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Generation of grace

Another long holiday weekend ends. Just before which yet another World Elders Day went by too on October 1st. I can’t see a better Another long holiday weekend ends. Just before which yet another World Elders Day went by too on October 1. I can’t see a better chance to celebrate that most cherished bond. The one we have with grandparents.

Frail or full-bodied, mild or mad, family members of that generation form a really rich relationship whose worth beams brighter over the years. For those of us privileged to have grown up with at least one grandmother or grandfather, a parent’s parent of either gender is a blessing.

Somehow, though, my favourite real-life conversations involve children and a beloved grandmother.

“Nani, these earrings you always wear are beautiful. Will you give them to me?”

“Beta, of course, it’s you I’ve kept them for. You can use them after I die...”

“Thanks. So when do you think you will die?”

Here’s a gem of a chat between a brother and sister hearing their parents argue.

“Oh Gawd, till they stop yelling, I’m covering my ears!”

“Maybe they’ll divorce. My friend’s parents did that after lots of such shouting.”

“In a divorce, the dad has to give the mom enough money and stuff to look after the kids.”

“But we’ll only ask for Granny.”

“Ya, we just want her.”

Asked to give an example to show their understanding of the vastness of space, one little boy’s hand shot up in class.

“Space is the hugest thing around our planet. My Dadi asked me how much I love her.”

“Yes yes. But what do the two things have to do with each other?”

“I think I’m going to tell her I love her all the way up to the moon and back on earth.”

And this is how a boy quizzed his maternal grandmother...

“Can you answer a riddle, it’s quite funny.”

“Chalo, let me try.”

“Which name of a bank describes your mother?”

“What! I have no idea.”

“Easy — in Marathi you’d say, Ai chi ai chi ai (ICICI).

“Arre wah, that is clever.”

“No. Ai chi ai is the cleverest: that’s you Aaji.”

Up next is the sweetest, if strangest, compliment I’ve known a grandmother to get. It came in the form of two questions posed to me by my son — who returned from school one day to find my mother-in-law ill enough to have to be moved to a hospital.

“Mummy, you won’t feel bad if I ask you this?”

“Ask me what?”

“If she dies then will you mind if I cry as much at her funeral as I would if you died?”

I did a double take but read those feelings right. The very fulcrum of our family, his gentle, genial grandmum is a precious presence. Ever positive, she exudes a calm vibe which soothes any kind of disquiet swirling around her. Place these qualities in the middle of a home humming with hormonal teens and their menopausal mother, and you know why she makes the best kind of grandmother and mother-in-law.

Too good, touch wood, may her tribe increase.

Meher Marfatia is the author of 10 books for children and two for parents. She has mothered her own kids well past the terrible twos and almost past the troubled teens. Reach her at: mehermarfatia@gmail.com

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