They’re often called by various names. Dada, Dadu, Dadi, Nana, Nanu, Nani, Nani-ma, Bade papa, Badi ma being the favourites amongst many. They are our Grandparents.
I have fond memories of my childhood when holidays and school breaks meant a visit to Nani House. Bags were packed and countdowns recited with uncontained excitement. Nani house meant loads of hugs, love and pampering. Not that any of that was missing at our own home where we stayed with Dadi. But the exclusivity of the visits and the distance does make a difference.
Those were the days when mobile phones were only heard of in movies. When internet did not exist and video calls via satellite were only used by the Intelligence agencies or NASA. So it was either good old landline calls or visits.
I remember our Sunday visits. Every weekend, we would all pile up in our car and Papa would drive us halfway across the city just in time for the Mahabharata to start. Nani would have chilled Shikanji ready for us. All ten or twelve of us would make ourselves comfortable in one room, half of us on the bed, some on the couch, remaining on the floor or wherever they could fit themselves. It was a huge bungalow, but Sunday called for everyone to be united and together.
Those were the days when we still had 24 hours in a day and they were enough.
Afternoons were spent playing with my uncles. Teams were made and unmade. At the end of the games, there were only winners, no losers. Nanu – Nani made sure of that. Our favourite game back then was Ludo and Patte pe patta. A far cry from the high-tech apps and games that currently rule the life of children these days. I hope and wish that I can one day play these long-forgotten board games with my toddler and revisit my childhood with him.
I remember how my Nani would make us pluck her greys by rewarding us for every grey strand we found and got rid of. 25 paise for every 5 strands. That, in those days, for a child was a lot of money. I still wonder how my Granny managed to retain her crowning glory after putting such a glorious offer on the table. Maybe we weren’t as naughty as they said we were or maybe she was much too smart for us naïve kids.
I remember the days when spring meant sleeping under the stars. Armed with a cot each, we would set camp on the terrace of the house. The day would end listening to my Grandfather recite stories and falling asleep gazing at the stars. Those were the days when families could sleep on their rooftops and not worry about some crazy Monkey-man attacking them or waking up to find a member of the family missing.
I remember the visits to the local market with Nanu-Nani. How they would hold our tiny hand with their frail hands never once letting go. I remember the weekly visit to the golgappa shop with them and how they indulged us with that “last golgappa” every time I would plead for one.
I remember all this and more. All I have are happy fond memories of my time with them. I am blessed to still have them around, to shower their love and blessings on us and their great-grandson. I wish I could meet them more often, spend more time with them, for I know life goes on and one day we all will too. But until then, I want to make the most of it.
I want Rehaan to experience the same love and joy that only a grandparent can give to his grandchild. I want him to spend time with his parent’s parents. I want him to have a treasure trove of memories like I do.
“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” – Alex Haley