Nelson Lowhim
3 min readAug 25, 2021

As I stared at my grandma’s coffin, I sat up higher and caught a glimpse of the bridge of her nose. I’m not sure why that did it, but my memories sparked up: arriving alone in India with my sister, her mocking chitrahaar videos, her last kind words to me, telling me how I would turn out fine, it was going to be hard, this writing, but I was going to be fine. Still in the background her worries about what I had become were always there. Tears filled my eyes as I shuddered.

I was once very close to my grandma. She, the matriarch of the family, raised me and my sister for a year and a half in the shadow of the Red Fort in Dehli. I remember the stories she would tell us: about the heroes of the subcontinent, the vile men of Empire (that old Empire), her family, my parents, our uncles, and a full familial saga — with the ups and downs written by finances and love — how everyone currently together met and who was succeeding and who wasn’t. Good intentions always taken advantage of, bad intentions always frowned upon.

I sometimes got the sense that the men in the family had either been too brutal or too romantic. Sometimes both.

Still, she wove a rich tapestry between the past and now, tales of actions and consequences. And oh were the consequences dire for those who were too naive, too romantic. All this helped gestate and grow my love for narratives.

I’m certain that these stories were not meant to make me a writer. When I was fully into my writing, I asked her to share those stories with me again, and she refused.

We had grown estranged over the years and my direction was what did it, I think. Maybe she withheld those stories because I’d taken the wrong lessons, they didn’t have the intended effect.

Maybe it was everything else that I’d chosen. Maybe something else broke in her that those stories didn’t seem to matter anymore. No more consequences, or perhaps life was filled with too random a set of consequences for there to be any worthwhile lessons.

I suppose, right here and now, writing this, I’m not thinking on her death so much as her life and those stories and what had died in me recently, with respect to telling them to people. I’m thinking about how she ended up not telling stories anymore.

That’s why I came up with those reasons above.

Because I’m not sure about my own reasons.

My stories not having the intended effect is certainly one thing I think of. I’ve had my words taken as useful by people I consider to be on the cusp of evil. Mostly, I’ve felt the futility of telling these stories. Even get the sense that all stories are mined for someone with greater power to benefit. Conspiratorial times, these.

So am I coming to a similar conclusion as my grandma? Perhaps a similar mistake?

I don’t know.

That’s the thing about life, there are few straight answers.

I am, of course, back on track with writing stories, tales. I’m not sure anymore about their intended audiences, or effect. Now I’m just writing to tell stories, that’s it. A fool in a tale my grandma would tell? Maybe. And maybe I’ll be a good warning to someone else down the line.

Nelson Lowhim

Writer, Artist, Immigrant, & Veteran observing our mad dance of apes. Check out my Patreon & show some love: https://www.patreon.com/nlowhim