Monday, April 6, 2009

The invisible bond between the Grands

 Its been a long time since I wrote here last but I am always glad to be here. The thing is, I have got something, something of a topic, something that has been in my mind and now I thought of putting it here for record.


It’s a known fact that people tend to be more attracted towards the opposite sex. Yes, its true. Fathers are more affectionate towards daughters, they bond each other well. Same way mothers are more caring towards sons and vice-versa. I am currently reading Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and I can see how the author is more comfortable with her father than her mother with whom she is having ego clashes every now and then. You would know of the same if you read the book. This affinity may be one reason why husbands choose to have baby girl but wives choose to have a baby boy. In my family also, I have observed my cousins (sisters) having fight with their Moms very often but very rarely with their Dads. I have also seen them talking so nicely with their Dad, discussing matters and taking opinions but the moment their Mom enters into their conversation the conversation slowly heats up and always ends up in loud clashes. I have also marked a kind of affection the Mothers have for their sons. Why is it common that you see your Mom sweating it out in the kitchen, making myriad dishes because her son is coming home after a long time? Have you closely noticed the love in her eyes when she is watching her son gobbling up the dishes. Why is it that daughters find themselves more comfortable talking with their Father about their boy-friends and then ask their Father to talk to Mom regarding this? Why do they rarely approach their Mother about this? When they need money, why the daughters ask their Dad while the sons coax their Mother. Why the Dad would support her daughter on her higher studies while the Mom is trying to marry her off? Why would the Dad scold his unemployed son everyday but Mom would sneak 500 bucks from Dad’s pocket and give to her son? Strange, isn’t it? You must have felt the same, no? Of course there will be people who would differ and I am not saying I am God. But even though this might not be true for you but you must have observed it in other families.

Although this kind of affection is very common but there exists other similar bindings as well. For instance, the older people more friendly with small kids, their grandchildren and vice-versa. Teenagers are rebels, they are young and full of energy, revolutionary. They may have ego clashes with their parents, but they talk with their grand parents. This bond is more vivid if younger the kid and older the grandparents. I’ll tell you my experiences.


While in my school days, I was staying with my Mom and elder brother and we lived in the same city as of my granny’s (mother’s side). During holidays we would visit them. I especially enjoyed the summer vacation when other members would also convene in granny’s big house. My cousins (I have lots of ‘em), uncles, aunts, everyone will be there. It was like a commotion, a revelry. I clearly remember the happiness and excitement in my cousins’ face when they see the olds, they all would touch his feet (and granny’s also) and make some joke (oh, I see some more white hair there) and everybody laughing. I was very fond of my grand parents (both of ‘em). Everyday my Granny would wake me up early (5 am) and I would go and fetch flowers for her prayers before others could. She would ask me for this because she knows I don’t mind. So my day would begin while others would be sleeping. I would bring the news paper to my Grandpa and accompany him to the milkman’s house to fetch milk. His friends from the neighbors (all of his own age) would also join us. The whole time they would just talk and talk and I would just listen. My Grandpa was born in the 1920s. His era was completely different than what is mine now. Many a things that I had studied in history, he had actually witnessed them. That was one of the major reason I liked to hear him out. I would often ask him stuffs like “Have u seen Nehru, Gandhi? Is it true they say Nehru would always keep a red rose in his vest pocket? How you used to travel to distant places? What was the railway like? What were the British like?” His answer were like a whole new story for me. Each question fired at him would return as some true life experience that he witnessed and nonetheless fascinating. He and his friends would converse, complain, blame, suggest, advice and what not. Their sentences would always start with “In my days it used to be like this…” Their life was hard. They were without TV, mobile, cars. In fact our time would seem hard for our grand children. The reason why olders are fond of kids like us because their life stories are amusement for us and they know it. We would always listen to his stories with our mouth wide open and he enjoyed thrilling us equally. He would show me the coins of his era. They are no less than a treasure. He would show me a coin and say “look, this is 1 anna, this is 1/4th of anna, this one 1/8th of anna etc.” I would jump out of my seat with excitement and realize that the 1 Re coin that we use today which is also called barah-anna and is called so because there existed a currency called anna and when you bring 12 annas together it makes for 1 Rupee. The same logic also explains why 50 Paise is also called aath-anna (8 annas) and 25 Paise called char-anna (4 annas). Amazing!!!! I never knew of the logic before I saw the anna.


My Grandfather never failed to surprise me. Every single thing of his was a story and learning experience for me. When I was a kid (10-12yrs) I would always accompany him for his market trip. There he would teach me how to pick the best of vegetables, how to know which one would taste good, how to make use of your senses (touch, see, smell even hearing sometimes) and choose the best one. I was amazed to see his knowledge about everything in the market. He had an idea about every vegetable present there. He knew which one tastes what. I had seen grown-ups looking at some new stuff in the market and asking the vendor “Hey, what is it and how does it taste and how do you cook it etc.” I never saw Grandpa making that question and in fact he would be the first one to explain me about it when he would see my curious look over the new vegetable. We generally assume with old age experience comes automatically but when I see my Grandpa like this I believe he fought for it. He not only incorporated it but he ingrained it in himself like a tattoo, for the rest of his life. That’s why I valued his teaching.

When we would return home my aunts (his daughters) would generally complain “Oh Daddy, why would you bring this and that, why would you spend so much on it etc etc” and my Grandpa would usually say “So wht if its expensive, it definitely tastes good and moreover I bought this for my grand kids. Who knows this may be the only time they will taste something like it.” Such was his love for us.


They would feed us new things everyday. Sometimes Grandpa would bring crabs for lunch. There is a lot of process involved before a live crab is made ready to cook. The crab seller doesn’t do it. You have to do it. And the problem is not all of people know how to do it and that is the reason why crab is rarely served for lunch in our house. But my Grandpa knew the process and every time he would bring crabs, he would explain it to me. The process is very tiring, slow, and requires precision and patience. You have to separate the limbs one after another, hit the scale at some particular place only and be careful about hitting at other places. There is no harm if you tear it apart like papers from books except that its very ‘crab-like’ taste will be lost. So very delicately and patiently he would follow it and explain it to me at every step. This is the eye, this is its claws and this is its joints, this portion tastes the best, this piece tastes salty etc. It’s a very rare art, to say. I have eaten crabs only 2-3 times in my lifetime and that too only at my Granny’s. This speaks for it. And I must admit, I can still feel the smell and taste of it, thanks to my Grand Parents. No one else in my family know about the crab business so I never got to eat one after my Grand Father expired.


While having lunch also, he would guide us to the very minute details. He would tell us how to hold that chicken piece and try sucking into that hole and lo and behold, the bone marrow of chicken is in my mouth and it tastes awesome, thankyou Grandpa, I never knew of it. Then sometimes he would pass one of his meat piece to me and say “It’s the liver of the chicken, it must taste good to you” and my aunts would say “Dad, that was for you, you should have those, you like it” and then my Grandpa would go “so what, I have got others, see.” You see, these nice little gestures of love and affection made me admire him all the more.


My Grandma is no less the woman. She is a terrific woman. If Grandpa’s area of expertise was the outside world, Granny is the queen of the house. She takes care of everything related to housekeeping, from cooking to cleaning. She is amazing at cooking especially. I am personally a big fan of hers and I know Sanjeev Kapoor or any of the world’s other greatest cooks cannot dare to match her (atleast for me). Her each and every dish in on the tip of my tongue. Anytime anywhere, I can clearly feel the smell and taste of her food. That is her magic. I would always long to visit her and the thought of her hand cooked delicious food was always on my mind. Give her any combination of vegetables and she will always surprise you. I remember many a times it had happened that suddenly we discover that there is nothing in the house except this few vegetables and that too partially rotten and then Granny would see the stuffs and say “why not make something like …” and everybody else would go “wht??????? (with wide eyes)No No it wont work etc” and Granny would do some this and that zig-zag and Bingo, the most awesome dinner ever eaten. We, the tiny grand kids were her greatest critics.

She is very polite and soft spoken too. I had personally witnessed her intelligence and common sense many a times. I consider her the most intelligent person in our family, hands down without a doubt. I can say this because no one else but I, had myself seen her in action. Sometimes I would come to her with some problem, she would look at it, do some changes and say “try this one now, I think it will work” and I would go  “Oh My God. Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant. Genius bla bla bla.” Sometimes when I think of those instances I have a feeling that why I haven’t come across any such intelligence from others, from people of my age. Sometimes I would think,  look at my Granny, she didn’t study past class 8 but she is no match to a graduate of our generation. Her intelligence that I witnessed I hardly believe someone else can amaze me like that.


Another thing that reminds you of your Grand parents is their death. For a majority of kids, their first experience with death is through their grandparents. It hurts them the most. After all these years of learning, sharing, joy, play times, its death suddenly. That old man is cold now. When I saw my Grandpa’s dead body and my family members sitting beside it and crying hysterically, I suddenly knew that that old man meant so much for others and for you and that you are going to miss him dearly. The feeling drove me further towards him. It’s been said that grandparents are reborn in the form of their grandchildren. I think its probably because there exists a strong, invisible and unconscious bond between them. I admit my life has very much been influenced by my Grandpa and Grandma. I am sure it must be the same with you too.

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