Our Female Sages

Her eyes looked upon me so kindly beneath her wrinkled, soft skin. Her glasses shimmered with wisdom while her smile penetrated my soul. It was just another visit with Grandma and I was feeling like my time spent with her was invaluable. 

This picture and article was originally published in The West Indian last year on the day my Grandma passed away August 6th. She must have been working in mysterious ways. The caption was “My Grandma, Narinamah Julain Pardesi. 75 Years and Going Strong.” Now she will be living strong in our hearts forever.

There is something mystical about the old. Those who have wisdom through their years always amaze me. Like my Grandma, so many elders have wisdom through the rare ability of telling the truth. Having lived for so long and witnessing so much of life, the truth comes easier off the tongues of those with age. I learned about the wonders of old people since I was a child when I was about four years old.
We were on our way to Florida on an American Airlines flight. I was happy to have the company of my dentist Barbie along with my Mother, Father, and older sister. I was four and it was a great age to be. I was able to wander around and get away with it, I could play with all of the airline stuff and still be cute, and I was able to charm the passengers in conversation. My Mother was always concerned with my habit of wandering off and speaking to strangers, but I still did it anyway. And that flight was no excuse.
I began to strike up a conversation with an elderly passenger with blonde hair. From what I remember her hair was long like mine and was in a braid. It was such a wonderful similarity and the old woman found me to be very intriguing. I can’t remember what we spoke about that day, but all I remember is that we spoke for a while. My Mom found me speaking to her and was so relieved yet also so surprised to see I had so much in common with the elderly woman. That was the first notable time that I exhibited the curiosity for wisdom from elderly women.
When I was about five years old, my bike was my main mode of transportation. I would dress up in my fanciest jumpsuits to have a chat with my favorite two old grandmas on the corner of my block. Each day I would bike my way to the corner and talk to my old friends. They were both exact opposites of each other, but they lived together and had the strongest friendship I had ever seen. It was like Rose and Dorothy from the popular television show Golden Girls. One of the women was a smoker and the tougher out of the two. The other older woman was very kind and I remember her love for holidays as she put out a different flag for each season and celebration. I thought when I was older; I wanted my house to be just like theirs.
Each day I would take a trip to hear their lively conversations. They always helped me and gave me advice whether it was when I talked about my family or the little boy on the block who gave me flowers unnecessarily. They were always there for me, until the day that the tougher women passed away. I was so sad and couldn’t understand why she went away. After that, the other kind old lady didn’t come out on the porch very often and she eventually sold the house on the block. I couldn’t bike there anymore, but I remember her telling me goodbye. I knew that she really would miss me and I would miss her too.
There is something to say about relationships with the elderly. Although death comes without warning, curiosity for life never ends. Throughout my life, I’ve explored conversations with elderly women and have found that they are our modern day female sages. I’ve encountered so many old wise women that often hold the key to life’s simplest mysteries. I remember each time I visit a close friend; I always take the time to chat with her “Aaji” or Grandmother.  Although she doesn’t always remember what grade I’m in, she tells me “Just take you education and do your best. God will bless you if you try.” And sometimes it’s just as simple as that. It was advice from someone who has lived through many decades and has seen it all through a female perspective from Guyana, to here, to now.
Perhaps my interest in the elderly is because of the fact that I spent a significant amount of time with one of the wisest old women of my time, my Grandma. Her influence has pushed me to find out more about the older women in our community who are so strong, hold so dearly to cultural and religious values, and are often such amazing mothers who defy all odds to have the best for their family. My Grandma always tells me to study hard, she encourages me to reach my fullest potential, and she always listens to my long, circular stories whether they are interesting or not. My Grandma is a progressive, and despite her age, her wisdom increases with relevance to our times. Sometimes the simplest words are the most applicable to life. Her advice is so familiar, yet so relevant and that’s what makes her a modern day female sage.
I’ve always discovered the sincerest advice from elderly women whom I feel a close connection with. Some would call me an old soul, but I like to think of it as just doing the smarter thing.  It’s wiser to get advice from those who’ve lived. Sometimes by taking the time to hear the elderly you could gain a different perspective on life. To me these elderly women are our modern day female sages, and this article is a tribute to the strong old women that lived.
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One comment on “Our Female Sages

  1. […] Last year I wrote an article in tribute to my Grandma titled “Our Female Sages” It was published on August 6, 2011. This year on August 6, 2012 my Grandma passed away. […]

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