I can’t remember my first specific memory of my grandparents- specifically my maternal grandparents whom we sisters lovingly call Dadu and Ammey. But there are memory triggers in the form of soft, rounded hands cradling my little face as eyes full of love and tenderness looked down at me; or sturdy hands that lifted me off the ground in one happy sweep as my frock billowed in the breeze causing me to go into fits of giggles.
My sister and I had happily divided the unadulterated love of our grandparents between us- she had undisputed claim on our Dadu while I was the sole claimant of my grandma’s affections and attention. It was as easy as that- and the elderly couple happily complied as well.
My sister was deftly guided through the labyrinths of Indian myths and epics by my erudite and enthusiastic grandpa, while I (three years younger) was given the uninterrupted supply of handmade dolls and dresses for the vast array of toys I had accumulated from hand-me-downs as well as newer acquisitions.
They were such good days- such days of simple joys, of languid afternoons spent dozing off while listening to stories in the soft lilting voice of my grandma. They were days of delight when we sisters could have yet another sleepover with our grandparents when mum and dad wanted to catch a movie. They are days that will return nevermore except as remnants of the half smiles like the one I am giving now while writing and reminiscing about them.
How can I measure what I have gained or lost when it comes to my grandparents? Both are immeasurable. How have they inspired me? Well, the greatest gift that the elderly give to the next generation is the sense of compassion and empathy for all things big and small, strong and frail. I believe this is my endowment as well after all these years.
Today, when my little one runs into the arms of my mother, I do miss my grandma and her touch. I know my sister still gets that lump in her throat when she remembers her tears on the day our grandpa passed away.
Life is hard- especially when you have to grow up. So it is like an oasis in this desert when you can return to your grandparents or to their memories to relive the simple bonds of joys that unite two vastly different generations.
Dadu and Ammey, I do miss you.