The old lady of Telfair Avenue (1914 – 2012)
My grandmother, or dadi as we called her, was a truly special woman. Love and kindness were the major fabrics with which she created her tapestry of life. She never had a great career, and spent her time as a housewife, as was customary in these days, but still she made a lasting impression on so many people. She toiled hard to raise her children and the values instilled in them have been passed on to her grandchildren who were her pride and joy.
dadi would often recall with nostalgia how she never had the chance of receiving formal education, but through dint of hard work, she had made her children become “grand dimounes” and that her grandchildren would also become “grand dimounes”. We have lived up to her expectations, having become professionals in our respective fields. More recently, she had the double treat of cuddling three great grandchildren, to whom she was a loving and proud great grandmother.
Having grown up with dadi around for the best part of the last 27 years, before leaving for tertiary studies in the UK, my fondest memories of her were during my childhood years. She would patiently wait on the roadside even one hour before school ended for me to come to her place after school, for my afternoon snack, usually comprising her famous “bouillon brede cresson” as accompaniment to the many delicious dishes she would prepare. Although I was mischievous, always getting myself into some kind of trouble, she would never complain and I could get away with murder. Her culinary skills in making Indian sweets and dishes were second to none, and we would be spoiled for choice on different occasions – birthdays, Diwali and the New Year amongst others.
Whenever I came to Mauritius for the holidays, I would always visit her, and would be welcomed by her warm smile and kind. The joy of seeing her near and dear, after long periods of absence, never failed to fill her heart with happiness.
Unfortunately, since the demise of her eldest daughter, her health started deteriorating and she really never recovered from the shock of the passing away of her eldest child. Nevertheless, she faced illness and old age with the same courage and mettle she had displayed throughout her life. Sadly, when I got word that she had passed away on that fateful morning of 24th September 2012, the hardest thing was probably not being able to say goodbye one last time, being thousands of miles away.
When I came for my Christmas holidays last year, I could feel the absence of dadi deep down my heart as I knew I would miss her hugs, her love and kindness for ever and started pondering on the very essence of life, and its meaning. I missed her blessings on the 1st of January not to forget the precious little red packets which she always kept in store for all of us, old or young. Some of us have even treasured these envelopes as prized gifts from her. She will be remembered for her smile, her laughter, her hospitality, her cooking, her soft hugs and safe hands.
I will miss you, dadi.