On Grandmas

So I talked to my Grandma after a really long time. (This might seem like a weird post, but I promise you it will all make sense if you get to the end of it.) It is a really sad thing: this woman is in her mid or late 70s--I dont know her exact age. Probably too embarrassed to ask her. What kinda fool doesn't know their grandma's age? (Trust me this is related to the problems of the vanguard party and vanguardism in general.)

She has 10 kids. Some of them are in India and some in the states. All of them in the states except for one are pretty poor people now days. One of them has made into the high government and what not. My Grandma came in the early 1990s. First she provided the standard free babysitting for my brother and I. She definately played a hand in raising us. I dont think we treated her properly. Without a doubt, both of us gotta shoulder some of that burden on ourselvse, but also realize that it was almost inevitable. Both of us were looking for the maximum freedom from many of the constraints my own family and my Grandma placed on us. No girlfriends, no going out, stay at home, anyone who is not Muslim is the devil and all that jazz. Every inch of freedom we had to fight for. At the same time, I hate that and love that about my childhood. And in the same way I hate that and love that about my family. I understand they were only trying to do what was best for us. But the different experiences my brother and I were going through were not going to tolerate any of their fears. My Grandma was definately someone who suffered as we crashed into her expectations of what good grandsons were supposed to be.

Sometime in the mid 1990s, she ended up as a nanny for several South Asian doctor families. I dont know what she did with the money she made. I can only imagine that she sent it back to her family in India, or saved up for her kids coming to the U.S.

Eventually, after my Mom would pass away, my Grandma (my Mom's side) would fade more from my life. But as I am getting older and more and more people pass in and out of my life, I think I see how these relationships--no matter how messed up sometimes--cannot be clicked on and off. Human relationshiops are not light switches. They are mirrors of ourselves. They are curved mirrors that let us see different aspects of ourselves. Yeah these relationships can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But I think the tension of living with that pain, is part of becoming older and part of eventually becoming a better activist. It just sucks, cuz there is a sea of sadness, striving, and .... happening. It is overwhelming not to have a simple vision of life or history.... It is much more difficult to embrace the magnitude of it all.

If there are things I would do differently and will try in the upcoming years with my Grandma is to ask questions about her life. Why did she come to America? What did she find so hard about adjusting to this country? How did she feel when her daughter/ my mom pass away? Does she want to go back to India today? What does she hope for her youngest grandchildren? What was my Mom like as a child? What memories does she have of my Mom? I have never asked any of these questions from my Grandma... strangely...

Never discount the memories of old folks. They often can tell you more about yourself than you can realize. They have lived a long life and often seen a lot of things. They usually have a perspective on life and time that slips us younger folks by. I should definately not forget what women like my Granmda means in terms of immigration, class, imperialism etc among other themes which I have studied in the short time of my political life.

The struggle of individuals brought together in many ways constitute the class, gender, and racial struggles. It is difficult to make these struggles into simple pages, or conversations; but is another thing to feel them in the day to day existence of some of the people we know. I think revolutionaries in this society tend to become disconnected from it. Want to abolish in it abstract ways. Of course we understand it theoretically, but to viscerally live it--not in a safari type of way--but to live it without choice is another matter at hand completely.

Maybe in the next couple weeks I will try to explain in more detail how I imagine many of these things relate to revolutionary organization, mass organizing, and just being a decent human being...

Anyways these are my rambling thoughts and some of the things I have been thinking about over the summer.


1 comment:

Andrew said...

My grandma passed away last year, and for several years before then she wasn't in any condition where we could really talk. I regret not getting to know her better, she was one of the strongest women I've ever known.