Zaitoon was now in her late seventies, a cold and unaffectionate grandmother of a dozen grandsons and granddaughters. She had lived a full life, the reason of her bitterness perhaps was that she had seen almost everything that she could had ever imagined. She had grown up in extreme poverty, having been orphaned at a very young age, she had been adopted by her uncle who had somewhat left a deep impact on her beliefs and life. She always held him in high esteem praising his hard work and zeal for surviving life in those harsh realities. She had taken after him and worked really hard to sustain her life. Having dropped out of school, she started on odd jobs initially. Later, in her teenage and early adolescence she went on from one craft to another; shoe making, carpet weaving, hand embroideries of aari (hook work) & sozni (needle work) till she finally settled on shawl making. She found her passion in shawl weaving and embroideries. She worked her way up to being a rich young woman by crafting handmade beauties of Pashmina that sold for gold in those times. She gained fame and with fame came money, and with that power. She thus lived her life as her uncle or parents would not even have dreamt of. A luxurious life, a fulfilled life; she had grown old to see the children of her grand children.

She was now old, strong apparently but weak in her heart. Gray streaks of hair ran between her snow white thin hair. She still dressed up every morning before coming to breakfast and was always quite concerned with her appearance, unlike other grannies of her age. She was very particular of her diet and worked some hours of the day in the garden to get some exercise. She was very fond of flowers and fruit trees and tended after them like they were her real family. It seemed like she loved them more than the people around her. She was very strict and still commanded a sound discipline in her presence. Her children were still somewhat in awe of her and hardly spoke a word to her face. As for her grandchildren, they hardly got to know the warm, affectionate granny, their friends always spoke of.  She was very cold to them, speaking with them only when she needed something. She was not the story teller, spoiler kind of a granny. No, she was different. Ayesha always wondered whether she was like that inside of her heart as well. Or was she just putting this face to the outside world. She always looked at her grandmother as someone who was living with them but still very distant. She always obeyed her, on her parent’s advice, but she never felt the warmth of the relationship that should have been between them. She like all her siblings and cousins, wanted to have the loving granny like everyone else had, but Zaitoon could never be that to them, at least not to Ayesha and her sisters.

Zaitoon did not just dislike them; she hated them, which from time to time, her actions made quite evident. She had grown fed up of the life and at her age you would wonder she would have a secret wish for death. And that would be so wrong. Having grown alone all her life; first without parents , then without her husband who died shortly after her last of 7 children was born, she had grown used to the feeling of being alone. She had had a long tiring life, having had to raise her uncle’s family as a teenager and then her 7 children as a single mother. She had accomplished everything on her own, that is how the world knew. She sometimes cried, remembering the hard times she had faced, while she spoke to her children and their children. That would be occasionally when they all gathered together in her house, for a wedding or some other get together. She was still famous and was always praised for her accomplishments in life as a youngster and as a single mom. But she had secrets of her own, a huge part of her life that remained concealed from everyone. She never remarried, she never gave up. She was a strong headed woman, who knew how to move on in her life.

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