Yet again, it’s 31st May. A year gone by, again. And I can’t help but remember Mamma. Tears well up in my eyes – yet I dare not allow even one tear drop down. Mamma never liked us crying. Although, when times were really bad, I remember collapsing onto her lap and bawling my eyes out. She let me – and after I was done, she told me that crying was not okay always, and that there are times when you have to overlook the urge to cry and actually focus on what you have to do. And the advice has stuck with us through thick and thin – the Iron Lady after all, was more than a Grandma to us – she was like that friend, one, whose advice always made sense.
Today I’ll be writing about something which Mamma left back for me – Her Vintage Citizen Quartz Watch. It’s a little tale of how something so simple fell into my hands at a time when I did not even understand it’s value. But now I do – it is one prized possession that I will hold close to my heart forever.
We were allowed to wear wrist watches in school, Class 8 onwards. And though I was gifted a simple black leather belt watch with a gold dial at the beginning of the academic year, halfway through class 8, this shiny watch caught my eye. When Mamma was sorting her cupboard one day, she took out this watch – and as she told me about it, her face lit up. It was a gift from her nephew, who worked abroad those days. As he came back, he got something for his favorite uncle and aunt (my grandparents). Mamma loved the watch. She wore it everywhere – to work, to family functions, to parent teacher meetings – everywhere. And I don’t remember exactly why, but she stopped wearing it one fine day. And since then, the watch occupied a cold corner in the cupboard, safe inside a dabba. ‘Made in Japan’ it says – it has to be tucked away safely – after all, Imported jo hai!
And when I chanced upon it – it wasn’t how it looked in its prime years. A golden strap, that had faded down the years. A rectangular dial – with a crack right through it. It had stopped working long back too. Yet the strap was sturdy as ever and I couldn’t help but try it on. I don’t know why it caught my fascination so much – my eyes were gleaming as I was admiring my wrist bearing the albeit heavy watch on it. And I guess Mamma understood pretty quick how the watch had caught my liking (I’m pretty expressive that way) And she immediately smiled and quipped – “Do you want to use it?”
“Yes, yes, YES!” . There I was, squealing with delight, hugging her, and then running around in the home spreading this happy news. I went dancing in front of my sister showing her how Mamma had given her favorite, imported-wala watch to me!! And seeing my excitement about the watch, everyone else were like – fine fine, use it carefully though!
I remember that very evening Mamma and I walked to the local watch repairing shop. And the watch repair guy first admired the watch for its beauty, his eyes all gleamy. He’d probably come across a vintage watch after a long time! Then he told us he could get the watch started, but he couldn’t do anything about the cracked dial – they no longer manufacture the spare parts of these watches – he said. Mamma looked at me, questioningly – still love it as much? I recognized the look and replied – hell, yeah! I’m wearing that watch – cracked dial or not!
We finally got it repaired and I didn’t stop wearing the watch since then. It was with me during my 10th Boards, the day I went to collect my 10th marksheet and even the felicitation day. Everywhere. Occasions important or not – the watch was there. Then one day, halfway through 11th, it stopped working. And then I stopped wearing it too. I stopped wearing watches altogether back then.
A year after that, Mamma passed away. And somehow I couldn’t gather myself to even bring that watch out from it’s dabba – forget wearing it.
But finally I did it – I mustered the courage – on the day of my convocation. I so knew how my good old lady would be so proud of me, that she would have traveled all the way to the city, 20 km to my college in the heart of the city – only to watch my convocation. And I knew she’d be clapping her heart out, watching me walk on stage with the Topper’s sash to receive my degree. All this she would do – but couldn’t.
And deep down I knew, that the honors I was receiving were not mine completely– these honors were only because of innumerable sacrifices of Mamma and Ma – and I was indebted to them for the rest of my standing life. And so as I getting ready for my convocation day, I snuck into the cupboard and took out the dabba, opened it – there it was looking back at me, dull, yet classy. And though it was still dead, wasn’t working – I put it on. My outfit that day would be incomplete without this watch. I made sure a part of me honored the memory and contribution of my Iron Lady, my grandmother, my friend, my inspiration, my everything on my big day.
Couple of my friends even noticed I was wearing a watch that wasn’t working, they even asked me. I beamed back proudly and told them – “It’s my Granny’s.”
I consider this watch to be my lucky charm – and every time in life whenever I achieve something where I know Mamma would be sitting in the audience watching me, clapping, with pride in her eyes – I’m going to wear this very watch.
For me, this watch is more than just an accessory – it’s like Mamma’s watching – reminding me that her blessings are always with me, with us, no matter what. It’s like Grandma’s ‘WATCH’ing.
And I’m really grateful she gave us so many things to cherish, but among all of these I will be forever indebted to her for three things specifically:
1. A truckload of fond, dear, loving (I’ll fall short of adjectives here) memories that gave us the best childhood.
2. A spine of steel that taught us to look straight in the face of adversity and never look down. And also to walk with our heads held high, no matter what situation life throws us in.
3. Third and last – this Citizen Quartz Watch – because it’s a constant reminder – Grandma’s always Watching.