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I read Fredrik Backman’s book My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies.

It is the story of a seven-year-old girl Elsa, her grandmother and mother.

Her story could be my story. Her superheroes could be mine.

As Elsa picked three people she emulates, I will too at thirteen.

My choice: my grandma, ma and Mira ma’am; each steamed up over a different thing.

My grandma’s (my mother’s mom) realities differ from others as she is not all there. Here’s a simple case of how.

She wanted to buy a car to drive herself out of arguments.

She wanted to be away from people telling her to stop squawking and not to scare visitors with her appalling clothes with its spills and slops (the result of her advancing cataract and purple spider-veined cheeks).

It is another matter she is just shy of her 80s, does not know how to drive or possess a license. 

I am not surprised people call her ‘the old crank who is horn mad’.

She like Elsa's zany grandmother is sure “only different people change the world. No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.”

My grandma rarely has any human visitors. Birds and squirrels, who visit her every day, have names. And conversations with her.

Grandma says wisdom lies in asking questions of life’s mysteries. Of birds. Of people. Of unicorns who are real.

Batty? No just her reality. Her logic may not follow a straight line but presents many opportunities for wisdom.

Ma's fixation is tick-tock efficiency. Getting things done on time. To a hair’s breadth, to a minute. And just so.

We see that growing up means eating yucky, congealing oatmeal and doing homework without fail.

As much as it means banging on drums and cycling downhill against the whoosh of winds.

The dare devilries we will try this evening.

For this cool cracking of the rules code, maybe we will get plumped up dessert after dinner, ice cream and jalebis?

Do you think so, too? 

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She brings her own brand of poise and assuredness.

She tells me of Jane Goodal’s childhood love for a lifelike chimpanzee stuffed animal named Jubilee.

Of how her early love of animals developed into a lifetime effort to protect a wilderness of animals, chimpanzees in particular

She opens the world of the great astronomer Vera Rubin for me.

Despite facing resistance for being a woman astronomer, Rubin showed she did not care.

She resolutely turned her gaze heavenward, studied galaxies and confirmed the existence of dark matter.

She opened doors in astronomy and for women who made bold after her to break barriers.

While grandma urges me to ask questions not asked, Ma teaches me to forge ahead even if there is no path ahead.

Mira my tall, short-haired, bespectacled, sari-clad, umbrella-carrying teacher teaches me how to be in the moment.

To live each nanosecond. With radiance. As I am. Where I am. How I am.

These super-heroines teach me to hold my world together.

Flash fiction

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