They are there with me...

They are there with me...

A Story by Candle in the wind
"

My tribute to my beloved grandparents(maternal)...

"

 

I had anticipated it, yet when the phone call came my vision got blurred by uncontrollable tears. I just rushed off to the nursing home. On the way it all kept coming back like a kaleidoscope.
 
She was a small fair exquisitely beautiful woman, large kind eyes, perfectly formed fingers and feet, simple, fragrant and fresh, always clad in a white sari with borders, shell framed spectacles, hair tied in a bun or left open after a bath. She was straight spoken, firm and inordinately loving.  She was deft at her household chores, her needle work and cooking. She had such impeccable handwriting and did everything with such neat precision. She was a strict disciplinarian and would put up with no nonsense and yet she pampered me, indulged me. I loved her affectionate rebukes. Her entire world revolved around her family and her prayer room. I remember sneaking in to her house when it was too late to return home after romping around with my friends. Each time she gave me an ultimatum that I would be barred entry if I was late again. Each time I entered with equal confidence that I would find my bed ready and a warm meal waiting for me. She would come trying to look as disapproving as possible and warn me not to raise my voice as I would wake up my ‘Dadu’ ( grandpa)Then her concern would overtake her when I said   “Didu( grandma) , I am hungry.” She would sit by my side as I ate the crisp parathas she made, give me a change of clothes, tie my hair before I slept. At night if I coughed too much or tossed and turned due to the itch in my throat, I would suddenly feel soothing fingers applying a balm on my neck and chest and I would doze off with a smile.
 
In the morning when I woke up Dadu would be back from his morning walk. I would be lazing around in bed watching his tall straight frame getting morning tea ready while Didu had her wash. He was lean yet not frail, bespectacled, neat back brushed hair. He was always impeccably dressed whether it was in formals or a crisp white Punjabi and dhoti. He had been a revered academician all his life and now after retirement had his day neatly slotted. Early rising, morning walk, going to the market then a cup of tea in the verandah while relaxing a bit with Didu, then gardening, odd bits of self taught carpentry, paperwork, a short afternoon siesta, evening tea, watching TV or doing some paper checking or paper setting for the university on special request……I never perceived him as an old man. He had respectable seniority and quiet dignity. The aroma of piping hot malpoas( sweet delicacies) would waft into my nostrils making me jump out of bed to demand my share and my cup of tea. He always had a delicious assortment of biscuits and cookies stacked up in a blue box on top of his cupboard. As a child he would warn me not to pilfer them. As soon as he dozed off in the afternoon I would do just that as I knew that they were meant for me. When he woke up I would hear him complain. Didu would say “as if it was meant for any other purpose”. He would always scold me if I peeped into his neatly arranged cupboard and yet hold it enticingly ajar so that I would peep and throw tantrums to let me use some of his deo sprays and perfumes. I would have mock fights with him to let me use his transistor, and if he didn’t relent I would resort to Didu and she would make him. This man who people found difficult to approach actually ironed my clothes when I was in a hurryto leave.He covered up his embarassment gruffly saying that he thought I was clumsy enough to step out in crumpled clothes so he didn't take a chance.He stitched covers for quilts and made  shopping bags using Didu's sewing machine and didn't feel lesser as a man for doing such "feminine" chores. They would take me out for treats and they would give me pocket money whenever I was broke. When he was going out then he would hover around waiting for me to tease him on his attention to detail in grooming.
 
When my sister and I were very young,my dad got posted in Madras which is called Chennai now. We lived in a huge bungalow there and had a great life. Right through the year however all of us would look forward to their visit. Their suitcase would inevitably be filled with gifts and goodies for us. I remember as a child we had gone to visit the Annadurai Memorial which was a huge architectural wonder in Madras on the periphery of Marina beach. Dadu and Didu were with us. I was a wispy day dreaming child. There were very beautiful artificial fountains there and I was mesmerized by the light dancing along with the spray of water. I don’t know when I lost sight of my family and wandered off absent mindedly behind another group. Suddenly I was jolted back to the reality by some alien voices. I couldn’t see or hear my people any more and I wasn’t sure where I was. I was choking with fear and anxiety. Suddenly it occurred to me that trying to find them here was futile. I decided that I would get out and cross the road and go and wait near our car. I stood near the huge gate which was shaped liked elephant tusks. I looked with dismay at the wide road with incessant traffic whizzing past wondering how I could cross. Suddenly I was lifted up by firm hands and a cry of “there you are!” and before long, my Dadu was holding me. It was such a relief. I can still relive that sensation of being lifted into safety. He had anticipated my move and he found me.
 
My sister was down with typhoid during one of their visits to Chennai and Didu was there by her side always. My mother was so relieved to have her mother by her side while looking after her child. Didu would give her spongebaths, tell her stories, feed her, soothingly caress her, and hold her close. My sister wouldn’t let her move any where. I would look wistfully and wish I were ill as well. I remember when I had traveled with them on a vacation I was afflicted with measles. She looked after me and nursed me untiringly. It’s as though she had a healing touch.
 
Whenever it was time for them to return to Calcutta, my sister and I would be crest fallen...no more coming back from school and being with Didu and Dadu and enjoying bed time stories, special gifts, treats outings and goodies.We would jointly start praying that they miss their train and once it actually happened! We saw them driving back in through our gate much to our delight and thus our euphoria got extended. 
 
Her puja (prayer) room was so quaintly beautiful. It was always filled with the fragrance of incense and sandalwood and delicious prasad (offering to her deity).She would sit there and do her elaborate puja and then come out looking even more divine. Dadu would use his carpentry skills and creativity to embellish her little sanctuary. I would wait eagerly for the Prasad and then partake of her muri (puffed rice) mixed with cucumber which was her breakfast. Then she would fish out her red dot pen and her big exercise copy where she diligently filled the page writing the name of her lord, which was her way of chanting it for the well being of her loved ones.
 
They celebrated their golden anniversary and we were overjoyed to be part of the festivities.Their love and companionship,their mutual interdependence was something to be celebrated.One could never imagine one without the other.He doted on her and she adored him.They lived so simply , had such a deep core of sprituality,integrity and innate self respect. Their love was unconditional and they gave of themselves boundlessly.Wonder if we can ever carve such a niche in the hearts of our future generation?
 
 After that my wedding date was fixed up and they were so excited. She was getting my wedding trousseau and jewellery and he was there to fulfill each of her whims for her first grandchild’s wedding. He had decided on what to wear for each occasion and had new dentures made. Then the first thunder struck. A sty next to his brow had been nagging him and he had it operated as it was painful. It turned out to be a sleeping lion. He didn’t get the stitches removed so that he could attend my wedding. Then the report came…it was malignant. I wasn’t told anything. He said he was going to Mumbai for a thorough check-up and I didn’t suspect anything. I went to Puri for my honey moon and he didn’t want to spoil it and Didu was so cheerful with me. She just asked me to pray for him at the famous Jagannath temple there. Dadu said  “don’t forget to buy me a gamcha (cotton hand woven towel) from Puri as it’s my favorite". I had these sent by courier to Mumbai. Didu wrote back saying there were tears in his eyes the day he received the parcel.
 
When he came back from Mumbai his face was blackened by radiation. It’s then that I came to know. I hugged him and he felt frail. He was so conscious of his scar. He told me “have you come to see your grandfather’s ghost?” I wept and he relented immediately. I said a mere scar can’t mar my dear dadu. For the first time I saw his eyes moisten. Then the next few months were fine. The scars went off and the treatment continued and he started on his old routine and didn’t even miss buying bindis (felt dots to adorn the fore head) and provisions for his beloved wife. He was overjoyed to hear that I was going to have a baby. Then in a span of three days of sudden galloping deterioration he was gone. This was the first time I was facing death at such close quarters and I was shattered.
As he lay there I stared at him in disbelief. They told me he was no more. He was clad in white dhoti and punjabi. His long artistic fingers and perfectly shaped nails reminded me of the reassuring grasp with which he held my hand. My didu sat there holding me. She did not express her grief and her overriding concern was to protect me from the shock and hold me in comfort.
 
Henceforth since May 9th 1992 she embodied both for us and lived for us so that we would be happy and not feel deprived of the pampering and love.My daughter was born and she was overjoyed to see her first great grandchild.There was curfew in the city then due to an unfortunate incident but she braved all odds to come and see my baby along with a delightful assortment of titbits for me which she had made.She saw my siblings getting married and she rejoiced when their children were born.Her benign presence enhanced the joy in all family celebrations.
 
 It was in November 2006 that she was suddenly diagnosed with brain tumor and then onwards it was a steep decline. Even in November 2007 she came to stay with my Mom and aunt, and was so happy to be with all of us. By this time she was bed ridden. On 31st December 2007 she slipped into a coma. The end came on 24th Jan 2008.The day before I had gone to see her at the nursing home and seen her enmeshed with tubes and pipes and her delicate hands bruised by the repeated intravenous drips and injections. I prayed that she may be freed from this torture and gain eternal peace and retain her innate dignity as she never wanted to live like this being lesser than herself and dependent on others.She had never wanted a compromised life for dadu either and was willing to let him go inspite of her pain instead of seeing him suffer. I couldn’t imagine myself doing this. Next day she was gone as if in answer to my prayers.
 
Before I knew I was at the nursing home and was trembling as I climbed the stairs. When I entered and saw her she looked as beautiful as ever and at peace with a slight smile on her lips. We took her home. The last rites would be performed in the morning and I sat by her all night. She lay in the same place where dadu lay for the last time and the only difference was that time she was there to hold me and this time she wouldn’t wake up again.
 
I went with her till the end and then came back with these two precious people now together again in my heart and my memories. I will never lose them as they will be with me always… but I wish I could see them again and sit between them or clasp their hands or hug them as I used to.
 
 

© 2008 Candle in the wind


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Anything hearfelt is beautiful...whether you mean it to be or not...

Every word in the story has been wrung out of your heart...it is full of pain, and yet a sense of calm and peace...

Isn't it said that pain is the source of all pleasure? Well...whether it be so or not...this pain I see and feel in your piece evokes a sense of calm at the end...somthing that says that the pain was worth it!

I'm sure your Didu and Dadu are always watching over you...and will always be there, to hold you in strong hands whenever you seem to have lost yourself!

The only apt reaction to this piece would be a bout of silent tears, that came to me unknowingly as I read your piece.

Awesome one ma'am...keep up the good work!

May God Bless your Didu and Dadu, and keep them in Eternal Heaven.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Such an endearing write, Raj. Your tribute to your grandparents is absolutely beautiful. They sound like "dream grandparents" that most would pine for. As always, I love the avid detail with which you write each of your pieces. Very well done, friend. :-)

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

wow this was a great peace about your family i am glad that you shared this with me...this is my favorite part...


I went with her till the end and then came back with these two precious people now together again in my heart and my memories. I will never lose them as they will be with me always� but I wish I could see them again and sit between them or clasp their hands or hug them as I used to.



this is heartfelt and beautiful hope to see more...

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This was a priceless tribute to our family and ancestors that have guided us and stood by our side. You have given a new light to those that were so reveared by you and your family. I feeling the warmth and the love that that these lines brought forth in oceans of emotional sentiment.

They teach us, the hold us, they watchover us even in the afterlife.
Thanks you for sharing this.
It's a beautiful story!

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

u made me cry..... reminded me of my grand parents.....

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a beautiful story! Well-written.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Wow, I feel as though I knew them. Your descriptions of the two of them are so potent. Thank you for sharing this beautiful slice of Indian family life.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

It is so different and so pleasing actually to read about India in here even though I have been living in India all through my life! I felt all the famaliar terms right through the stories such as "Malpoa", "Prasad", "Punjabi", "Dhoti", etc. I felt that I was walking through the story, seeing the things as they were, but no one in the story could see me.

Very well described. I found out about your strong vocabulary by the way you have used strong words all over the story.

The story istelf was very touching, and thanks for sending it to me. ~KA~

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Not a dry eye to be found after reading this story, I'll bet. Not here, anyway. This is so touching...you conveyed so well your love for your Didu and Dadu. This is just beautiful....another wonderful, well-written story by you. Great work.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I'm teary 'sob' this is heartbreakingly beautiful Raj...What a woman!!! Three cheers for them both and thumbs up for your tribute to them. The love you had from them will never fade from your memory and I'm pleased that you have the comfort of faith in the afterlife as this will get you through it all.
I sincerely loved this.
Helen :-)

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I feel numb to the core...my fingers are just not efficient enough to review this inordinately beautiful tribute.
Reading this i can reckon the immense pain that you must have felt within after you lost them. But the people you talk about here are in all senses immortal, for you have made them so with your love for them.

As you unfurled the story i felt as if i was all along there, peeping from behind the curtains of the stage.

I don't know how to express this, but i have loved it. The pain seemed to transcend to me and i felt choked.



Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 15, 2008
Last Updated on April 18, 2008

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Candle in the wind
Candle in the wind

Calcutta, India



About
Flickering and blazing,not yet blown out in the wind... the flame has to sustain itself when the rains set in... Beyond norms and overrated sanity " We look before and after And pine for what i.. more..

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