Big Ajji

The winter has given me a newfound love for my family. This isn’t to say I didn’t love them before, or love them as deeply earlier. It’s just to say that I had fallen out of touch with what that meant or extended to. Distance and time changes relationships. That’s a universal fact, and my own relationship with my family, and my extended family, has been through being separate – and having a large amount of distance/time separate us, to living next to each other, within the same house. Naturally, the dynamics are different in each phase. I’ve known that going to University has meant that I’ve fallen out of touch with several members in my family – because I don’t see them as frequently and get to share stories with them, but it’s also meant that we’ve cherished all the time we’ve spent with each other, to catch up as best as possible.

Every occasion my family decides to spend time together is a memorable one. Today, we got together to celebrate my great-grandmother’s (Big Ajji) 92nd/93rd birthday. Her daughters and some spouses, my mum and her sister, her caretaker, and me. A small crowd, but a crowd that literally brought tears to her eyes when she got to hear us sing happy birthday and cut her cake.

We got her this gigantic yellow cake: a pineapple flavoured cake that contained frosting and icing representing her favourite Indian sweets and snacks. Big Ajji loves eating things she shouldn’t be eating – especially the sweet stuff and the spicy stuff. Naturally, one of the first things she went for was the icing itself: the icing murukku they had supplied on the top of the cake. It was hilarious. She was so eager to get to eating the cake that she didn’t want to wait for a knife to cut it. She cut her first piece with her fingers.

My Big Ajji is a gem. She’s got a childlike enthusiasm about her most days she’s sitting up. I admire that tremendously, and the two things I know, deep in my heart, is that first, I’m not going to let anyone in my family lose that – I’m going to do everything in my power to keep that childlike enthusiasm alive. Second, I’m going to ensure I don’t lose it myself.

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