” Aaji, apla photo kadhaychay mala. “”Thamb, me pan tujhasarkhi topi ghalte “, said my Aaji, an 85 year old outside, while still with the heart of a child inside.
Aaji. Ajoba. The most wonderful thing to happen to anyone, are grandparents. Or rather, it is the other way round. You happen to them, forever to be their bundle of joy.
I consider myself to be very fortunate, growing up in the presence of my maternal and paternal grandparents.When you are small and still growing and learning new things, they just seem like a natural part of your growing-up stage. You hardly feel or realize their importance back then. But as time passes, one comes to not only realize but also appreciate the significant role they play in keeping the family close-knit. In Indian culture and tradition, having close knit families was once the way of life. The elders had a say in everything, from the birth of a child, to education and marriage. All important decisions were taken with consent and counsel. Sadly, onslaught of 21st century and significant impact of western culture has brought its own demerits. Along with independence and exposure, the size of once a big family has been reduced to a nuclear one, more suited to the current scenario of adults working round the clock, hectic lifestyles, increasing pressure and a general wish to live an independent lifestyle. Many other factors sometimes force the children to live away from their parents for longer periods of time.
Why I say I am the fortune one today it is because I was raised by my grandparents. After the death of my mother, it was they who stood against all odds and reprise their role of raising not one, but three kids. Me, my 3 year old brother, and a distraught dad. At that stage, it was crucial for the well being of our family to find that balance and take control of the situation. Both sets of grandparents stood like strong pillars of support, guidance and strength. That day, they had lost their child, their daughter-in-law, and the companion they had happily chosen for their son. But looking at us, they endured on, braving emotional,mental,financial and ultimately physical barriers to make us what we are today.
They never stopped or discouraged me from doing the things I wanted to do. ( Read, rebelled 😀 ) They simply explained the good and bad side of things, and let me be the decider. In a way, this pushed me to become aware of the implication of choices I made while also enabling me to be independent. They always strove to inculcate good, principled values in us. From the ‘Chiu-kau chi goshta, to Akbar-Birbal stories, to recitals of Ramayan and Mahabharata’ they always made sure we were surrounded by goodness, strength and valor. My love for books, reading and writing stems from my grandfather, an English Professor and Rotary President. I thank him for introducing me to the world of classics,mystery and fiction, thereby turning me into a fanatic idealist and forever a dreamer 🙂
Having traveled across the length and breadth of India in their prime, they were never short of quirky tales and experiences. I am yet to see another individual as enthusiastic as my 85 year old Aaji, a Geography Teacher by profession, an Artist by passion. At this age, she still has the enthusiasm of a 20 year old. She gives me courage, when things are not going well. She gives me peace, when I want to rattle something off. She gives me hope, that one day things will be better, that I must continue to endeavor, sometimes when when the odds are stacked up.
As I grow older, more mature enough to handle responsibilities of home and work, of learning new things, I thank them, because it is their values which has got me so far and will continue to do so. Integrity for oneself, for one’s profession, a modest outlook towards the people, seriousness about the approach towards life, respect for elders and about having a strong desire to work hard and follow whatever path you have chosen for yourself. Most importantly, to always remember that it is family who supports you, stands by you and encourages you in happiness,sadness, good or bad times. And funnily enough, now I know that I will prefer to live in a close knit family, one that can be with each other through thick and thin, the one which will help each other grow, and one which I can call as my own.
As an able and capable individual, it is up to each one of us to make this world a better place to live. Greatness does not alone limit to amassing much wealth, name and fame. Taking care of your grandparents, taking care of your parents as they grow old, is a great deed as any other.
As my Aaji says, ” Mansachi olakh kartutvani hote”, I must strive to do my minuscule part in the grand scheme of things, and hope for more strength to face the unexpected changes life throws with the same poise, strength and determination as they had. I am and will always be forever indebted to them for all that they have done !