"We are such stuff/
As dreams are made on; and our little life/ Is rounded with a sleep."
Coming back to the grandma remark, I marvel at the tenacity of the human race, where certain members with the hides of a rhinoceros (I have no idea what the plural of the animal is), come up to me with the familiarity of having taken my baby version in their laps and having named me themselves. (OK, that is a quaint idiom in Kerala which sounds better in Malayalam, I grant!)
When my sisters were born, one after the other, a tall spindly aunt came up to me. "Ah, well, now you will have to behave like an elder sister." Words well calculated to bring out the green-eyed monster lurking within.
After I metamorphosed from Army brat to Army wife, it was like shifting home to home. One evening, I wore my favourite blue jeans and a smart top to visit a senior officer and his wife. They looked me up and down, and as the evening progressed, I was aware of a cold vibe that quite baffled me. Later my exuberant young husband was hauled up. "Ah, well, your wife needs to behave like a lady wife."
Two years later, we had a visit from the stork, and life could not be more idyllic. When our pretty daughter was born, loads of "Ah, well" comments came whizzing by.
"Ah, well, better luck next time! You need a son to complete your family."
And "Ah, well, isn't it time you planned your next? There should be a minimum gap of three years between the two." Sound practical advice from a lady who had six daughters, whose oldest one was just four years younger than me.
We didn't really think it necessary to tell her that our family was as complete as it could be. There was nothing she could do about it, in any case.
As my daughter grew, I got back to wearing my jeans again, especially now that we were at a safe distance from the aforesaid senior officer. Now the comments were less barbed, more like compliments even. "Ah, well, when will you start looking like a mom?" I would usually smile and reply, "When my mom starts looking like a grandmom." A statement that often elicited a smile and a nod from those who knew my mother.
Then came the age of burgundy, when my hair began to act temperamental, and send up strands of grey, like truant blades of grass in a manicured garden. One lady, who had no sense of personal space, peered at my grey, and muttered, "Gosh, you look older than your mother."
"Time to dye!" I exclaimed to the horrified lady and I rushed to a salon, trying to push my way towards the various hair products that stood in a tantalizing line. Obviously, the whole world, and its wife, had the same idea. I finally emerged, my hair shining in burgundy hues, almost purple in the sunshine, elated with the transformation.
That evening, I bumped into an acquaintance, who looked through me. "Hi!" I ventured warily, wondering what on earth I had done wrong. "Hi," she replied, vaguely casting a glance at me. Suddenly her expression turned animated, and I was trumped. "What have you done to yourself? You look like a carrot top!"
"Uhh, burgundy top, actually," I muttered. It was a matter of wounded pride, after all.
"Ah, well, when will you start behaving like the mother of a teenager?" she answered crossly, casting a furtive look at her own halo of grey. Probably never, I said to myself, but I wasn't going to upset her further.
Of course, it doesn't all stop there. Today, I have an adorable granddaughter who keeps us young with all the joy she has brought us. God bless her!
Maybe I have grown up over the decades. I still walk around in my jeans, sport burgundy hair and funky glasses doing things that make people's brows go up. I post silly updates, take part in all those inane, feel-good Facebook quizzes, crack up at jokes that would make a hyena laugh, and have a jolly good time with my friends and family.
No longer does it daunt me when someone asks, "Ah, well, when are you going to behave like a grandma?" For tomorrow, when I am on my death bed, I am quite sure that another inquisitive soul will stand right over me (no sense of personal space even then) and say in a stage whisper, "Ah, well, when will she finally stop dyeing?"
Still in blue jeans... sorry, grey ones! :)