PROFILE: My Grandmother – analyst, sociologist, psychiatrist, private investigator, prosecutor, authoritarian leader, oracle extraordinaire. Born and raised on a village farm, she spent most of her working years as a nurse before dedicating herself to the experimental task of raising ME. If I had to think about one word that describes her best, it would be suspicion. With Grandma, there is no such thing as ‘innocent until proved guilty’. We’re all guilty. Of everything. And it’s only a matter of time before she gets to the bottom of it.
To the inexperienced eye, Grandma represents the humble Eastern European old woman with a garden, who cooks, cleans and takes care of every living soul within her jurisdiction – that’s 3 cats, 7 dogs, me, mom and stepdad. Many have fallen victims to this intricate illusion of innocence and, for 14 years, I myself was naive enough to believe that Grandma had nothing to do with the intrigues surrounding my adolescence. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Beneath that apron hides the mastermind of a thousand conspiracies, to whom even the likes of Dan Brown should offer their respects. Sitting on our terrace, with her fat female cat in her lap, Grandma observes, plots and carefully collects data from our casual conversations over dinner, only to piece everything together into one big speculation that baffles the common sense out of me and my mother.
You also have to trust me when I use the term ‘jurisdiction’ because her *Terms and Conditions always apply. Being the bo$$ of the land, all inhabitants must abide by her code of conduct. For instance, I can’t walk out of the house with a cleavage or a short dress and neither can I come back from a night out without being invited to an office (kitchen) interrogation the next day. Every unidentified car that stops in front of our gate is thoroughly inspected, a situation which often escalates if I happen to step out of it. And don’t think that I’m her only target – I may be the juiciest catalyst in our family but the last time my mother arrived late from a business dinner, she was accused of having an affair.
So you can see how living with my Grandmother can be a stimulating experience.
Last year, I had a really hard time going though my year in Computer Science. Five months into the course, I was sad and hopeless and computer illiterate, close to giving up as I was to failing the year. Then, during a moment of lucid thinking, I decided to stay in England for the spring break and study study study, despite breaking my usual habit of flying back home every holiday.
For a while, my decision went unnoticed, until one day, as I was sweating off my brain in the library, I receive a call from my mom:
‘Do me a favour. Log onto Skype so that your grandmother can SEE that you’re in your room. She suspects that the reason you didn’t come home this spring is because you’re secretly visiting your father in Italy.’
For a person who hasn’t been exposed to anything but communism and 21st century country life, Grandma sure makes some bold accusations. So I log onto Skype, I talk to her and explain my reasons for skipping the home visit. Looking back on our conversation, I assume that all my talk was for nothing because the one and only thing she responded to and didn’t hesitate to point out was that I got a bit chubby since the last time she saw me. I denied everything. Ok, maybe half of my wardrobe didn’t fit me at the time, but I was stressed and the only thing that kept me going with my studies was Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew – end of story.
After that episode, my mom reported that Grandma was a peace and that ‘our operation’ had been a success. Needless to say, a week later I receive another phone call from my mother:
‘I need you to be honest about something.’
‘I didn’t fail yet, if that’s what you’re wondering.’
‘No, no that. Listen, I need to know: are you pregnant?’
Let me just say that nobody could ‘read my poker face’ at that moment.
‘Well… your Grandmother thinks this is the case.’
But it really wasn’t and I demanded an explanation. Turns out, Grandma had pulled off another one of her flawless inferences based on the following premises:
- the child refuses to come home on holiday despite having done so for the past 2 years
- she never sacrificed her free time for studying, EVER
- she obviously gained weight
- there is no available information on her romantic life
- her mother is always hiding something
THEREFORE, she must be pregnant.
Touché, Grandma, touché…
DISCLAIMER: All the above remarks are made with love. In our family, Grandma is highly cherished – for keeping us on top of our game, among many other things. She also sends me home-made pretzels in England, so my loyalty to her is absolute.