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A Guardian Angel

IT was five days short of my 30th birthday when I received a text message that read 'Michael Jackson had died!'. Such an earth-shatteringly shocking news it was, and yet all I did was toss the phone away, and focus on driving without a thought on the greatest entertainer who ever lived. On a regular instance, I would have immediately gone online to verify the claim, and followed the news of the tragedy and mourned for the man who had yearned to heal the world. But it was barely a normal instance when I got that text message because my Grandma, who had defined my world had died just a few hours from MJ on June 25, 2009.

It's funny that I was also driving when my brother rang to ask if I was okay before he calmly released the news of Grandma's passing. He told me to drive back carefully before hanging up. I clutched the mobile phone close to me and drove with a numb mind. A woman most important in my life had died, and I wasn't there by her side. I wanted to cry, tell some people about it, make some noise but it was almost as if my senses were paralysed. So I drove home, packed my things and left to my hometown in the north. On the solitary drive home, a myriad things came to mind and kept me company. Still, my eyes were dry as a desert and jaws stiff as cold wax.

Seeing Grandma on her deathbed for the first time was unnerving. All cleaned up and dressed in a white, embroidered gown, she seemed asleep. I sat by her side, touched her arm like I always did and watched her. She didn't move. Not that I expected her to but a tiny part of me desperately hoped that she would. Just 10 days earlier, she had moved the same arm, and waved me goodbye when I left her. She was seated in her wheelchair by the door, with a forlorn look on her face. I bit my lips hard, waved back and drove away, and in that very instance, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the last time I'd see her alive. I spent the next 10 days feeling bitter and angry because she was leaving real soon, and everytime there was a call from home, I was panic-stricken. Yet I was shocked beyond words when my brother rang me.

I helped to sling a white glove over Grandma's stiff hand, and as I did, I was struck with a deep surge of emotion all too sudden, causing an oasis of hot tears to roll down my cheeks onto the body laid in white. It dawned on me then that it was the last time I'd ever help her put on anything. I thought of the tiny, white-lace, christening dress and a matching hat that she had sewn me when I was born. And of all the pretty dresses I had worn as a young girl, all sewn by Grandma. Of all the little things she had taught me. Of all our times together. Her life was a big lesson to me as I watched and learnt. There are some things I'd never attempt in my life, and there are many things I'll take to my grave as they have become a way of life. All thanks to Grandma.

In my eulogy during the funeral service two days later, I had wanted to say so many things but decided to keep it simple. It was simpler to focus that way. There were just too many things to be said, but I was really glad and thanked God for letting me experience Grandma in the many ways that I did. I surely miss her, and will always do for the rest of my life. I believe she is there for me as a guardian angel now.

As for MJ, the world misses him. 
I joined the world to mourn for him during the memorial service on July 6. It was easy to grieve.

One of my favourite pics of Mr. Jackson


  1. RIP Grandma Jayaraj and MJ

  2. That's a touching tribute to your Grandma, Jaya. It must have given her comfort to know that you and others would carry on after her.

  3. I will be devastated when my Grandma passes away, so l can only imagine how sad you must have been to lose yours. I am sure she would have been really proud of all she had taught you. X

  4. Very beautiful tribute to your grandma, your guardian angel.

  5. When I read the first part of your post, I said SSSSSH@t! out loud. Hope you didn't somehow hear that, Jaya J, but it all sounded so familiar. Too familiar even. The night before my Granny died in the hospital, she was smiling and upbeat, and I was relieved to learn that she was doing reasonably well. I said goodnight to her and went home. Then the next morning I got a phone call saying I should come to the hospital immediately. I remember throwing my cellphone against the wall, driving like a maniac and finding her dead and gone. Just a few minutes too late. I cried and after that I shut down like you did. And when MJ died I was driving, too. I remember shaking my head on hearing the news and being quiet. I just knew that guy wouldn'get old. He was so happy when Thriller came out, and the world with him. I was there. I saw him life on stage on more than one occasion and new he was gone, too. Sigh. Who's next, right?


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