On the same trip, my next stop was Leh. I had to stay a week, visit my grandmother and then move upwards to meet my grandfather in the monastery. My grandmother broke her hip, and Mackeri took care of her in exchange for a few bucks.
When I went to my grandmother’s one-room home, there was nothing for me except a chair in the corner. Even though she could sit in bed, she quite did not seem to be in pain.
She was smiling at me,and her eyebrows danced like a 16-year old girl.
“You remember me, see, I say you are the only one who loves me truly.” She chuckled.
“Are you not sad? You are bedridden for six-months and cannot even walk. You never did a thing wrong, never spoke harsh words, but how did you land up here on the bed?”
“Ahhh! You always come with your big list of questions, and that is the only thing I don’t like about you.” She clapped and smiled wide.
“Okay, but how can I not have questions?” I was always confused when with grandma. She would speak through parables and stories to tell me about life.
“You mustn’t cloud your mind with too many questions; it is not good for your mental health. I am sure you’re already carrying a bag full of them for your grandpa. You have always been like this; you know since you were a kid – a curious kid.”
“Well, what if you answer my questions; won’t that be the best for my mental health?”
“Amm,” she thought for a while, pursed her lips, and then her eyes twinkled. I knew I was close to some trouble since her eyes twinkled only when she was up to something.
“I have decided you will stay with Mackeri in her home since there is noone to take care of you here. Besides, I don’t have a spare bed.” Mackeri stood there, silently listening. She was not smiling, but I could see she was not agitated. I looked at her closely to find out one line of grimace, but none, I found none. She turned to me slowly, and after putting back the bowl in the kitchen, she took my bag and quietly left the room.
“Is it a good idea to disturb her?” I asked grandma, not sure if with her hip she had lost her mind too.
“Ohh no, just go with her. She is the right person to answer you. I am old, tired of talking, and seriously need some me-time. Come back tomorrow morning. It’s already four in the evening, and we will lose the sunlight in no time.”
I was unsure if stopping by my grandma was the right decision at all; as I mulled over it, Mackeri beckoned me to follow her from a distance. Rugged, brown, bare mountains and a nipping wind made me shiver slightly. I had also eaten nothing since morning, and I felt nauseous at that height.
“Come, there you have some warm water, wash and then come this way.” She indicated towards a room darker than the outside.
“Yeah.” I nodded.
Fresh, warm water was turning cold quickly in that cold weather, and after washing myself nicely, I changed into a pair of clothes she had taken out of my bag and hung on the shelf in the washroom. I came out and headed straight towards the door.
I could smell the garlic as I entered the room. On a simple table, lay some bread, garlic soup and a bit of meat and milk. I gulped all of it down and then went ahead with the soup. I left the milk that Mackeri consumed with some bread.
After wiping off my mouth, I looked around. The house was as bare as the walls. Except for the table and two chairs, there was a wooden wardrobe in the room. The house and the wardrobe were made of the brown mud of Leh that was everywhere.
“You live alone here?” I asked her.
“No, with my husband, and I take care of him too.”
“Why, is he sick?”
“Yes, he fell from the mountain and broke his spinal cord almost ten years back. Since then, he has been bedridden.”
“You didn’t show him to a doctor?”
“Many, I lost all my money in the process. Now, I have nothing; all my jewelry supported me for ten years and recently when I had nothing, your grandma came forward.” She, too, was smiling.
“You don’t feel pain? Do you have children?”
“No, I never had children, and I don’t feel pain. The pain always teaches us; it never can do anything else to us if we are accepting it.”
“Yes, pain is a teacher, and every pain tells you something. To learn the lesson, you must embrace it and not hate it. Pain is the repercussion and carries behind a shaken teacher who adds value to your life.”
“But all pain can never be pleasant. You end up feeling frustrated?”
“As people say, happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin, but it’s not true. That point where happiness meets sadness is called serenity. When you are serene, you’re peaceful, and when you are peaceful, sadness and happiness both will seem the same.”
“You are telling me I can be happy when sad and sad even when happy?” I rubbed my forehead.
““Is it not true? Ask yourself and ask people who are true to themselves. Where else will humility come from otherwise?”
“Humility?” I perhaps lost track of the conversation, and like everytime, I repeated the same word someone uttered before me.
“Yes, you can only be humble when you feel something this way. Let’s say you won a match or a tournament and you saw your friend lose. You feel happy for yourself and sad for them, and so that’s where you devote your empathy to them, you understand their pain, and in doing so, you feel their sadness. So, you feel sad and happy at the same time. This is balance; this is a point of well-being. If you are not feeling others’ pain, you are not balanced.
This world wouldn’t be in a balance if there were just day or night,so both must be a part of it. When you are happy, you will feel sad for some loss, and when in loss, you will feel happy about something. It is a rule you must remember. There is not just one thing to lose here, and there is more. Money, love, home, and wealth are just not what you lose; there are many more things to lose than what people portray as a loss. So be aware and know what you will lose even if you seem to be gaining or winning something big in life.” I merely looked at her thin face, her eyes were tired, but they still burnt bright.
“You mean………” I was getting my next question; I was lost in her words but then she interrupted.
“Go and sleep, we can talk tomorrow, and you can help me till you stay.” She pinched my cheeks tightly.
“If I love my mother and I don’t love you or grandma, then I am not balanced?”
“Yes, how can you not love one and love another, we are no different from each other? We are one; to palpate a thread, you need to have compassion towards that being. Slowly as you hold one thread, you will see the connection between everything in this world.” She collected the plates and washed them quickly with the hot water, and some soap that I never knew was soap in the first place.
While I watched her, I felt sleepy and slowly went upstairs while my head was full of questions and the answers I received from her. The mountains appeared dark, and the wind was stronger now, there was no TV, but the sound of the wind was enough to fall asleep.
Snehashree is a content writer by profession, and she writes on almost all the niches. She writes poetry, a book is also available on Amazon, called “A Hiatus from the Loaded Past”. She also regularly writes on her blog: https://www.rollercoasterrideonlife.blog/ and on her website, https://www.writersnehashree.com/. She is a part of IndieITPress and Talking Zebras Group.
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