There is never a dull day when there are kids in the house. There’s always some surprise waiting around the corner. But I’d never encountered any surprises in the kitchen. It’s not a place they frequent unless they are hungry. But with the two younger grandkids, when they were 2 yrs and 3++, I’ve had some lovely discoveries. While we were hunting high and low for some “lost” things upstairs in the bedrooms, family room, and even the dining room, the ‘lost ones’ were up to mischief in the kitchen!
This is what I love about photographs. They dredge up memories and it’s lovely to relive those moments. And if the pics remind you of things like this, it’s so wonderful.
We searched high and low for Myra’s “Bunny bedroom shoes.” We didn’t find them and neither could she. Needless to say, she was quite upset. The next day, I found them cozy and snug on one of the shelves in the (everyday) crockery cupboard. She had no memory of putting it there herself. So we had to agree with her version of how they landed up hobnobbing with the china plates and bowls. “I think they were lost and walked into the cupboard by mistake.”
And another day, I walked into the kitchen to see a little glove reaching for an orange. Keen to hear the owner’s explanation, I asked her how it got there or was she trying to reach the oranges, which were out of her reach, using a glove.
“No. Not me Dadi,” she quipped, “it is Zara’s glove! See!”
“I see it, baby. It’s not you at all,” I agreed.
“I told you. Not me,” she beamed.
I enjoyed all five of my little ones to the hilt. And as time passes, the conversations change, and other things draw their time and attention.
They are grown since then… There’s a pre-teen, three eight-year-olds, and the littlest is just five. The conversations have changed. But the love, happiness, and caring just keep growing. They add so much joy and laughter to my days.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs- 17:22
“Overly serious but working on it.”
Oh no, that’s not me! I just read how someone has described herself in her Bio. It made me wonder how someone could be so serious that to laugh and lighten up… get a bit of humor…was something they had to “work on.”
I wouldn’t be able to go through the day without laughter. There is always something that brings it on. A memory, a fumble or silly mistake with hilarious results; a joke, sight or sound, a conversation. Alone or with people, there are so many reasons why I laugh. I am amused by many things. I’m not talking about making fun of someone or ridiculing someone or something… not that kind of laughter. I’m speaking about a pure sense of humor. I even laugh at myself! I do some really funny, silly things and I enjoy a good laugh after.
Some days, I find humor that’s gentle, quiet, and subtle. And other days it could be – ironic, characteristic, delightful, playful, or then, just on point.
On a hunt for some pics to use for an article, I came across some interesting ones. One of an eagle. I saved it. Then I came across one with birds sitting on a wire. I saved it. And then there was one of a bird perched on the head of a statute. I saved that one too. I had no clue what I was going to do with these pics. None of these suited the article! But as I looked at them, subtitles popped into my head. And the article I had planned to write took the back seat as the pictures gave me prompts that reflected my thoughts on myself with a huge dollop of humor. Not the uproarious kind. The on-point kind.
Some days I wake up feeling on top of the world raring to go.
I’m a David, confident of knocking out Goliath!
I’m an eagle, soaring above the earth, just beneath the clouds…the lord of all I survey.
And I step out and meet the hustle and bustle of a typical weekday. I jostle or get jostled in the crowded streets by other ‘Davids’ also headed to face their goliaths.
I am outnumbered.
I feel weighed down and harried.
I feel the gall rising.
My breath quickens, my nostrils flare as my breathing accelerates.
And then… I spread my wings and rise… rise…leaving the flood of human traffic overflowing the streets below.
I leave the flock of pigeons behind. I am Eagle!
“Don’t be afraid of being outnumbered. Eagles fly alone. Pigeons flock together.”
And then, some days, I am the pigeon… preferring to do what my flock does. Go where my flock goes.
And other days, I am the statue! Low in drive, energy, aimless, cemented. And my get up and go has already got up and gone! I’m stuck. Blank. No joy. No sorrow. Everything’s a no-go.
“Some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue!”
~J Andrew Taylor
And then I read something that perks me up with a dollop of humor. One can’t stay down in the dumps after a good laugh! Humor is the best medicine. I got this as a forwarded message on WhatsApp.
Now, I better get out of here. Hunger and humor aren’t the best of friends. It’s not going to be very funny if the lunch is served at tea time!! And humor doesn’t work with ‘hangry’ 8-year-olds!
I’ve noticed, in particular, during the lockdown days, how people, who weren’t employed in any job (so no WFH) were more often on the phone calling or face timing with friends or relatives. It’s not that they weren’t doing it before, but during these days they seemed to be desperately in need to chat. I would wonder how they could keep chatting almost every day for hours. And I wondered what they talked about. And then it struck me that it was a psychological reaction. The lockdown distanced us physically. And that created a false sense of emotional distancing as well. So facetime calls and phone calls picked up to belie the false sense of being cut off from family and friends.
I’m not much of a phone person and as such, I don’t get any calls unless there’s something – some news or necessary information – that has to be conveyed to me directly. I rarely call someone just because I want to chat or someone wants to chat with me. Some have tried calling me to ‘pass time’ as they call it, but either I would be occupied with something and not pick the call or then I’d be brief, and after finding there wasn’t anything important or urgent about the call, I’d curtail the chitchat.
If at all I connect, it is via WhatsApp. And that is always a back and forth short messaging. I get to know what’s happening at their end and that all is well. They get to know that we are well. Videos allow me to see activities, conveniently at my time, without me getting stuck in one spot. Barring one friend, I’ve not had phone conversations with anyone, friends or relatives, that lasted any great length of time! And even with her, we’re not on the phone often. Our calls are few and far between, but when we connect, we lose track of time and could be on the phone for two hours! No exaggeration.
So the lockdown didn’t send me to the phone. It’s not that I wasn’t affected. I was. But in a different way. I missed not being able to have my usual pit stop after my walk, at Tim’s, where I’d sit with a cup of almond milk tea and read, write, or catch up with a group of new found “Tim’s” friends. I savored those moments… at times three hours would pass away in a jiffy and I’d be surprised.
And also the times, at least thrice in the week, the grandkids would accompany me on my walks only because they wanted to sit with me at Tim’s later. It’s amazing how they’d also keep occupied with crafty things, reading, drawing or then we’d play table games like Name-Place-Animal-Thing, Qwirkle, or Spot It! We’d talk too… joke and share little snippets of our day. These were wonderful moments. The creation of beautiful memories. I missed this very much.
I admit, the lockdown did affect me. But it didn’t drive me to the phone. My walks helped me at these times. I love to be in open spaces. But inclement weather, rainy days, snowfall, black ice, storms, played the villain quite often through, each in its own season, season after season but more so during the long winters.
I missed not being able to connect with nature. Be out in the open. Beneath the boughs of the trees that lined the sidewalks and lanes. Look at the clouds that floated above or an early moon that walked me home.
Still, that didn’t send me running to the phone. I never needed to chat away the hours to ward off boredom or the doldrums. Instead, I’d occupy myself with reading sitting by a window, or as I do now, where I shifted, by the wide dining room door that opens out onto the deck and the backyard.
I’m glad I connect with nature, in a way, daily via my walks. But I’m also glad I am that person who when locked in during the pandemic restrictions or then due to inclement weather, will stand by the window and look out and:
Soak in the patch of blue sky. Float on the billowy white clouds
Gaze in awe at the splendor of a sunrise or at a sunset as a masterpiece of divine art.
Sway on the branches of the tree below my window.
Run with the squirrel along the fence in the backyard.
Hop with the little bird on the deck looking for morsels of food.
Or have a staring match with the black cat that also comes uninvited into the yard and at times peeps into the dining room! A peeping Tom!
Sit with a crow in silent companionship – he perched on a lamppost by my window, I leaning against the window – solitary observers.
Dance with the snowflakes to the song, “Hey. hey snowflakes, my pretty little snowflakes, the change in the weather has made it better for me, Hey, hey snowflakes, my pretty little snowflakes, you got me warm as a fire with a burning desire for you,” as they twirl in crazy swirls, buffeted by the wind and float down past the window pane.
I need nature – the outdoors, even if it is only a glimpse, as the parched earth needs the rain.
A phone call and gossip aren’t what I need to fill a void.
I love to chat with friends and family, but not too often on the phone. I prefer a face-to-face conversation. I think that places me in a minority group. Almost everyone from teens to the elderly is connecting with family and friends daily, more than once in a day! I can’t call up someone just to tell them what I’m cooking or give them a rundown on my daily chores. Nor would I call just to pass on some juicy gossip! If at all I’m inclined to do so, there’s always WhatsApp! It keeps chatter short. To the point. Gets news across and spreads gossip even faster! 😛
“When you meet me, you think I’m quiet. When you talk to me, you’re glad I’m not. When you know me, you get scared when I’m quiet.” I have no clue who to attribute this to. I read it online.
I’m not a quiet person per se. I am quite chatty. But I like my quiet moments between exchanging news and views with the immediate family around me, conversations, and games with the grandkids. I’d rather immerse myself in a book, or in a mystery/detective/thriller/comic web series, movie. I like to cook if I have hearty eaters to feed. I like to sketch, paint, sing, and click photographs, or then get engrossed in some form of activity involving words if there’s nothing much to talk about or there’s no company!
Lately, I’ve been seriously trying to record as many memories as I can to compile coffee table books with photographs, recipes, anecdotes, etc. for the family. And all these activities preclude conversation. Unlike many others, I don’t like to chat even when I’m cooking! I want to be alone while I work in the kitchen.
The mobile phone, as far as I’m concerned, is a great thing to have when you need to communicate with someone urgently, or convey a message, give necessary instructions, and very convenient for reaching overseas contacts. Handy as a ready-at-hand diary. You have all the important information like addresses, phone numbers, etc., in one place and at hand.
So, yes, though I don’t use it all that much to chat with friends and family, nevertheless, it’s something I need. I panic if I go out without my phone. The phone is as necessary and important to me, too!
From the archives! This one is loosely based on a true story told to me by a colleague. I’ve added some and embellished it with my own imagination.
Anna awoke from her sleep with a start. She sat up in bed. She was drenched in perspiration and her breathing was heavy. The dream was recurring more frequently these days. Teresa was by her side in an instant.
“What is it memsahib” she asked. “Is it the dream?”
“Yes, the same bridge with turbulent waters flowing beneath, and I stood looking longingly at the dreamland on the other side, but was too scared to go across. I was trembling all over.
“Don’t worry memsahib,” Teresa said, and gave her a glass of water and tucked her in.
The next day, Anna woke up to exceedingly good news. Rhea, her granddaughter, was coming from Singapore. She had met Rhea for the first time the previous year. She was twenty-three, bright and vivacious. Anna’s son had married and settled in Singapore. She had met her daughter-in-law just once, when Deepak brought his newly wedded wife to meet his family. After that Deepak too was an infrequent visitor.
Anna was ecstatic. She flitted around tidying up her little room and even took extra care in choosing her clothes and doing her hair. Teresa was happy to see her memsahib looking so nice. It had been a long time since Anna had taken interest in herself.
Anna was born into an affluent family. She was the only child and her parents doted on her. Every little wish of hers became their command, till she turned seventeen. Anna fell in love with a boy her parents didn’t approve of, but she stubbornly stood her ground, and they relented quite reluctantly. Anna’s hopes of continuing her college education were cut short when she became pregnant a month after the wedding. By eighteen she was a mother; at twenty-one, she lost both her parents in an accident, and on her twenty-fifth birthday, she became a widow.
According to the custom of her in-laws’ community, she was forbidden to wear bright colors or jewelry, and she could not participate in any celebrations. And according to superstition, she was considered unlucky. Her husband dying on her birthday made things worse. There was talk about it being a punishment for this ‘interfaith’ marriage. “Manhoos” (bad luck) was what they branded her. She was shifted to two small rooms in the outhouse attached to the servant’s quarters. However, Deepak, her son, was made to stay in the main house and was brought up by his uncle.
This was when Anna realized her folly in not paying heed to her parents’ objections to her marriage outside their religion and culture. Deepak grew apart from his mother and the chasm widened when he was sent to study abroad. If it hadn’t been for Teresa, Anna would have landed up in an asylum. Teresa had been sent to her by her parents, to look after Deepak. But God had other plans and Teresa became Anna’s caregiver.
Anna couldn’t forgive her in-laws for what they had done. She was angry and thought God had given up on her too. The only person she met or spoke to was Teresa. Sometimes someone from the house would come to meet her, but she wouldn’t talk to them. Soon even these visits stopped. Then Rhea came into her life like a bright ray of sunshine. Whenever she came on business trips, she visited her and she’d spend most of her time with Anna whom she called Dadi (father’s mother). She was pained to see how Anna had been treated by the other relatives and couldn’t understand why her father did not take his mother out of this pathetic living condition. She had left with promises that she would do something if no one else did.
Anna kept looking at the clock on the wall. Time was dragging its feet! She was annoyed. She was excited. She was waiting eagerly for her beloved granddaughter. What if she didn’t show up?
The sound of a car, a honk, followed by the sound of footsteps, perked her up.
“Dadi, I’m back,” announced Rhea hugging Anna tightly. Wasting no time in further chit chat or pleasantries, she turned to Teresa, “Pack up Dadi’s things. Oh, and yours too,” she added.
“Why missy baby?” asked Teresa.
“Because you are coming to live with me too. I’ve joined a firm here and shifted base and I’m taking my darling Dadi with me.”
There was hardly anything to pack so it wasn’t long before they were in the car and speeding along to their new home. Anna closed her eyes and relaxed. And once again she was at the bridge, but this time she was not alone. Boldly she put her hand into her Maker’s hand and crossed the bridge.
“Dadi, wake up. We’ve arrived.”
Anna opened her eyes and smiled, Yes my child we have indeed, she said. What’s that line you quoted the last time you were here?
“If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else, you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you,” repeated Rhea.
“Ah, a wise head on such young shoulders,” and she kissed Rhea tenderly.
(This was first published on FaithWriters.com in a series of stories between 2006-2009)
The biggest change that came about when I became a grandparent was the way I’d allow relaxations on rules on more occasions than I did as a mother with my children. And I’d join in the huge fun they’d have because of it. I also noticed that while I loved my sons and still do to the moon and back, with the grandkids it’s difficult to explain how my love surpasses that! I was proud of my boys’ achievements back in the day and in the present too. But with these little ones, I’m ecstatic and over the moon and gloat (shamelessly!). It doesn’t matter if someone might not be so pleased to hear about what they did and how proud they make me. I crow! (shamelessly!)
So here’s a warning: This is a gloating, proud grandma posting!
I like to keep a Word Search booklet with me. It keeps me happily occupied when I’ve done all that I had to do or when I need to take a break from something or the other! For a few days Amaara, the older twin ( by a few minutes) had been watching me. The twins were 7 yrs old then.
Amu: “Dada, why aren’t you doing your word search? Are you tired of it?”
No! I’ve finished the whole book. I need to buy another one. And with all the restrictions and warnings, I don’t go to crowded places myself.
Amu: “Then why don’t you ask mama or papa to get it for you?”
No… I don’t want to bother anyone. Besides, I prefer to buy my things myself. I like to pick and choose what I want. Someone else will not know exactly what I want.
Amu: “Oh! Yes, they won’t know. And if they get something you don’t like, you won’t use it. It will go waste.”
Exactly my point! It will be a waste of money as well. That would be worse.
Amu: “Oh, Dada! she said with the most loving and adoring look.”
She left my room after a bit of chit chat. Later, that afternoon, Miraaya, the younger one, came excitedly into my room with a broad grin on her face.
Mia: “Dada, Dada! Guess what! Amu has a surprise for you!”
She sure had the biggest, sweetest, and most loving surprise for me. My little sweetheart had made a Word Search booklet for me.
Amu:“Dada, see what I made for you. You don’t have to go out. Now you can do your word cross puzzles!”
But I don’t do cross word, baby. I prefer the quicker and easier word search. It leaves me more time for other things.
Amu: Makes a funny, disappointed face. “I made a big mistake. I forgot the name of the activity and wrote Word Cross Puzzle instead.”
She gave me the stapled 3-page booklet with a cocktail of emotions. On her face and particularly in her eyes, I could see the great waves of love, kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, and they engulfed me. What a special bonding we have!
Here is the little booklet Amu made for me so lovingly.
And I was quite impressed, one day, when the younger twin, Miraaya, brought back this Math feedback she gave to her teacher in class.
I went through the three points she had mentioned and thought back some decades, to the time I was a 7+! I’d have never been able to write with such clarity about what I wanted more from my Math lessons. And in any case, I wasn’t doing what they are learning now in Math class! At seven we weren’t talking “strategies”! And even if I could express myself so well in writing, I wouldn’t have written a positive ‘feedback’ about Math. I never liked math! LOL
I am so glad she likes Math so much. And I’m so blessed to be able to experience these little day-to-day activities. Being a grand parent is such a beautiful part of life. I’m fortunate to be able to be a part of all my grandkids’ daily life. I learn so much when I talk to them; play games with them; when they share their thoughts with me or ask me numerous questions.
Well, if you’ve reached this far – Thank You! I appreciate it 🙂
I was talking to 8 yr old Aly, some years back, and I told her that she was a big contrast to her younger self.
“In which way Dadi?” she asked, knitting her brows.
“Well, you were extremely talkative and a great conversationalist, even at the age of two! But now, you don’t engage in much conversation so often.”
“Yeah,” she said in a drawl. “Was I irritating?” she added with a broad grin.
“On the contrary, my dear, your conversations were highly interesting and you were cute.”
I rifled through an old journal and luckily, I found a conversation I had recorded. It was one of the ones I had with her when she was two going on three. She had been in the mood to conduct a General Knowledge class and threw in a bit of vocabulary as well. Here it is:
I learn something interesting every time I talk to Alyssa.A couple of days back, as we chatted over the net, she asked, “Dadi, do you know where the North Pole is?”
“No. Do you?” I was keen to learn what she knew about it.
“Yes. It’s at the top. At the tip of the planet.” And just so I didn’t get confused about the “top” and the “tip” of the planet, she circled her arms above her head and with her index finger tapped the top-tip (coined that word) of her head. “Santa lives here!” she said brightly.
“Ah! So that’s where it is! Hmm..”
“The South Pole is at the bottom,” she added for my benefit.
Then, to complete my Geography lesson, she informed me about the time difference between Canada and India. It was a good “8 1/2 hrs-9hrs” she said confidently. Then she realized I wasn’t in India.
“What’s the time now in Chile?”
I told her and she wasn’t impressed by the comparatively lesser time difference as compared to the difference between Canada and India! It made me laugh. The things that impress a three year old!
“Mummy bought some ‘biiig’ pears yesterday,” she said changing the subject. It was vocabulary time now.
“We get very big pears here too, you know.”
“No,” she countered. “This one is not just very big, it’s ginormous!” Once again, I was blown away by her vocabulary. I just looked at her with adoration and admiration.
“You heard me?” she asked because I was quiet. 😀
“I heard you sweetheart and I’m so proud of you.”
(I’m a puffed up, proud granny hen. And I’ll be crowing about her. No apologies!)
When they (my twin granddaughters) were about 2 yrs or so I, along with their Nanny, would go out for walks with them. There was a phase when they loved face painting. However, they had never asked for a face paint before a walk. This day, they insisted they wanted to become cats and that we should take them as they were – Cats ‘Meow’!
On the way, they came across a lamp post and decided to sing and enact Hickory Dickory Dock… No amount of coaxing could dissuade them from performing their ‘action song’ using the lamp post as a Grandfather Clock! Much to our amusement (and that of the passersby), they went through the whole act and I decided I’d better click pics and preserve not just the memory but also the fun and laughter I experienced with them. Today, I’m so glad I did.
A few months back, my son and DIL bought a house. The day they moved in, the twins were extremely excited. They called me and announced that they had “finally” moved lock, stock, and barrel, into their “new house.” Thereafter they promptly took me on a tour of the place with running commentary and expert comments. They did a great job I must say. Soon, the tour was done inside and outside the house too.
It was time to settle down and chat.
Amu: You know what, Dada, there’s a room just for you when you come here.
“Now, isn’t that simply fantastic! I will have to think about how to do it up.”
Mia: Mama’s already thought about that. She’s put up new curtains too.
“Well, then I’ll think about what should go on the walls and some other itty-bitty things.”
Amu: It’s going to be fun Dada. Aren’t you excited?
“Yes, I am. Super excited.”
Mia: But you know what Dada, just in case you’re wondering which of the two bedrooms we showed you was yours, the smaller room is yours. The bigger one is ours. You do know yours is the smaller one, right?
Two worried faces looked at me intently. They expected me to be disappointed. I decided to play along.
“Oh!” I said and pulled a long face.
Amu: (clearly moved) Dada, Dada, it’s just a wee bit smaller than ours, she said placatingly.
“Then it’s alright!” I laughed. “Anyway, it makes sense, you know. There are two of you and just one ME. You definitely have more stuff to put in. I was just teasing you. I’d be surprised if I had the bigger room”
They relaxed. And looked at each other in silent communication.
“We’re going to share the bathroom too!” they exclaimed, taking advantage of this moment. And giggles followed that revelation.
“I hope it’s big enough,” I said laughing.
Mia: Oh, Yes, Dada, the bathroom is big enough, but (she pauses) the WC is a bit low! How will you manage? Your back will hurt.
Amu: Maybe she can use mama-papa’s one.
Mia: Or the powder room… the WC there isn’t low!
As I listened and watched their expressions changing with each thought and possible solution, I realized how genuinely concerned they were about their Dada and her physical limitations in some areas.
“What would I do without you two ladoos to care for me! (Literally, ladoo is a sweetmeat). You think about everything to make me comfortable.”
Both: We love you Dada!
“Love you to smithereens too, my dolls.”
Amu: Do you know the master bedroom’s bathroom is BIG and has a jacuzzi too?
“Yes, I heard about that and saw it too on the tour you took me on around the house.”
Amu: Yes, but you don’t know something. (both the girls giggle).
“Now don’t laugh alone. Come on, tickle my funny bone too. I like a good laugh.”
Amu: Mama said she’d like to relax in the jacuzzi with a glass of wine.
“Oh boy! Now that’s a thought. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself!”
Both: But you can’t! Mama said only she and papa would be using that bathroom.
“Oh shoot! (sad face) and here I was dreaming about luxuriating in there with a glass of wine!”
Amu: Really?! But can’t you imagine it?
“Well, I already did and that’s why I thought it would be awesome.”
Amu: (thoughtfully) No Dada, just imagine a naked woman with a glass of wine in the jacuzzi! Ewww!!
Mia: It’s so silly, Dada, (she says between bouts of laughter.)
Amu: And so funny. Just imagine that Dada!
“Well, I could imagine that but I’d rather not, you know,” I manage to say as I laugh out loud. “Come on girls, ever heard of bathing suits aka swimsuits, bikinis. Imagine that kind of a woman.
Amu: But that is not so funny, Dada. Another burst of laughter.
Their laughter and mine punctuated and truncated our conversation about nude women, wine glasses, and jacuzzis.
Some years ago, when Aly, the eldest of my grandkids was about two and a half years old, on a video call she asked me about her grandpa.
Aly – Dadi, do I have a grandpa?
“Yes, you do?”
Aly – Where is he then?
“He’s not here now,” I said, wondering if she had already learned that he had died long ago.
Aly – I know, she said, with wisdom beyond her years shining from her eyes.
“So you know he isn’t here with us, and you know why, yes?”
Aly – Yes, he is in heaven.
“Yes, sweetie. Your grandpa is in heaven.” I was relieved.
Aly – Does he know about me?
“I’m sure he does.”
Aly – Can he see me?
“I believe he can whenever he peeks through the clouds.”
Aly – (Beaming a bright smile) Does he love me?
“Oh, my dear, you cannot imagine how much he loves you. He adores you.”
Aly – (She’s glowing by now) Dadi, does he miss me?
I choked on my words as tears threatened to spill out and said, “Trust me sweetie, he misses you very, very much.”
Her little heart found a lot of comfort in that assurance. She flashed her angelic smile and settled into the couch more comfortably, content in the knowledge that her grandpa knew about her; loved her; missed her.
Sometimes it’s so much better to sugarcoat a bitter pill.
PS: Down the road, in the present time, she’s eleven and asked me about him and wanted me to tell her how he died, how I felt, and how her father and his brother took it.
This time, I didn’t sugarcoat the pill. She was ready to hear about pain and loss.