I am participating in the 30 Days Letter Challenge where you write one letter each day. The 11th in the list is a letter to ‘A Deceased person you wish you could talk to’
Dear Deceased Person I Wish I Could Talk To,
Your story is not mine to tell. Not only because a bunch of people might jump at my throat if I tried telling it, but also because I do not know all of it, not your version of it anyway.
You were a beautiful lady. Elegant and classy. When others said I resemble you, I couldn’t see how the not so fair ordinary me, a girl who slouched so badly and whose smile was so hesitant and doubtful that people assumed she was about to burst into tears, could ever look like you.
You had long and beautiful hair, a flawless complexion. You took great care to maintain both. There lay one of the principal problems. Those who take care of themselves are not looked upon kindly by our society, especially if they are as old as you were when I knew you. Did I know better? No, I didn’t. I was after all just a pre-teen observing and absorbing (as also questioning, if not outwardly, definitely in my mind) what was going on around me. It would take me more years to realise that looking good is not a crime as my elders would have it. At any age in fact.
You had only studied up to 10th grade. Yet you spoke and read English like the best of them. You were well versed in literature, the epics. You also sang. You were not the typical kind who gathered children around you and told them stories, pampered and spoilt them as they say is the birthright of people in your stage of life.
You did tell us stories now and then. But, of pampering there was not one bit. But you know what? When people around me tell me those your age cannot but do that, I point to you with pride. You did not contradict what parents said, you only stood by what you felt was right. Mostly your advice was, ‘Now, listen to your Mother!’ How different from the crop who are deified by all as true representatives of your group.
I remember I was annoyed with the way those around you (and you too) were critical of the way I had cut my hair short. You know, I don’t think the fact that your husband liked long hair is enough reason for all of the following generations to grow their hair long too. Anyway, the outcome was that I refused to visit you all. It was not some iron-clad decision. But it so happened I did not take any conscious interest to visit you for more than a year.
Then just like that you were gone. No illness, nothing. You simply left. I was 18 that year and you were 72. Since I had my exams I could not see you one last time. They say you looked lovely and your hair was black with only flecks of white as you lay, ready for your last journey.
I think of you often Grandma because only after you left did I hear your real story. I was ashamed of the way your near and dear ones spoke disparagingly of you when you had your emotional outbursts, and was mortified that I believed them. HOW could they? You were the one wronged! I wish I knew earlier and had spoken up for you. I do now. But then I don’t have to tell you that, no? You probably hear me, from wherever you are.
Your granddaughter, who wishes she knew you better.
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Those who are taking part in the 30 Day letter Challenge, please don’t forget to add your links to the linky over at Hrishikesh‘s page.
©Shail Mohan 2014