A special thick envelope was delivered to my grandma’s house yesterday from the Queen.
Today she’ll open it and we’ll have a little Zoom celebration to mark her 100th birthday!
Sita Ma has been the matriarch of our family since forever, showing us, and sometimes, even the Brahmin, how to do the rituals properly for all our rites of passage. She has been our backbone and our centre, and it’s rather wonderful to see her reach this milestone.
A little sad to have to celebrate this and last year’s birthdays remotely, but conversely, that has meant including people from as far afield as Canada, India and Australia, beaming everyone, with the wonderful power of technology, straight into our living rooms.
In fact last year’s Zoom birthday was so well organised, with each member doing a bit of a turn. There were songs and stories recounted with memories of Ma. And all us 21 grandkids were involved in a video splice while lip-syncing to Happy (Pharrell Williams). My bit was cringe but we had a laugh! The whole thing became even more special than a regular get together.
One of the best stories told is of Ma when she was a girl growing up in Bardoli, in India. Mahatma Gandhi had an ashram there and she often went. Apparently when he was walking past one time, Ma told him his legs were too skinny!! I will always dine out on that one.
When I was very young, I used to go and stay with my grandparents during the week while mum went out to work and I even went to infant school there. I can’t remember much of it but I must have enjoyed myself as apparently I wasn’t that keen on going back home. It may have had something to do with me being the fourth daughter in our house and having my grandma all to myself in her house!
It’s pretty phenomenal that a woman, born in quite a rural setting, who didn’t have much of an education, has lived through such world changes. She’s lived in India, Kenya and the UK. She was around before electricity was widely available and now FaceTimes!
This year’s party will be a bit shorter than last year as Ma’s stamina and memory aren’t as strong as they were. Instead we had a prequel Zoom yesterday when various friends and family members sang songs and hymns for her to listen to and join in with, as the old songs are always remembered. Today, we’ll all have our glasses ready of whatever tipple we fancy (Ma doesn’t mind a drop of whiskey) and we will raise them in honour of a very special woman.
Happy 100th birthday Ma!