What Would It Take?

The champion on stage glides through choreographed music and synchronous applause. Some programmed tears that pop up for the camera do not take away the effort, dedication, talent and sacrifice of the winner. Being cognizant of what would it take to become a champion makes him more of a champion.

At other times, proximity numbs us from examining other lives. An uncle who waded through water to study. A neighbour who flew fighter planes. A good writer who has kept stubborn company of writing whilst  barely being able to pay his bills, ensconced in obscurity.  The list is limitless and has a promiscous stride across all walks of life. 

The spectacular ordinariness of everyday life can be cruel. What would it take to live an ordinary life that makes a difference to many, long after death.  Stellar lives with patently ordinary hues.  

For instance, what would it take to live like my great grandmother?

What would it take be like her?

What would it have taken to have a large heart, a loud mouth and a stellar soul?  The coop of grandkids and the farm of great grandkids will stand testimony to her dynamic presence and frame.  Some have her nose. Others have her presence. But none have it all. Which makes me wonder what would it have taken to be her?

Imagine 1950’s and 60’s.  Imagine being stopped at the gate of a large university in a big city, where you have travelled to. You are stopped at the gate, as you push for an admission for your grand daughter.  Imagine, you push your way across, stride through the portals of the University and go argue with a much heralded professor. Imagine winning the argument. Now imagine doing it all as a rural illiterate lady. That was her. Now tell me, what would it take to be like her?

To see a family splinter yet not lose hope. To see her wealth being usurped yet believing in abundance. To live through hatred and division with love. To believe in the girl child.  To walk tall. To love deep. To stay curious. Thats my memory of her. Enough for me to strive to learn what would it take to be like her.

I remember her free spirit and ready smile. Her worlds and her views. Her elegance and poise.  But most of all, I remember her stories. Those were vivid stories and there would be no ‘moral of the story’ at the end of it all. ‘Go figure’ she used to say. Her presience always stood alongside her presence. 

As I lit a lamp in her memory, I wondered if I should write about her. And then almost heard her sing Bharathiar‘s song to me. 

அச்சமில்லை யச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே
உச்சிமீது வானிடிந்து வீழுகின்ற பொதினும்
அச்சமில்லை யச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே

(Roughly translated to: No fear. No fear. Even when the skies implode no fear no fear)

“It doesn’t matter what others think of you or your work. Do what is right. And do it well”, she said. Even as she sank. That was many years ago.

I wish I knew what would it take to be like her.

An earlier piece about her is here

One thought on “What Would It Take?

  1. Praveen Rodrigo says:

    Kavi,
    This is the best blog of yours!! I read it in amazement!!

    What would it take to be like her? Not education. It’s the life lessons that she learnt along the way. Salute to your grand mother.

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