I was visiting my aunt in a nearby village after a long time. My aunt's 75-year old mother-in-law looked at me and I was expecting the 'when are u getting married' question when she surprised me by asking if I would like to join her for coffee. The effects of urbanization had reached this village too and her sons had split and the younger son and his wife worked the whole day in a nearby factory. So, she had no company for her evening coffee. I gladly accepted the offer especially when she offered sugarless coffee. She needed my help with the kerosene stove and soon coffee was ready. I offered to teach her how to light the LPG stove but she was scared to try something new. Our talk moved onto dinner and granny expressed her disapproval of her daughter-in-law's lack of dedication while cooking because of the TV. I watched her patiently as she waited for all the mustard seeds to splutter and then added the masala which was ground using the grinding stone. I had just got some lessons on slow food. I offered to teach her to light the LPG stove again, but she refused. Another lesson - do not try to teach until the student is ready. I watched in awe as she made perfect ragi balls for the entire family. At the end of the cooking, the kitchen was tidy. Needless to say, the sambhar she prepared was yummy and mom keeps asking me for that recipe. What I realized at the end of the day was that all the granny needed was someone to talk to and someone to share her wisdom so that she feels valued for her contribution to the society however minute it is.
I experienced a similar situation yesterday, with our elderly neighbor aunty.
Mom and I were bragging about the sandige (a south Indian fried snack) that we had prepared.
Aunty got excited and offered to teach us aralu sandige - a version of sandige made with puffed rice. It was the same need for sharing what she knew and passing it on to the next generation. I realized at a micro level why some institutions are focusing on grandmothers' wisdom for our own sustainability. For now, I am off to my grandmom's place to finish my lesson on rangoli that I had started a few months back.