This is my grandmother, I called her Ammama.
Ammama was my best friend. I can’t remember why really, I don’t remember what we talked about. I just wanted to be with her and she wanted to be with me. We would walk hand in hand to church, I was a Catholic back then, every week. We walked slowly because she was old.
We’d stop at a tea shop and the Malayali people running the shops would recognise a fellow Keralite and say, “Chai for Ammama, don’t keep her waiting”.
She commanded respect with her distinctive white clothes, a common sight on older women in Kerala but unusual in Chennai, and her bidi smoking.
“Why do you smoke Ammama, women don’t smoke.”
“Well I do,” she would say.
My Ammama was an inspiration to me. She was tough, she worked in building sites hefting bricks to and fro. She brought up four children and provided for her family alone. Circumstances required her to be hard and make difficult decisions but she was loving and kind.
Ammama is one of my main role models. She’s a woman and I’m a man.
I wanted to spotlight that it’s perfectly possible for a woman to be a man’s role model. And vice versa. Our boys can want to be Maggie Aderin Pocock and our girls can want to be Tim Peake. Yes we still need proper representation of all people in books, tv and movies. And we can all be influenced by each other whether we’re boys, girls or non-binary.