A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend
Whenever there is a mention of grandparents, there is mostly a reverence attached to it. Along with the reverence, are the reminiscences of warmth, various fragrances, heaps of wisdom, and unbridled laughter. Grandmothers are special, what with their cooking and knitting, and loving care. My maternal and paternal grandmothers find mention in many other articles on my blog.
I am as lucky as one gets when there is a chance to known both your grandmothers and learn many valuable life lessons from them.
My paternal grandmother, my daadi, who we lovingly called Beeji, was very old and wise. She is said to be 102 at the time of her passing. She never went to school and was never formally educated. She was self-taught and learned to read Hindi on her own and write too. She always signed her name in all legal documents. I always saw her either reading her Shrimad Bhagavad Gita in the mornings or her weekly Hindi newspaper during the day. She took care of the entire household comprising seven sons, two daughters and their families. She educated all her children to excel in life and all this she did single-handedly. The family lost my grandfather to diabetes when he was only in his fifties. At the time, only my eldest uncle was married, and the younger ones were studying. My Beeji had the strength that inspired me in my life’s journey. She did a remarkable job of raising all her children and managing the entire family successfully.
Not only was she aware of the current affairs, but she also took an avid interest in all political and social family discussions. Sometimes, she watched movies on television with me. I remember her liking Hindi film star Rajesh Khanna, especially in his movie ‘Bawarchi’, and she found him a decent actor. I am sure that my brother would remember all the jokes he would crack and make her laugh.
She always said, “never forget a good deed and the doer”. In my darkest hour, she was there with me sitting quietly for days and praying. Looking back, I know that her presence next to me helped. Till the very end, she could walk on her own. Small stature and a great personality, she was my rock.
My maternal grandmother, my naani, is not much different from my Beeji. A strong woman, she raised her family of five daughters and one son with an iron fist. Unlike my daadi, she was well-educated. She went to NCC and did rifle-training. She was a school teacher. She learned to tailor and could stitch men’s suit too. In the 1930s, she was the first in her district to go to a hostel for advance studies. Taking inspiration from her and her father, more families started sending their daughters from their village for further studies. She took ‘diksha’ in her sixties and studied the scriptures in detail. For the last four decades, she has dedicated her life in the service of the Supreme Lord. She has inspired others in the family, which include her eldest daughter (my mom), her only son and his wife (my uncle and aunt), to follow the same path. More than a decade ago, my aunt, followed by my uncle left their coveted careers as a doctor and departmental chief of a medical college, and an engineer and a successful businessman, respectively, in His devotion. My naani is still active and independent and is the thread that strings my maternal family together.
(My naani and beeji in the same frame…taken almost two decades ago…)
I like to think that I inherited many personality traits from both my grannies. They are my inspiration and my pride.
Today, April 23, 2021, I lost my naani. I could not attend my beeji’s cremation more than a decade ago. And now, due to COVID, I am unable to travel to Maharashtra for my naani’s last darshan. It is so heartbreaking and I am updating this post tearfully.
Grandmothers are mystical creatures. My grandmothers were unicorns and fairy godmothers. May Sri Krsna take them in His fold. May my dear fairy Godmother attain Sadgati. She spent her lifetime in His devotion. May my Krsna embrace her.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||