My grandmother, who lives alone, and is visited seldomly, depends very much on the few regular interactions she has with people. The coming of the maid, for instance, is a vital event in the life cycle of a day. Without the maid, the day is squalid and forlorn; my grandmother ruminates variedly on the possibility that the maid has got pregnant, or that she has found another house, or that she is locked in a coup with the other scheming servants of the apartment complex.
Nearly as important, is the arrival of the poo-kaari with her grass bundle of flowers. In this case, my grandmother doesn't actually see the poo-kaari. She only hears the odd scramble of the grass against the door as the small woman tucks the bundle behind the latch.
When lying down, my grandmother typically takes time to get off bed to reach the door or telephone. In the interim, as she grips first the bed and then the walls for support, she will advertise the identity of the person she believes is at the entrance or at the phone:
"Must be Baba. He hasn't called in nine days. Must be Baba."
I notice that she does this even if, at the time the telephone (or door-bell) rings, she is positioned close to the telephone (or door). If this is the case, she merely says it much faster, in a hasty rumble-off-the-cliff way, as if all that matters between her and eternity is that she has said those words:
"MustBaba. Hasn't calledninedays. Baba."
When my grandmother speaks of the way her mother was ill-treated by her brother before she died, she is most passionate when she recounts the way her mother was denied her quota of television. The television is an old person's only friend, she says. Never take from an old person her television.
And so my grandmother, the seasoned, Tamil, pottu-wearing Eleanor Rigby will pass before me as a mirage of that which is observed in particles but never assembled.