom we have read about so much by now... but Dadima, my father's mother. She passed away when I was at that age when all you remember about a person is her smile or the scent of the coconut oil in her hair or her white chiffon saris or her big spectacles. You know, the abstract things. Like the gold chain she wore around her neck, which looked like small, sturdy golden staple pins strung together from end to end. And in the center of this pretty chain, was a pendant. A pendant that took the form of a teardrop shaped prison - with bars made of pure gold. Its sole inmate was a perfect creamy pearl. It was exquisite. And I lost it.

When Dadima died, I was still so young that no one bothered to confide in me the workings of a will. All I knew was that for some strange reason, she left me the chain and the pendant. I was in such a quandry, though I can hardly confess to even knowing the word at the time. I had recently read 'Little Women' for the 20th time and it seemed to me like a sign from God that I must be 'Amy'. She had a turquoise ring which was gifted to her by a crotchety old aunt, and all she wanted to do was wear it the whole time, even though it was two sizes too big. I faced no such problem - what with chains being one-size-fits-all. But I couldn't decide if I should store it safely in a well-armored bank locker, or if I should wear it all the time... 'with the pendant close to my heart', justified my vain mind. Quite obviously, vanity won.

And so it came to be that I wore it all the time. I worried that frequent showers might wear down the sheen of the pearl but I am happy to report that it did not keep me away from them. I resolved to bequeath it to my first born daughter with a note explaining the journey of the chain thus far. I tucked it inside my school uniform shirt because we weren't allowed to wear accessories of any kind. And I fancied that I just had to have been Dadima's favorite grandchild if she left the chain to me.

Then, of course, I lost it.

My family was moving from one house to another - and we were doing all our packing on our own. And somewhere between 'organizing' my 9-year-old life and deconstructing my soon-to-be former room, the chain and pearl pendant were lost forever. I can only imagine the new occupants of my room one day finding them hidden underneath the carpet or behind the bookshelf or stuck in between the shelves in the closet... and to them it would only be a chain and a pendant.

Whereas for me, it has become how I remember my grandmother.



Kripa said...

lovely article.. got me sort of teary eyed coz this reminds me of the lovely gold ring my Grandmother made for me, just before she passed away... the gold ring that I have carelessly misplaced... I use the word 'misplaced' as if I'm sure I will find it under a carpet or behind a cupboard somewhere... someday...
... it was a constant reminder of a bond shared... even if only for a moment or two... it was too precious to lose forever...

Save Their Story Inc said...

I know exactly how you must feel about 'misplacing' the ring that belonged to your Grandma, Kripa!! I hope you have better luck finding it than I did with my chain. Ironically though, I am sure once you find it, the temptation to keep it under lock and key will be very strong... when it deserves to be looked at everyday just for the memories it evokes!

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