That Special Thing

There are some things you experience in life which enrich you beyond your understanding. That feed your soul even when you think it is hungry and parched, only for you to of a sudden realise that you were only being forgetful — help is at hand. Even if you’ll have to search real hard for it.

Dadiji and Dadaji (my father’s parents) are a couple of such people, who coloured my life in ways it is difficult to put in words. Memories can be narrated, but what they do to ones heart and mind, and how, is a thread that gets fogged with every attempt at an explanation. But I am going to try it.

Dadiji with the new-born me.

They had seven grandsons from their five sons before Dadiji became desperate for a Dubey granddaughter — a girl to carry on her family’s name. She prayed for a girl throughout my mother’s pregnancy. Her prayers were answered. When I was born, needless to say, she rejoiced. And showed a figurative tongue to my mother, who was certain it’d be a boy. That is, however, where her overt expression of a wish fulfilled ended. Never again did she show through her actions or words any preference for any of her grandchildren. Not so my Dadaji. He very clearly showed his love for my brother, Shonu. A man of meagre requirements and a strict routine, he didn’t quite agree with celebrations and parties, but he did insist for a big third birthday party for Shonu. How people behave and change, how their expressions differ from time to time is such a mystery, is it not?

Our meetings with them were fixed for at least once a year, when we went to Jabalpur for summer or winter holidays. We’d first go to Rajnandgaon, where my Nanaji and Naniji (mother’s parents) lived and then go for a longer stay at Jabalpur. Dadaji decided to shift to Jabalpur in a huff. Though his roots were from Raipur, he vowed never to return to it because of the strange ways of the people there. He was one of the first from his community, perhaps the first, to go out of the country and spend time in England. The people around him weren’t interested in his achievements, but in the fact that he’d gone and maligned the sanctity of their society. Perhaps eaten meat. Even touched a white person. Perhaps he drank alcohol and smoked foreign cigarettes as well? Blasphemy! So they sort of ostracised him, sure that he’d come and apologise to the powers that be. Dadaji didn’t think such a people worth his time and life, so he decided to remain in Jabalpur after he retired.

The decision was the most trying for Dadiji. Even though she’s spent most of her married life outside of Raipur, she’d looked forward to returning back to her people. She loved gatherings, gaiety, food, fun. Well, Jabalpur wasn’t going to stop her from enjoying all of that! She had friends in Jabalpur, too. Dadaji didn’t have any money to make a house, though. A well-feared collector, he often neglected the fact that he would need a place to go to after his retirement. Spending money on property was just not his game. No, he wasn’t a miser. Only a little impractical. But Dadiji came to his (and her own) rescue. She got a house built with the jewellery she had. It got completed just in time to welcome them after Dadaji retired. This house is where many of my childhood memories wander.

Dadiji with my mother, brother and a cousin with his newest pet

She had diabetes ever since I can remember. Though it made her life a little less than comfortable, I don’t remember her complaining. What I do remember is her grumbling that everyone took the doctors too seriously and denied her her two favourites — mango pickle and rice. She got her way with rice somehow (that’s a different story for a different time), but the pickle was never much of a hit with her sons and daughters-in-law, who continued to prohibit her from eating it. But little did they know, she had a comrade-in-arms. Me. I’d sneak in after lunch or dinner to the pantry, fish out a few pieces from the huge pickle jar, wrap it in layers of paper after sufficiently removing the oil, and hand it over to her. I knew how she felt, because it was my favourite, too. What’s more, she was alert enough to remove the evidence from under her pillow before someone discovered it. I can still remember her cataracted eyes twinkling with joy whenever I succeeded in getting her the loot.

My reward was more time with her skin. Wasted musclesย  and vanished fat had left her with bags of skin in her upper arms. I could spend hours touching, squeezing, caressing the soft folds. And then moving my hand down to hers. Such a difference between the two! Hers was gnarled with time and hard labour. The skin pushed into the skeleton, embossing the green-blue veins. And yes, I could spend hours tracing the veins, trying to straighten her unrelenting fingers with my young, keen ones. Is there always a need for a reason for one to be fascinated with uncommon things? I don’t know, but I was fascinated without ever waiting to find out why. For years, I couldn’t bear to straighten my fingers as the hands joined for the school prayer. “But didi can’t do it, so how can I?” So mulish was I, raps from the PT master’s cane didn’t budge me, and the fingers promptly went back to being bent.

Dadaji and me. He has my favourite toy in his hand. But I probably have all eyes on my brother's birthday cake.

Dadiji wanted to marry me off soon as I turned thirteen. “But I won’t survive until when she grows of age! Get her married. I want to see her as a bride!” She’d try to reason with my parents. She knew she’d not have her way, but she tried. If my dreams of when I was thirteen were to be analysed, it’d become clear that I’d have supported her wish if anyone had bothered to ask me. I wanted to get married, dress up in beautiful sarees, wear vermilion. Like her, I didn’t think of the added baggage — a husband. “But you can always do the gauna (a child bride stays with parents until she becomes mature, then is sent to her husband — the event is called gauna) when she’s done her college!” Such wisdom. Or so I’d have thought then.

College was a time when I was busy wondering what I was doing anyway. Confused about future, boys, career, pimples and cellulite, I didn’t have time for anything less important. So, my letters to Dadaji became less frequent. He’d been alone for almost 4 years after Dadiji’s death, and had become more insistent about getting his letters. He still wrote back. He was nearing 96, his words on the paper were like determined prints by a magpie with inked feet. It took us minutes to decipher them, but we eventually did. This was a welcome project we were given at least thrice a month.

That day, he asked me on phone whether I’d written to him. I mumbled a guilty no and promised I’d write that day. He laughed. And said, “What’s the use now?” He died the next morning. His housekeeper said that that morning, he went out for his walk after weeks, came back and demanded a glass of milk. Joked with him the housekeeper and told him to make paranthas for breakfast. Paranthas? He’d not eaten them in years! But then there’s always some room for change, he said. Sated, he went to his room, lay down, and must’ve gone and met his Ram sometime in late morning.

I don’t remember how Dadiji died, and I am not interested in asking anyone. Was it at home, or in the hospital? Did she suffer? I don’t remember. What I do remember is that I immediately thought of how she would miss my wedding.

There are so many memories of them, so many ways they make me feel warm and cared for — even today. I suppose this is what you call enrichment.

I wish for an awareness of beings in people. I wish we noticed life more. How I wish I am able to write letters to my grandchildren when I am 96 without my written words turning into magpie footprints more than they already have with lack of use forced by a weak will and a stiffness caused by endless hours at the computer. How I wish my children and grandchildren are better than me in being patient with the limitations of age, that ill-mannered slurping of Bournvita milk because the lips are losing their grip, that frightening smell of old age. That they know the value of that glint of an eye, that slap on the thigh with sheer amusement, the love.

The picture on top is Dadiji, Dadaji with one of their great grandsons.

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52 thoughts on “That Special Thing”

  1. Hi,
    A beautiful post in memory of your Grandparents, and what lovely photos as well, it’s wonderful when we have photo’s to help us remember special moments in our lives, they certainly are to be cherished.

    1. Isn’t it, Mags?! I have great respect for photographs. Perhaps a little bit more than videos. Pictures somehow make the whole experience of memory-exploration more surreal.

  2. I wish for all the same things, Priya. You said it better than I could have. I wish for an awareness of my parents and where they are in their lives now. I wish for no regrets.

    1. I dread regrets related to loved ones, Jean. It’s such a scary place to be in, isn’t it? With almost an imperceptible frenzy, I try to mend things that might lead to that. Thankfully I have none regarding my grandparents mentioned here. It was pure love and the joy of taking a few liberties, knowing that they would be understood.

      It is difficult to understand old age and what it means unless you’re in it. May I suggest an article I read recently that directs the mind towards an almost impossible solution, but gives some hope nevertheless? http://belasbrightideas.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/the-heart-of-compassion/

  3. Dearest Priya, this is absolutely beautiful. I’ll refrain from pulling out various lines whch moved me, because there are so many. You say so much with one sentence, Priya. Amazing.
    I gasped when I read Dadaji died the following morning.

    You wish for these things, Priya – and something tells me your wishes will come true. Your awareness and heart will see to it. I’m certain.

    1. Thank you for this lovely message, Lenore. I smile when I read confidence in your words about my wishes being fulfilled. I shall remember this confidence. Thank you again.

  4. “That they know the value of that glint of an eye, that slap on the thigh with sheer amusement, the love.” I love this last line.After my grandparents died, I could see that glint, look, sparkle and look deep into my father, aunt and uncles’ eyes. I was so glad to have them and that look we exchanged coming from them. And I remember the unabashed “slap on” their “thigh” when we sat together. Wonderful tribute.

    1. It is amazing how much many people miss in the everyday human interactions around them. And how much of the unnecessary they carry along. If only we could all see the passing of “that glint”, we’d have more respect for each other and ourselves, Georgette.

  5. Priya, the world is changing so fast. We know your grandchildren won’t have the patience to read your magpie footprints. But, fortunately, they will be able to know you through your writing anyway….it just won’t be magpie prints. I wonder what they will be reading or how we will be communicating by then. We really can’t see around that corner. But through your lovely writing, there will always be a record of your generous soul with the quirky impatience that connects you with all humanity. And, you’ve also given them the gift of your memories of the Nanaji, Naniji, Dadaji, and Dadiji. A timeless connection.

    BTW: I love those terms. Are those official Indian words for grandparents or just the ones used in your own family? I love them because they sound warm and loving and also because they clarify so precisely the familial relationships.

    The images are great. My, what big eyes you have, my dear!

    1. Nana, Nani and Dada Dadi are the commonly used names for grandparents in the Hindi-speaking world, Linda. The use of “ji” is ones choice. It is like the “san” of Japanese, indicating a mark of respect. So, if someone addresses you as Linda ji in India, it means they really respect you. Hindi and all of the other Indian languages and dialects like to have distinguishable names for various relatives. The reason perhaps is that there has always been a close-knit group within the larger families. I like this system, too. It does show warmth and an effort to give a person a separate identity.

      My eyes are no longer that big, Linda! I presume it’s all that squinting against the sun that’s made them smaller, and perhaps deeper.

      As for the magpie prints, I hope earnestly that you’re right. I suppose that’s precisely why I am so drawn towards writing — to say what I can’t speak.

  6. Alas, we all have a little regret in our hearts, but that’s what life’s all about…the ups and downs, the highs and lows…yet we muster up the courage and forge on ahead, regardless.
    Priya, I enjoyed the vivid account of your life with Dadaji and Dadiji…may they rest in peace.

    1. Regrets can be gnawing, right, Mal? Thankfully, I can’t really say I have any regrets about my interaction with my grandparents. Except perhaps a little feeling of wanting to turn back time and give my Dadiji a big, tight hug every time I could. She was completely physical in her expression of love and affection — wanting to touch, caress, have us sit on her lap, hug. We were a lot like Dadaji, I guess. My brother and I. Until recently, I couldn’t bear myself to sit too close to people lest I touch them! Even today, it is rather difficult to hug someone or sit really close to someone while getting a picture clicked, for instance. my Dadiji would’ve wanted us to be a little more expressive that way.

  7. A beautiful and fascinating story. My mother’s birthday was yesterday. I called my 19 year old son to ask if he had called her. “No, I’m just going to call her tomorrow.” My heart sank for my mother. Then he said, “Just kidding, I called and we talked for an hour and twenty minutes. I’m going to call her more often; she knows a lot about current events and she’s really smart.” To write it here seems silly, but the moment filled me with joy for the very reasons you write about.

      1. I can feel that joy. And somehow, I can sense how it must’ve visited your mother as well. These so-called little things in life make so much difference. Surprisingly, such an interaction is usually considered to be a gift for the old grandparent or parent. What we often forget is that such phone calls and interactions are equally, if not more, enriching and value-building for the grandparent/child.

        You’ve taught him well, WW.

  8. Oh, Priya! This was such a gorgeous tribute to them. The pictures of your family are absolutely mesmerizing. The details of your grandparents–the words you chose, completely brought them to life. I have tears remembering my Gram. I always thought I was a mini version of her, we were so alike in every way. It’s incredible how we truly are a combination of all our relatives, in heart, mind and spirit. And in turn, we give those pieces of ourselves and our souls to our children and grandchildren. I’ve no doubt you will be a cherished mom and grandmother!

    1. This incredible society we’ve built around ourselves has been crucial in evolving the human beings from an animal thinking merely of survival of the fittest to an animal appreciating the growth of mind, body and soul that nature offers. We do sway into a different track every other century, but I have a feeling we get back to being nice. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Happy to know this post reminded you of Gram. They’re such cutie pies, aren’t they? And if you’re her mini version, your grand kids are gonna have fun!

  9. Oh Priya, again, you’ve made me cry. I think this post may be your most beautiful yet. It shows a side of you with such love, such candidness, I feel as if I know you much better.

    Perhaps because my own grandmother lived with my family from when I was born, until she died when I was 25, I relate to this on so many levels. My grandfather passed away before I was born, so I never knew him. But my Nana was like a second mother to me.

    I was so proud of Little Priya for sneaking her grandmother in those pickles!!! What a spirit you have, my friend. Something I wish I could emulate. I’m sad to say, that in those final years of my Nana’s life, I was one of the ones keeping things like salt and butter from her. She was so sick… on so many medications… and I don’t know what my motivations were, other than fear. My parents told me she’s no longer allowed those things. I can remember standing at the counter at my parents’ tiny kitchen, buttering some toast for my Nana with “fake” butter, when she’d demanded “real” butter. She sat not two feet from me at the table, and her eyes were hot on my back, but I tried to block her view, so she wouldn’t know what I was doing, and her arteries would unclog, her blood pressure would go down, if only she would be okay with these changes…

    You, my dear, had a much deeper sense of what it meant to be “alive.” I take much from this post.

    The part which struck me most, was when you talked about the extra skin on your grandmother’s arms. The soft folds… you described it in a way I’ve never heard before. What a beautiful tribute you’ve painted to a person so near and dear to you. No holds barred.

    You said, “How people behave and change, how their expressions differ from time to time is such a mystery, is it not?” Yes. But then, isn’t that the point of life? To grow and change? I believe, even through your post, I have grown from reading it. Thank you.

    1. What is fake butter? Coincidentally, it was also mentioned in a movie I was watching yesterday.

      Dadiji, or Didi as she was addressed by everyone, had a diabetic condition that stabilised and went bad in phases. When I stole the pickle for her, she was in the stable phase. I am not sure I’d have the heart to do the same when she was in the bad one. Or that she’d have the strength to ask for it. All the same, I agree that my actions were motivated by an intense fear of her dying before her time if she had to stop herself from having a bit of her wish fulfilled. I let my mother take top salt every now and then, or eat pickle despite her terrifyingly high blood pressure. Perhaps I am a fool. Perhaps a dreamer. Or a little of both. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Your actions, on the other hand, must’ve been motivated by the hope that your Nana didn’t have to visit the doctor so often if she stopped consuming things that harmed her body. That’s such a real motivation!

      I’ve grown a bit, too, Melissa. Writing is so giving, is it not? And then responses to the written word completes that one step of growth — so thank you!

  10. Absolutely stunning. You led me through a part of your life that i found entrancing and beautiful and sad and wonderful. Of course your granchildren will read your magpie scribbles, how could they not!! c

    1. Cecilia, I so much want to visit you often and read your thoughts and things about your idyllic life. More than you, I must apologise to myself for not being able to do it as often as I’d like to. Perhaps soon.

      If they’re able to read those scribbles, I am going to consider it a life well lived. Well, what the heck, I’ll do so anyway! Thank you for your belief!

  11. Priya your Dadiji wanted to marry you off at the age of thirteen. Really? It sounds interesting. I am 26 , and when my family tell me that with in one more year, i must get married. I just feel like they have gone mad or what. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really do not know, if they say me that to only tease me or they are serious. ๐Ÿ™‚
    On a serious note, It was a treat to read about your grand parents. They were simply wonderful people. Specially I got inspired by hearing your grand father. All your posts speak lot to me, as I belong to a family just like yours and may be we all go though the same circumstances in life. The only difference is that, I do not have words like you have to describe these memories. From a very young age I lost both my grand father (both my parents fathers), so love of a grand father is something I never experienced in life. So thank you for giving me a chance to experience that through this post.

    1. Ha! It is interesting indeed! And to think I would’ve agreed with her wish back then. Teenage is foolish, is it not? I am glad my parents had their heads screwed on right.

      That said, Dadiji never really intended for the marriage, I suspect. She just wanted to express her wish to see me as a bride. You know how elderly people are.

      Dadaji had an allure that couldn’t be ignored. There was something so intense and deep about him and his convictions, and yet something so refreshing about his ability to adapt to changing times as long as it didn’t do any intrinsic harm that I certainly feel lucky to have known him. To have descended from him.

      You write from your heart, Arindam. If you continue to do that, you will soon find that you have words and expressions to write your memories just the way you feel them. Keep writing. And feeling.

  12. “I wish for an awareness of beings in people. I wish we noticed life more.”

    Amen to your wishes, Priya.. for all of us.

    I lost the last of the four of my grandparents last year. It makes me appreciate more this beautiful way for you to remember your’s. Oh, on so many levels….

    ….your sneaking in aam ka aachar for your dadiji :), your taking raps for bent fingers because your ‘didi’ couldn’t straighten her’s, your dadaji being the collector of jabalpur, his going to England at a time when it literally meant going ‘saat samundar paar’, the unwritten letter, the final walk & paranthas, the last phone call the day before….

    ‘Enrichment’ – you have encapsulated it here for yourself, your children and grandchildren. Oh, you are so blessed.

    1. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the way you’ve listed those things from the post. Like you really understand what it would’ve been like. Thank you.

      I do wish we are all able to gift enrichment to our families. It’d be so nice and fulfilling. Sometimes, it’s not in our hands to control the flow of this richness. What does one do, then? We do find the answer soon enough, I am sure.

      Amen, indeed.

  13. This post is written around the very spiral of life, looked at in the most beautiful ways. I’m sure you brought as much joy to your grandparents as they obviously gave to you. And once again, you’ve provided us with another example of how our common humanity crosses all borders and cultural differences. I thought about my own grandmother as I read every word. Thank you for another glimpse into your life, Priya, and life in general.

    P.S. Does your husband know that he’s “added baggage”?

    1. Charles, thank you. I feel privileged every time you take out time to read here. I know you might feel impatient with my horribly polite ways, but I had to say it nevertheless.

      Isn’t it a wonderful gift to be able appreciate just how alike we are? I’ve been thinking about a program I saw yesterday. It’s a reality show called Come Dine With Me. British. Four amateurs take part in every episode to invite the other participants to their homes to dine. They mark each other on the basis of food, hosting, the general ambiance. Yesterday’s episode had a woman of Indian origin amongst the participants. She went to the first contestant’s house, discovered that the salmon he’d served was too bland for her taste, so asked him if he had any chilli sauce. He didn’t. So she said, “Never mind, I’ve brought my own bottle.” She promptly took it out and poured some on her plate, saying there was no point in struggling through the food and then leave it uneaten on the plate. The host was miffed (and rightly so, I’d say). “Ignorant fool,” he called her. While she didn’t really think she had done any harm to his sentiments; that she was just being honest.

      I’ve been wondering at both their actions and responses. He continued to be disapproving of her throughout, and she continued to try to tell him she meant no slight. My point is, if she’d gone for a dinner out (it was just one meal, for heaven’s sake), she could’ve tried to appreciate his effort. And, on the other hand, he could’ve tried to understand from her perspective just what bland salmon would mean to a person who puts ten kinds of spices in hers. He would’ve hated a very spice curry and found it difficult to eat it! I am rambling, without actually succeeding in what I really want to say. Anyway, they danced to Bollywood songs, and made up eventually. All that ends well is acceptable. No?

      P.S. Oh but shhh! We’re currently in the “Ooh, you’re such a dahhling” phase.

  14. Oh, this is fabulous. I enlarged each picture! And combed each one for detail – I spied Dadi’s bare toes. And muscular arms. You were a gorgeous child, Priya, and that beauty has not faded…whether the eyes are as enormous now or not! (Your response to a comment.) Your mother was exotic! Phew.

    (I have a strong bias for the beauty of Indian people. I suspect most people in the world do!)

    I was born when my parents were 40 and missed out on grandparents. Apparently I adored my Dada, but I don’t remember him. He died before Dadi who went into a home for seniors in a location closer to her daughters. I remember seeing her once. My Nani died when my mother was 16 and nana was an executive on the railway who never approved of my mother wanting an education. Imagine that…they never had a good relationship because he drank to excess and as an older daughter, my mom had to be fiercely protective of her younger siblings.

    Because of growing up with older parents, I adore elderly people – their wisdom, their patience, their manners, their breadth and depth. I was in my glory managing the Senior’s Residence, but every death felt like a loss in my family.

    Now, I’ve befriended an elder on my street who still lives alone in her late 80s. She tolerates a grandson’s visit for a while, but they get under each other’s skin so take frequent breaks. She really prefers to be by herself, she openly admits. She’s originally from Ireland and her husband was a doctor. I have some Irish blood from my father’s side so Ruth and I hoot and howl with laughter over many human foibles – as the Irish are wont to do!

    Oh no…look at the length of this. Apologies, my friend. But your post touched me so!

    Oh, but I have to say one more thing…in Hindi, grandparents can be both the dad and nan names when they have daughters and sons. Now that’s keeping things straight! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Isn’t that interesting?! A parent with at least one son and one daughter can be both Dada/Dadi or a Nana/Nani. Wouldn’t have thought of it that way.

      Ruth and you must have such a good time. I have great respect for the elderly who not only want to be independent, but also keep their minds and bodies strong enough to enable them to be routinely independent as well. I think it is a remarkable achievement. If you think it is appropriate, do give Ruth a nice flying kiss from me the next time you speak with her.

      Was it good that this post reminded you of your grandparents? I hope it filled you up with some warmth, the way it was intended to.

      Working in a senior’s residence must be such an enlightening, humbling, difficult experience, Amy. I can’t begin to imagine the kind of education it must’ve given you!

  15. What a heartwarming and loving tribute to your grandparents Priya…one that resonates with most of us too… It got me thinking of my Dada-ji and Dadi-jan…I spent some wonderful holidays with them in Sialkot and the unbridled love and joy of those times are a most comforting memory…never saw my Nana….but Nani-jan was love and gentleness personified…thank you for helping bring back these joyous memories…
    Your interaction with and memories of your grandparents are a joy to read about and bring a huge smile to the face and heart….Stay blessed Priya…

    1. How happy I am to know that this post brought back the happy memories of your time spent with your own Dada and Dadi jan and Nani jan. They have a way of staying in the most special corners of our hearts, don’t they?

      Have a beautiful day, Shama.

  16. This is a post that must be read slowly and more than once. I’ve come back here several times [good for your stats, so I’m not apologizing…] to read and savor your oh so beautiful tribute to your grandparents – no correction – your Dadaji and Dadiji.

    I love it all Priya – the photos, the stories, the new Hindi words. You’ve captured so much in this post that – as you can see from the comments – I’m not the only one who feels emotional after reading it. Thank you.

    I was fascinated to read the paragraph about your Dadaji being ostracized from his village because he’d gone to England. My goodness!

    I never met my Dadaji, but when I was 17, I met my Dadiji, though sadly it was only for a brief week. In spite of language difficulties it was apparent how much pleasure it gave her to finally meet me – perhaps because I looked like her…. Reading this post makes me realize what a special relationship it could’ve been. I too would’ve been the spunky kid sneaking mango pickle or candies to my Didi.

    I’ve eaten Indian mango pickle because my Nani was fond of it so I know it’s very oily and I think has turmeric in it, and I have no idea how it didn’t stain your clothes and give you away when you sneaked pieces?

    1. You would’ve sneaked the pickle and candies, too?! Lovely. I could give you a good demonstration on how to get rid of the unnecessary oil, so that it doesn’t seep out of the various layers of paper. I’ve done it thousand times — for Didi and for myself. It was easier for my own stash because I didn’t quite enjoy the masala all that much, so I washed off the oil and masala and stored the mango pieces (and never forgot to clean out the kitchen sink). For her, I blotted out the oil (a clean piece of cotton is best) and left it out for sometime, a few minutes, before blotting out some more. A double, triple wrap of good, thick paper (I used something we call chart paper. I think it’s called card paper in the US) makes it good enough for keeping under the pillow — no oil, no turmeric, no smell. Yippie!

      Raipur is hardly a village. It used to be what we call a kasba (bigger than a village, smaller than a town). But the traditions and belief there were and in some cases still are parochial. Though going and living abroad and drinking and smoking and touching white people is not a problem anymore! Phew. It is an interesting study, however, to see that communities tend to look at “outsiders” with suspicion. The only difference between then and now is that people were more passionate about displaying that suspicion. These days they just back-stab. What do you think?

      Tell me, Rosie, why was there a language problem between Dadiji and you?

      1. You kept the mango pickle under the pillow? wow you really knew how to blot it well.

        These days people post anything they know about you on the internet and it only takes a few minutes for millions of people to know about it. To me that’s the worst kind of back stabbing.

        My Dadiji spoke Hebrew (my father was born in Israel) with only a few words of English.

        1. Hebrew! The other language I’ve wanted to learn! I have a lot of respect for the people from Israel.

          I don’t know what you mean about people writing about you on the internet. Do you mean those celebrity gossip columns? If so, then yes, I agree.

          Aw, Rosie. Gimme a chance to show you just how good I am at blotting oil!

  17. But when you re-run it through your memories in this fashion โ€“ and through the filtre of affection โ€“ย  it would seem that you might succeed in slowing it down โ€“ selectively.

    In Sinhalese Priya means ‘dear’!

    I look forward to coming here again.

    1. How very well put! Thank you.

      Priya means ‘dear’ or ‘beloved’ in Hindi as well. I guess I am lucky!

      And I look forward to meeting you more, TIB.

  18. Memories are a writer’s treasure trove – but you’re right, words can never quite do them justice. Though yours have come awfully close, Priya. I think your grandmother would consider them a most worthy tribute.

  19. Thank you for this post, Priya, which I have come to late as usual. It has reconnected me – after days of being immersed in non-human contact – with the world of people one cares about. I lose sight of that quite often these days, getting too engrossed in art and internet and myself.

    I’ve been thinking of my mother more recently, and with her memory comes the memory of her mother. I didn’t know her father – he died a year before I was born. My maternal grandmother was a lovely woman, very warm but didn’t have much in the way of English (she was originally from Rumania) so communication was generally by sign language and demonstration. Nevertheless I learnt early lessons of humility and consideration for nature from her.

    The photos of your grandparents are beautiful.

    What I most particularly like is your description of your Dadiji’s skin and how you would compare your hands to here. As I get older and my skin loses its tone and gains some wrinkles (I’m being sparing with the ‘some’ here!) I am constantly feeling and prodding it and remembering how I’ve watched as age has changed me. I marvel at the changes but know – as you do about your grandparents – that within the wrinkles and the hanging skin, the person inside remains unchanges. Yours were beautiful inside and out, and I’m sure even though they have passed you will continue to treasure them.

    As an aside: is mango pickle the same as mango chutney? I eat way too much mango chutney. Amongst other things (including having it with a full meal) I have been known to have it in a cheese sandwich first thing in the morning…!

    1. Your message oozes warmth, Val. Thank you.

      It is amazing how some things don’t need a language to communicate. Take for instance your interaction with your mother’s mother. All that you’ve learnt from her is so independent of words, is it not? I find that a small miracle in itself! Much like the persona we emit — in spite of aging, wrinkles, and dentures. You are a wonderful woman and all of these wrinkles only add to the wonder of all that you’ve created in your lifetime, in your unique way. I hope you will always remember that.

      Mango chutney! Well, it’s different from the pickle. The chutney usually has mango pulp or peeled mango pieces that have been cooked until they’re pulpy. Pickles usually have dices of mango — with the peel and the hard shell of the pit. Sometimes they’re grated as well, but they get a completely different name. It’s sort of complicated. Because mango is more or less a religion matched only by cricket! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. My brother always says about the importance of the reverence to the ancestors. I think he talks about it less as a psychologist, more as a person who is very attached to our family โ€“ but in both ways such respect is true. I couldnโ€™t meet my grandfathers โ€“ my โ€œDadajiโ€ (how interesting are these names!) had gone before I was born, my โ€œNanajiโ€ died when I was only a baby. I have the privilege of having my grandmothers. I can feel their strength, the incredible power of their feminine presence in our family. And I’m also grateful for it.
    I love your tribute, and the photos (mainly the first one) are awesome.
    Iโ€™m sure your prayers will come true!

    1. It is so beautiful to still have your grandmothers and have them interact with your children, Marusia! Such a privilege. And by the sound of it, you acknowledge the importance. How very perfect!

      Your brother is a wise man.

      Thank you for the kind words, Marusia. They mean much.

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