Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back

Well, the vacation happened and it was nice, which is just as well since tough times loom ahead – the family situation is getting more intense generally. Shortly after touching down I learnt that my grandfather had passed away around 36 hours earlier. My dadi, one of the strongest, most pragmatic people I know, decided not to call and inform us because she felt it would spoil the last day of our stay and anyhow we couldn’t have made it back to Delhi more than a few hours before we were scheduled to. We missed the cremation, and that’s something I feel very bad about. My last memory of dadaji is of him wishing us well, telling us to “have a good time in Ceylon”. He turned 90 this March and much of his natural poise and authority – which impressed so many people during his lengthy army career – had been undermined after a stroke a couple of years ago. But he was still very alert given his age and circumstances, and still partial to a peg of scotch every evening.

Also, the vaguely old-world British style of speaking English was in place till the end. “How are you, my dear?” he would say to dadiji each morning in a clipped but warm voice, though most of their longer conversations were in Punjabi. They would have celebrated their 60th anniversary later this year and I worry about how she will cope. She had been prepared for his passing for a long time, and often voiced her hope that he would be the first to go (since he was so dependent on her), but dealing with the actual loss is of course a completely different matter. They had been together since she was 20 and he 30, and though it wasn’t a love marriage in the often-myopic way that we use that term today, it was built on respect, an attachment that kept growing over the years and an understanding that adjustments had to be made (in both directions, not just on her part) given their very different natures. They traveled the world together on his postings, on one occasion living for years in another country with no other family to depend on; they brought up a son who was to be a constant source of disappointment and trouble, and later in life they did everything they could for a grandson who couldn’t always be around for them. It’s difficult to imagine the strength they must have derived from each other through all the good and bad times.

Most people don’t have to wait till their thirties to experience losing a grandparent for the first time, but in my case one grandparent (my nana) died before I was born and the other three have had extremely long lives. This has had its good and bad sides. On one hand, it’s been painful to see them get old and fragile, constantly afflicted by illnesses, dependent on domestic help on a day-to-day basis while also dealing with other family woes that I won’t mention here. When Abhilasha and I got married last year, my dadi joked that she wished it had happened when I was in my early or mid-20s since they would have been in better shape then, and would have been able to pamper their granddaughter-in-law the way they would have liked.

On the other hand, their longevity has meant that I've been able to spend some quality time with them in the past few years – something that wouldn’t have happened if they had left earlier, when I was in the much more self-involved phase of growing up and working hard to establish myself in my profession. I’ve cherished this extra time, the fact that it’s helped me fulfill a few of my responsibilities towards them, or even make them happy through little things like seeing my name at the top of a newspaper article.

Though I’ve lived with my mum and nani since I was a child, I’m also the only grandchild of my dada and dadi, and for all practical purposes their only immediate family too – so the level of responsibility has been high, especially in the past few years as they have grown more infirm. (I should clarify that for most of this time, my dadi has been astonishingly resilient and very determined that my life and work mustn’t be compromised on their account, except in the most extreme situations.)

Am going to do what I can to persuade her to stay with us now, but there are many complications, many things that have to be settled first, and none of it is going to happen quickly. It looks like I’m going to be spending a lot of time moving between houses and dealing with tetchy matters in the foreseeable future. Might also have to cut down on work after I’ve finished with the few assignments I have pending.

Will post a few old photos of my grandparents once I have them scanned, and will also put up some pictures from Sri Lanka soon, but otherwise it looks like activity here will continue to be sporadic for some time. More updates when possible.

41 comments:

  1. my condolences.
    touching post .. this.

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  2. :(

    bad times for gradparents it seems - my grandmother is in hospital too...

    my love to aunty, dadiji and naniji and a hug to you.

    Smita

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  3. May your grand father's soul rest in peace.

    Take care,
    Vishesh

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  4. Condolences. Love your work.

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  5. Sorry to hear about your Dadaji's death, my condolences.

    PS - Never commented before but I love your blog and visit it everyday

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  6. I lost all four before I was 19, and never even saw one of them. Can understand ur loss..

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  7. Touched a chord. Sorry to hear about your loss - my condolences.
    ano

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  8. My condolences. Really painful to see loved one go.

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  10. My maternal grand-parents and paternal grand-father passed away before I was born. So I felt the same when my paternal grand mother passed away when i was about 12.

    Let his soul rest in peace.

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  11. Condolences, Jai. 90 is quite an innings.

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  12. My condolences..

    Do not know what else to say..

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  13. Jai: our condolences (my family joins me in this). I never knew my dadi, but i spent a very happy childhood in constant company with my dadaji who passed away when i was 14. My nana & nani are both struggling with failing body functions & dementia (in one of them due to alzheimer's). I hope things go well with you...and you are able to help your dadi.
    I've been a reader of your blog for a long time, and so I'll take the liberty of saying that If you need any kind of help in Delhi, please email.

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  14. I'm sorry for your loss. Wishing your dadiji the strength to cope, and dadaji a peaceful rest. Sounds like he had an enriching live.

    I lost my grandfather year before last, and we never saw my dadi cry. There was too much to be done, and she was involved in all of it. I think her composure brought everyone else to tears.

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  15. Jai,

    My sympathies. May you get the strength and wisdom that you will need to sort out things.

    Regards
    Amrita

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  16. Dear Jai:
    I am another one of your silent readers crawling out of the woodwork to let you know that in this tough time I offer you my condolences. I hope everything works out well and both you and your daadi find the strength you need.
    Regards,
    Silpa

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  17. I'm very sorry to hear about your loss.
    Rukmini.

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  19. Very Sad to learn that ..don't know what to say. May his soul rest in peace . take care

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  20. *huuuuuuuug* Am out of the closet now. I'm one of those who love your blog, but never commented.

    Jai, this too shall pass. Take care.

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  21. So sorry to hear of your loss, Jai.
    May you and your family find the strength to bear this loss.
    This post was really moving.

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  22. My condolences, Jai. But I must confess that my predominant emotion when I read the post, was envy. You are so fortunate to have been close to 3 of your grandparents in your adult year. I lost 3 of mine when I was too young to even remember their faces and did not get to know my surviving grandmother in my adulthood - as you pointed out, the self-absorption of youth.

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  23. jai my condolences.
    how beautiful are these staunch old ladies. I have known two such in my life. after long years of marriage, they too prayed to outlive their spouses so that the old gentlemen were well taken care of till the end and did not become someone else's responsibility.
    I am rooting for her..

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  24. My condolences to you and your family.

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  25. Jai, welcome back. Wish it had been in happier circumstances. But my condolences and best to everyone.

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  26. "..an attachment that kept growing over the years" - this alone was enough to bring tears.
    condolences & wish ur family all the strength for this difficult time.

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  27. condolences, Jai. Very touching post this. I have no memories of my grandparents; one thing I always regret.

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  28. My condolences, Jai. Never commented before, but have gone through almost every post..

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  29. Dear Jai,

    I'm a regular reader who's never commented before. Just wanted to offer my condolences and wish that things work out well for you and your family.

    Regards,
    Ramya

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  30. My condolences. Really touched a chord.

    Jai

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  31. Really sorry for your loss. I have a daughter who is four and her doting grandmom (my ma in law) who is 77 -- and everyday I pray to god that she sticks around for as long as possible... it's beautiful that bond... and your touching post just proved it... take care

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  32. I am very sorry to hear about your loss. My condolences to you and your family. I have read your blog for many years and never commented before
    Manjula

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  33. my heartfelt condolences.... may god give you the strength to pass through this period of your life...

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  34. My condolences Jai.

    I don't remember my grandparents much, but have an aunt who is more like a granny. Your post reminded me of the fact that we may be taking our time together for granted, I more so.

    Been a regular reader, but never commented before.

    Take care.

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  35. Deepest Condolences and may your grandmother find the strength to deal with this loss.

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  36. Your post was inspiring especially to have it written on the blog whose readers are of the GenX and may not even want to take care of their parents, forget Grandparents. Kudos to you on sharing this with us.

    Destination Infinity.

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  37. Jai, I'm very sorry for your loss.

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  38. very sorry to hear of your loss. my deepest condolences.

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  39. Hey Jai, here's wishing you get the strength that you'll need to see through these trying times. Take care.

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  40. Hi Jai,

    I wish to offer my condolences . Just visited your Blog today and wish that your granmother gets all the strength she needs in these times. I can understand her situation as I too feel that after my father's demise my mother has lost one part of her existence . The loss of a partner is traumatic and I never realised the value and tragedy of death , till it happened in my family. I hope your grandmother is able to lead the rest of her life in peace and tranquility. I guess I should not have revealed my private thoughts but listening to death of an elder softens me up emotionally.

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  41. Dear Jabberwock, My heartfelt condolences. Your post made me cry! I miss having my grandparents around!!

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