This article was published in The Star Malaysia’s Heart and Soul column on 1 July.
My grandmother, the original Wonder Woman, who gave the best Dunlopillo hugs.
“My grandmother didn’t tell me how to live. She lived, and let me watch her do it.”
I am paraphrasing a quote by American writer Bud Kelland, but it is so apt that I had to borrow it.
My grandmother glided through life effortlessly – and always with a smile that radiated from her heart and twinkled out of her eyes. She faced every challenge with strength. She embraced every moment with love. And her chicken curry was legendary.
These are some of the lessons I learned through watching her:
Always maintain a sense of humour. Laugh often, and loudly. Your enthusiasm will be infectious. Your smile can spread through oceans of despair, over mountains of troubles, and soften even the hardest heart. Get on with it. Complaining is a waste of precious time. If you have a job to do, do it with grace and courage. Be grateful for your responsibilities – not everyone is so lucky.
Chill out. Getting angry or upset is hazardous to your health. A calm approach based on compassion and common sense will do everyone good, especially yourself. As will a hot cup of chaaya tea.
Hugs are underrated. Never underestimate the power of a genuine, warm embrace. It can melt away fear, tension and sadness in the young, the old, and everyone in between. Hold close the people you love. Hold them until you feel their pain evaporating. Don’t be the first to break away. If a child tells you, mid-hug, that you are as soft as a pillow, take it as a compliment.
Stay curious. You’re never too old to learn something new, be it a language, a card game, a skill or an idea. In an ever-changing world, adapting your mindset without compromising your values shows self-awareness and self-preservation. Also, being interested makes you interesting.
Get stuck in! Your appetite for food mirrors your appetite for life. Savour every moment. Lick your fingers. When you cook for others, cook with love in your heart, for this is the secret ingredient, in food and in life.
Rest in Peace, Muthashi.
(Sarada Menon passed away peacefully on April 11, at the age of 95.)
©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd