Dear Nanaji (Grandpa),
When I look back at the years gone by and think of all the important people who have made a difference in my life, the one face that always brings a smile to my lips is yours. You are no longer with us, but I feel your presence with me all the time. Especially at those times when I feel I really need your blessings. I know, perhaps you may say how selfish of me. But then, you have been there for me whenever I needed your support, so it’s very natural to think of you. Being your first-born grandchild I have been lucky not to share your affection and love with anyone for a long time. You always made me feel super special. I love the nick names you have given me – ‘Khaata Peeta’ (one who keeps eating always), ‘Archanva’ (a twisted form of Archana sprinkled with the lovely UP dialect), ‘Kaleje ka Tukda’ (blue-eyed girl). Everyone at home still calls me by these names.
You know nanaji, I was thinking of some of the special memories with you and our family together, those which are the most cherished ones for me. I thought I should pen them down right now; so I can refer to these little notes when I grow old and my memory fades. You always said that I have a long life, so when I become an old grandma, my memory fails and my eyesight gives way, I will make my grandchildren read this letter out to me; reminisce all those special moments and smile, like I am smiling now.
Do you remember why you gave me the nickname ‘Khaata Peeta’? You and naniji used to love to feed me mangoes during the season. Mango being my favourite fruit since the age of 1 – 2 perhaps, I would feast on them and gobble up so many at one go. I still can’t fathom how I used to eat so many mangoes, but I guess it was the love with which you fed me that made me eat non-stop. I miss you a lot more every mango season and ensure that I eat as many mangoes that I can, so as to make you smile up there!
One of my favourite recollections is of that day when I gave you a cup of tea. You already had a paunch by then and I remarked, ‘Oh god nanaji, just look at your tummy!”, and you laughed aloud and said that you are ‘growing’ it such that one day I can place the tea-cup on your tummy instead of the table. That was such a hilarious statement. You were such a witty person and I am glad that wit rubbed off on me a bit too.
Whenever I would go back home from your house, you always gave me a one rupee note. I would reach home and put it in my piggy bank immediately. I so looked forward to those one rupee notes and infact all the presents that you got for me from all your travels and otherwise. You never came back empty handed and got me a gift always. I can’t tell you how much every little gift meant to me and still does. Ofcourse, I cannot forget all our travels together. Children who have never lived with their grandparents will never know what it is to live and travel with their grandparents. That’s a lovely part of life that no one should miss. I looked forward to all my holidays so that I could spend my vacation with you and travel during the holidays. Every single vacation we went on together is a fond memory and I could write volumes on each one. Thank god for all the photos that we clicked, they have captured all our wonderful moments.
Oh god, talking about travel reminded me of that one time when you took all of us for a dip in the Ganges. I was so scared and warned you not to take me in the waters for a ‘dubki’. You didn’t relent and the moment you put me inside the water, I bit your navel as that part seemed closest to my teeth, and you screamed. I don’t know whether to call that incident a blasphemy or a joke, but it is something no one in the whole family can ever forget. Ofcourse, when I think of it now, I laugh like crazy.
You remember nanaji, how you had the habit of breaking into a song suddenly when all of us would be together and perhaps sometimes be discussing something important. You would catch all of us unawares; first start singing and then when all of us joined in, you would get up all of a sudden and start dancing. Your favourite step – the freestyle Amitabh Bachchan step is our all-time favourite. I think you could have run a training class on ‘Extempore and its benefits’, isn’t it?
We would take our handsome Alsatian – Jimmy, for walks in the evening. There were times when Jimmy, you and I would also go to the club together and play cards. Ofcourse you played while Jimmy got forty winks and I played the hand on your behalf. Those were real fun times, especially when we won. How we would reach home and dance and show-off to everyone.There are countless fun moments, and one very painful memory: my unsent letter to grandpa with love #unsentletters Click To Tweet
There are countless fun moments that I can think of but nanaji the one painful memory that I will regret all my life is the day before you passed away. You were in the hospital and mom and I couldn’t go to see you. We had a function to attend and thought we’d go see you the next day. Little did we know that there would be no next day after all and we were never going to see you smile ever again… I can’t seem to forgive myself for that big mistake we made. I learnt two big lessons of life with your death – time and tide wait for no man, and do what you can today lest you regret tomorrow. We were grief stricken when we reached the hospital, and to see you lying on that bed – lifeless was excruciating. I couldn’t imagine it was the same lively, cheerful, exuberant man who was my grandfather, and now no more. It is for this very reason that I decided to pay my last respect to you and accompany you on your final journey before we bade the final goodbye, much against everybody’s wishes. They said that women do not go to the cemetery, but I didn’t listen to anyone. I just thought I owed you that much and I had to be there for you, just like you were there for me always. And being there, seeing you go after all the rituals brought me some peace.
As I end this letter, I want to thank you for being my pillar of strength and encouraging me in every little step, holding my finger always lest I fell down, for the unconditional love you showered on me and for the life-lessons you taught me.
Until we meet again in that abode where you live now…
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