I had a childhood blessed with grandparents. And I absolutely loved it! Why? Because they pampered us in ways they could, instilled a certain amount of discipline in us, some good habits and some bad ones and made our house warm and comforting.
Every time I hear someone say they didn’t get to spend time with their grandparents I feel happy that Maa – Dada (Baba’s parents) were always around. Maa was a true-blue drama queen (it runs in the family) but Dada was the sweet and adorable grandpa – straight out of a movie!
He loved all his grandkids. Especially us girls. While Ajoba pampered us mostly with food, Dada had his own gestures of love. He would take us on long walks with his Gang of Grandpas, gift us money and treats on our birthdays and his too, get us fresh fruits and watch cricket with us with utmost interest and knowledge.
And the best part was that he protected us from beatings. I don’t remember my parents raising their hand on us no matter how angry they were. Because Dada always said, “Never ever hit girls. Ever!” And that principle stayed with him all his life.
What I loved the most was his never ending stash of chocolates. Behave well, score well in exams, excel in competitions, earn praise, feel happy or sad and he would always present a Mango Bite (if you’re a 90’s kid, you know what a Mango Bite is)! And all you had to do to earn a daily dose of Mango Bites was go for “Shatapavli” (walking 100 steps) after each meal. Not a day went by without us enjoying these daily treats.
With Alzheimer’s he had no recollection of who we were. So he would always say, “Aren’t you the kindest people, taking care of a stranger like me!” On lucky days he’d think we were his daughters. While most of the times we were complete strangers. But being with “strangers” never troubled him. He always said that there is a sense of comfort and belonging in this house.
He truly lived his life with no complaints and no demands. After Chaitrali was born, he wrote that his life was “content and complete”. And with my birth he felt lucky and blessed. Probably the reason why he named me Bhagyashree.
I remember the void I felt after he was gone. I still feel it every time we talk about him. And then all I remember is his ever smiling face, twinkling eyes, one hand up in the air waving and him saying, “I’m quite alright here!”