When I was born, both my paternal grandparents as well as my maternal grandfather were dead. Only my maternal grandma was alive almost until my thirties. When she was born, they named her Meenakshi, the presiding deity of Madurai. As she grew older and older, her beautiful name got transformed to Meenachee Patti which sounded almost abusive. She never called me by my name as it was her husband’s name and stuck to calling me ‘Pappa’ (Child). She continued to call me so even after I became father of two daughters! She was a very orthodox woman who wore a white sari which covered her clean shaven head – the mark of a widow. She regularly took the services of a barber who came home to shave her head. My grandma would never fail to tell him to shave off only her hair and not the head. Not only after her tryst with the barber but even on regular days, she would summon all the known gods as noisily as possible. She had two reasons for this practice of hers. One was to beat the cold of the early morning bath as she would never use hot water. The other was to warn others that there was someone inside having a bath as the bathroom had no doors! The trade mark of my grandma was the chanting beads in hand throughout the day. She would keep rolling it chanting the lord’s name and every time the chanting reached ten or twenty she would break it to enquire if the sambar was getting over-cooked or who was knocking the door and things like that. She would add to her query about knocking at the door that we should make all our payments regularly, her assumption being that only creditors knocked at the door in the mornings. She was an excellent cook and whatever she cooked just melted in our mouth. She was unparalleled in making pickles and she made delicious pickles of anything and everything. Her bitter gourd pickle was a speciality. There was a shop close to our house that sold herbs of all kinds. Regular visit to the shop made her a quack and even when we sneezed, she would make a concoction of some strongly smelling herb and force it down our protesting throat. As a result, we never aired our health problems in her presence. She had great belief in ghosts and the ghosts too never failed to whet her appetite for them with regular visits. She had very sensitive ears to listen to them particularly when sleeping at night and would answer them in a loud voice. Their topics had a great range and she would tell us the scary details of their conversation in a matter-of-fact way. Despite her close association with ghosts, she was regular temple goer. She would spend her time in the temple to pick up gossips and come back home to narrate the same to us after applying the holy ash on our forehead. She always started narration of her gossips with a ‘You know what?’ As there was no TV or radio in our house, she was our main source of entertainment. As I fondly recollect her overwhelming presence in our family, I realise how modern life has destroyed our interpersonal relationship. Everything is so very mechanical these days. But then who am I to say that our days were better? How can I rate the scary stories that our grandmas and aunts narrated to us as way better than today’s TV shows and reading materials?