Among the many characters and the relationships woven into the great Mahabharatha, Lord Krishna and his friendship with Arjuna stand out. Legend tells us that when the Pandavas were considering waging war against the Kauravas, Arjuna approached Lord Krishna for his help. Lord Krishna asked him, ‘Would you like me on your side, acting as your charioteer, or would you like the mighty Yadava army to fight with you?’ Without hesitation, Arjuna choose Lord Krishna for his friendship and wise counsel.
Later, as the two armies stood facing each other on the Kurukshetra battlefield, Arjuna was overcome with emotions at the sight of his dear family members and gurus on the other side. Lord Krishna then delivered the Bhagawad Gita, counselling Arjuna to fulfil his duties as a warrior and uphold righteousness.
Why this narration? Well, for most of my adult life, I’ve always secretly thought to myself that I have my very own Krishna, a friend, philosopher and guide, in the form of my maternal grandmother. My Patti is a truly extraordinary woman. A trailblazer in her own right, a national award winner, and someone who has changed the lives of so many. But I’ll save that for another day. Today is about my special relationship with her.
Over the last ten years, I can recollect countless occasions when I turned to Patti for advice. I guess the child in me assumes that she will be able to fix anything, give me a solution to every problem. I’ve never regretted talking to her. And every time I speak to Patti, I come away feeling comforted. Is it the wise counsel, the very solid and absolute trust I have in her and in my belief that she will only want the best for me, or simply that hearing her voice reminds me of her warm hugs and is such a comfort? My heart tells me it’s probably a mix of all of these.
My grandmother is by no means a perfect human being. She will be the first to admit that she has made many mistakes in life. We are both strong-willed, stubborn, independent women, from two different generations with wildly varying opinions. Our conversations run the gamut from argumentative, to thoughtful, to deeply-introspective. But, the one thing I’ve learnt from her is that decisions should be judged in light of the circumstances in which they were made. And Patti too has changed, watching all our lives.
When I moved to the U.S., one of my greatest fears was that I would lose this relationship. That living so far away would mean that we would miss the everyday conversations that were the foundation of our relationship. That everyday life would take over and we would forget to tell each other how much we loved the other. Happily, that has not been the case. I wake up to Patti sending me pictures of a new saree, weekend conversations on FaceTime and even the occasional call in the middle of a weekday when I’m upset and just want to hear her voice.
My Patti had a rough childhood. I’ve always believed that she over-compensated for that by making sure we had the most glorious time and never wanted for anything.
Like I said, I come from a line of strong, independent women, going back several generations. And of all the family resemblances, I believe my most striking resemblance is to my maternal Patti, in both looks and temperament. Every time I hear someone saying I look just like Patti, I break out into a big grin. To be told I look like someone who is gorgeous, both inside and out, in such a compliment.
My best friend, philosopher and guide. My grandmother has played and continues to play so many roles in this lifetime. Call me partial, but if you ask me, she excels at being my Patti the most.