My Grandmother

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The frail old woman seated in the wheelchair slowly looks up when she hears approaching footsteps. I look at the deeply wrinkled face and search for some signs of recognition but fail to do so. She, on her part, looks at me blankly and after a few seconds continues doing what she had been doing earlier – looking at her gnarled fingers and toying with the gold band on her third finger. Sighing in disappointment, I wonder what is on her mind. It pains my heart to know what Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis have done to this feeble woman. Grandmother has not always been like this. She used to be an energetic woman who had much love to share with those around her, be they her children, grandchildren or daughters-in law. My mother, her eldest son’s wife, had not a negative word to say about grandma who had welcomed her into their home. In fact, mum always says that she is blessed to have a mother-in-law and not a monster-in-law. Married at the tender age of 14 to a labourer, she had been a loyal and supportive wife. Grandfather, when he was alive, would sometimes regale us with stories from his past. He would fondly tell us that he was a lucky man to have married grandma although the circumstances under which they got married were not so joyous. Grandma had been the village beauty but when the Japanese invaded Malaya, my great grandfather, grandma’s father, decided that marriage was the only solution to save her from the clutches of the rampaging Japanese soldiers who went around raping and abducting young girls. “We did not marry for love, but survival. Yet we are happy, unlike many young couples these days who split even before the honeymoon is over!” Grandma always looked shy and demure when grandpa was in his story-telling moods. Blessed with three sons, they worked hard to bring up their boys. Grandpa and grandma, who were both illiterate, made sure that their sons got the...
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