What Kind Of Relationship Do We Have With Our Grandparents?

I have lived my entire life with my grandparents. I feel privileged to have spent half of my life with them... I'm in my early thirties and there hasn't been a day that has passed by without them until they both passed away recently... 

I have lived my entire life with my grandparents. I feel privileged to have spent half of my life with them… I’m in my early thirties and there hasn’t been a day that has passed by without them until they both passed away recently… 

They were not a perfect couple but they had something which made them complete and perfect, as they say, they were imperfectly perfect… They spent 65 years of their life together … I witnessed their love, their youth of whatever was left when I was born and since then, I have watched them grow old together …

My grandmother died in December 2019 when I was not home. This was the first time I went out for 20 days on a trip and when I came back she wasn’t there, or I can put it this way that I rushed back as soon as I heard that she’s no more… 

I couldn’t see her for the last time… she was my responsibility because it was me who used to take care of her whenever she needed it… I had my sleep cycle changed, I used to sleep in the morning because what if she needed me at night, which she usually does, so yeah she was someone for whom I cared deeply, we used to have our moments, I used to fight with her but that wasn’t at all in bad faith, she was old but bold, her voice loud as a roar … 

Whatever I’m today is what she made me, somewhere in between religious and culturally rooted and definitely a compassionate one, though I’m still trying to discover myself.

She was the first lady of our house who was well educated (double M.A and B.Ed) and that mattered because she was the most qualified one from her generation. It was commendable for a woman who was born before partition and she aspired either to be a doctor or a teacher, during that time. She couldn’t become a doctor, she was married at the age of 18. But she did become a teacher, rather principal. 

She used to tell me stories about how events took place and how India changed just like that. She literally witnessed all the wars and the change India went through. A very religious person, my grandmother made me learn all the prayers, shlokas, verses etc. She imbibed in my love for the culture we belong to. 

Although she wasn’t a feminist who didn’t understand the concept of equality as her roots were very deep, she was open to learning new things. Her conditioning made her a little rigid though she did adapt, as much as possible, to the changing times. 

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Most of my evenings were spent with her as we used to have tea together and she would read these scriptures and narrate the stories of whatever was written in them to me. That’s how I know many stories from our scriptures.

But there is this void, which I certainly cannot fill. She wasn’t well when I left her like that, I was confused about whether I should go on that trip or not. Eventually, I decided to follow my heart though I wasn’t 100% sure. I was going through something and I thought this trip might actually be helpful. 

I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to see her the last time when actually I was the one always available for her on call. I remember she called me on the 3rd day of my trip when I was in Madurai. That was the last time I heard from her. 

After that, she never called, maybe because she wasn’t able to, and when I used to ask my mom about her health, she would say she’s fine but not good. But it never occurred to me that something of this sort can happen, that she will go just like that. I guess life has a pretty much weird sense of humour, it knocks you out when you’re at your lowest already. 

The day she died was the day I prayed for her, for her peace. I remember it as it is and I could never forget that. I never hoped that my prayers would do something like that to her. I was angry, and I was tired of crying, so I soaked it all in. I bottled up my feelings. When I came back she wasn’t there and her final rites were conducted earlier that day, and it felt all empty.

And to be honest I have been living in denial for some time now and I know I need to get over it. I will eventually.

So I met my grandfather as soon as I came back, I saw him crying for the first time in my entire life.  He cried like a baby, I hugged him in an instant and said baba everything’s gonna be fine. This too shall pass. I was giving him hope even when I wasn’t that hopeful myself. At that moment I forgot that whatever I say would do no good to him because he has already lost his companion, friend, guide, his wife, his sail of 65 years. 

His pain was immense and beyond my imagination. He tried to be strong for me and asked me if I could sleep in his room, he didn’t want to be alone. Nor did I.  But he couldn’t survive much longer without her as they were made for each other, I believe.

He couldn’t bear the separation. He passed away exactly 2.5 months later in March 2020. It was our last Holi with him and first without her. I remember he went numb, he used to sit and think all day about her, I used to study in his room and try to distract him as much as I could.  

He seemed fine during the daytime but nights were the hardest to fathom, he fell ill and gradually left everything. He couldn’t sleep or eat and that’s when we knew that he won’t survive. 

But he gave us an ample amount of time to be prepared for his farewell and eventually that pain took him. But my point is could anybody become that ready ever to let that person go with whom you’ve spent your entire life? Does it get any easier?

As far as baba is concerned he was a wonderful man. We had our differences, of course, that’s what the generation gap is but he was an amazing person. I used to call him a walking dictionary since there wasn’t a single word he didn’t know the meaning of. Well educated, informed and updated, the law was his forte, though he wasn’t a law graduate. He was not a religious person at all. 

Maybe he was an atheist but he was a man of principles and was dead honest. He made me pursue law, and we used to discuss a lot of things, cases, recent judgements. We too had our moments. He was very fascinated by the changes our society had witnessed. I remember one incidence when he abruptly asked what’s homosexuality and how does it affect people.

I mean I was amazed by this question because for a man of his age and generation, who was born before partition, he was so eager to know how things work in today’s time, new concepts, ideas, principles, he was all in. Then I described to him the concept and he said it’s not a bad thing, I guess. I don’t know whether he understood it or not but he accepted it and that was commendable.

There was no parda between me and him. He carried a cool attitude that never made me feel like hiding anything from him. I still remember whenever I had cramps (period pain), he would ask me what happened and I would say baba it’s periods, and it’s paining like hell. He would then tell me to go ask my amma for her homemade remedy she’ll give you something for your pain.

And you know what, the coolest this he ever did was he threw a grand party not one but two parties when I was born because I was the first girl born after 100 years in my family, before me, there were all men and my grandfather breaking all the stereotypes of the society celebrated me. 

It wasn’t only him who celebrated with me but my grandmother did too. When my mother said that I want my first child to be a daughter, my grandmother told my mother about some fasting ritual which my mother did, so that she could be blessed with a girl child first. In my family my brother came second, breaking another stereotype where mothers do fasting only for their sons.

So, for people from my generation, I don’t know how many knew their grandparents or still know but for me, it was a wonderful experience and that’s something I will cherish my whole life, rather it’s my whole life because not many people get to live with their grandparents this long and not all grandparents are as cool as mine were.

I would say if your grandparents are alive, be with them because you won’t get a chance after they are gone and that void isn’t going to do any good if you missed your chance. Coming generations might never know what grandparents are because times have changed tremendously, we dream big, we aspire big, nobody wants to settle for less, we all want to settle in big cities and achieve something big. We all want to make a difference but I have realized that by running after such things we somehow make our lives miserable and very singular. 

Not that I’m saying it’s wrong, it’s totally personal and I get it. It’s just that nowadays we don’t have time for our parents let alone the grandparents. We are so used to that rush that we even sometimes forget what our roots are. 

Now since women have accomplished a lot and some are still trying to, we have rights and voices, and our choices. we are marrying late and choosing to have kids late, which is absolutely fine, but what our generation had was something very pure and full of love so I guess we are the last ones left and the lucky ones. 

This is my journey and, as a small-town girl in a joint family, it has been a wonderful experience for me. I just hope that people at large can relate to it.

Image source: An image from Pexels 


About the Author

Ankita Mishra

I’m a woman in my early thirties, preparing for state civil services, once divorced and faced some dire situations in life, though those situations have made me strong in the process, I would love read more...

5 Posts | 21,458 Views

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