There’s no questioning it. Everyone needs a bit of pampering. A little love, much adoration 🙂 and even some unquestioned ‘authority’ that leads them to believe ‘they are the boss’. Who better for this role, than a grandparent?
We live miles (and miles!) away from home, but do head back once or twice a year. The bond between child and grandparent is simply beautiful. It does not matter that they have a 60-year-gap between them. It also doesn’t matter that they don’t always understand each other’s accent! Neither does it makes a difference whether they are communicating with each other or simply sitting in amiable silence, watching some crappy TV program.
Kids who receive absolute adoration from the grandparents are ‘blessed’ if you ask me! I think the admiration builds much confidence in them, and it lasts a lifetime. I remember reading these lines somewhere, sometime (but even Google isn’t able to retrieve it for me!): ‘if you have a heard a river in your childhood, it is likely that you will hear it all your life’. That’s the way it is when one is blessed with loving grandparents. I have had the fortune of having one adoring grandmum 🙂 Just thinking of her makes warms the cockles of my heart. Senility will catch up one day,and perhaps turn her into a nit-picking and grumpy lady 🙂 (I’m nearly there myself ;-)) but nevertheless, my love for her is just as unconditional as hers for me 🙂
Why is it that kids are relatively de-stressed with the grandparents around, as compared to the parents? Do we push them too much? Do we want them to be ‘perfect’ (despite not managing it ourselves?!) Or do we use their behaviour as a benchmark of our success as a parent?! Whatever be the reason, in general grandparents seem to share a better rapport with kids than do the parents. Their relationship is quite stress-free, with not much expectation or conditions from either side!
Let me also confess that I am a little envious of people who can leave the kids at the grandparents’ every now and then! Bringing up a child is quite a challenge. I would go so far as to say managing a career is easier than bringing up a child. Yes, every job is difficult, but the task of looking after a child beats them hands down! So if we have grandparents to sneak in and take the pressure off, that, is sheer heaven 🙂
Now that’s another fact that grandparents don’t always want to ‘look after’ the kids as their previous generations did! They enjoy doing this ‘part time’ 😉 but not as a full-time job, and I think they are right! Afterall, they have lived their entire life working really hard to bring us up and provide everything we needed! It ain’t quite fair to expect them to become full-time baby-sitters at this age. I wish more people realised it!! Having grandparents is a luxury that not many can afford!! So the ones that do, add this to your blessings 🙂 🙂
So here’s to all grandparents. No matter how loving/bitchy they are, or how generous/stingy they choose to be. And certainly, irrespective of whether they ‘look after’ our kids or ‘not’. Just ‘being there’ and ‘supporting our children’ is a blessing 🙂 whether we accept it or not.
On a related note, I find it annoying when people say going to India once or twice a year ‘is very lucky’.
Honestly, it is a choice! One chooses to either save money, buy property/jewellery/gadgets/etc and go on exotic holidays around the globe! Or one chooses to save every penny and travel 5000 miles to indulge one’s self in the familiar sights, sounds (read, cacophony!) and smells (er, anyone heard of Onyx?) of the home town. Now that calls for another post altogether!!
So all those lovely folks who say this to me again .. er.. please, please don’t!! Danke 🙂
The Principal of a boys only school. He was jovial, old and respectable. The boys loved him. The parents respected him immensely. He was after all, ‘Reverend Father’.
He was kind to the boys, and insisted on meeting the friends and relatives of the boys. So every fun-fair day, or ‘fancy fete’ day, as it was called in those times, the boys would take their sisters and their friends to show them around the school. Rev. Father would call them into his room. Brightly-lit, spacious room, the shelves respectably lined with thick volumes. The children loved the room. It was, after all, the safe haven that belonged to ‘Reverend Father’.
Rev. Father would always offer the children lollipops. While the boys sat on the chair opposite the huge teak wood table, Rev.Father would call the girl over to his side. One hand would go protectively around the back of the little 6 or 7 year old child, drawing her close to him. The huge table almost hiding her, so her brother/friend could only see her neck and above. Rev.Father would stoop to the child’s level, and ask normal questions very kindly, ‘What is your name, my child?’ ‘What does your daddy do?’. You know, the sort of questions any caring, elderly person would ask!
While in the meanwhile, his right hand would creep up the little child’s thighs, get into her panty, and fiddle away, until the barrage of questions stopped. Usually, the child would remain silent. WHAT DOES A 6 YEAR OLD KNOW OR UNDERSTAND?
* First, the child is taken aback.
* Second, the child is confused.
* Third, the child has no escape!!
Once her turn was over, he would give her more lollipops, and wait serenely for the next child.
So this went on, until one of the kids realised SOMETHING WAS WRONG, and complained to her mother. The mother was SHOCKED. She questioned the other children’s parents. Then, she was FURIOUS.
Reverend Father had molested several little girls who had entered his room. Sadly, some of the boys even KNEW ABOUT IT, and despite that, they went ahead and brought their unsuspecting friends to him.
And then what?
Well, what do you expect? A Bolly-wood style Morcha? A protest or a people’s movement against the sick Rev.Father? A formal complaint against him, after which he was thrown out from his post, or probably even imprisoned and punished?
Ha! HA! HA!
It was best to keep quiet. Nobody would believe it. Nobody would talk about it. He was above all this. It was a respectable colony. A respectable school. A calm and wonderful neighbourhood. All that was not to be sullied. It was best to keep quiet, and avoid the sleazy old man.
He was, afterall, ‘REVEREND FATHER’.
This happened two decades ago.
I wonder, had this happened today, will our reaction be any different?
Will we fight child abuse? Will we take up the issue with other parents, will we protest against such molestors? Will we put any effort to get such perverts punished?
Or will we, as always, simply ‘hush’ it?!!!!
To read more about Child Abuse Awareness, please head over here.
It wasn’t until late December that I found the envelope. It was addressed to no one. It bore the seal of ‘Vrindavan Home for the Aged’. That is how I realised it (perhaps) belonged to my father.
Before you stand on high moral ground and fire me for having sent away my old (and ailing!) Dad to the Home, do try to understand, and if possible, even believe that I truly did not want to send him there. At sixty, he was fit as a fiddle. We used to fight over the TV every evening, and would both finally lose to my son, who decided that Ben Ten was the right programme for us. So we, the boys of the house, would sprawl on the sofas and watched the inane aliens fight gory wars.
I digress. Like I said, the envelope, slightly yellowed and crushed, was addressed to no one in particular. It just bore my address. I assume my Dad had written it for me! Which made me curious, as he was not the sort of person who would write letters! If my memory serves me right, he was particularly not fond of reading or writing. So this was special. I didn’t quite want to open it. The last two months had been rather painful. First, the agony of losing him. Second, the fact that I had left him to die alone. I can never get over it. Ever. And third (perhaps, the most important reason) – I was afraid… of what the letter might contain!!
It was my birthday. In no mood to celebrate, I decided I would open the letter after all…
You know how much I hate to write!
Bang on! This was definitely from Dad!! My lips curved into a smile.
I want to let you know something… its been on my mind ever since you left me.
I stiffened. It was not like I left him! It was HE who decided to leave us. Vidya and I pleaded. So did little Prithvi. But he had made up his mind.
I like this place they call ‘Home’. Its spacious, airy, the nurses take care of me. I have no complaints.
I visited him almost every Saturday. I would take his favourite food. Sometimes, Vidya and Prithvi came along, at other times, they didn’t. Dad would always recognize Prithvi, no matter what! The moment he saw his chubby little grandson, his wizened face would break into a smile. I felt relived that he liked the Home.
But you know… I want to write this before I can forget everything.. before my traitor of memory fails me. Sometimes I cannot even remember your face. At other times, I feel like you are standing right next to me. I know you are there. Its just, I don’t remember who exactly you are .. or at times, who I myself am!! I have to confess that part is a little scary.
So that was why he wrote the letter!! When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it had come as a brutal shock to all of us.
On most days, he was very normal. The same old Dad who steadily picked his nose as he sat in his oversized armchair, watching children play cricket on the street! On other days, he would turn into a complete stranger. He would just stare at the ceiling. At times, he would simply grab the nearest object and smash it into the wall. He would walk down the street, to buy a packet of chicory, and wouldn’t return home until dark, when one of us would go in search of him, only to find him sitting on a broken bench, looking dazed and confused.
Finally it was he who suggested being moved to the Home. We wanted him around. He, however, was adamant. He left a day after Prithvi’s fifth birthday. We had a great party. He joined in the fun. I almost called the Home to cancel the move. But the next morning, he woke very early, bathed, and packed a little holdall with a couple of shirts and bare necessities. He did not give us any opportunity to try and persuade him against going. Before he left that morning, he blessed us with wishes for a ‘long and happy married life’, and said, very simply, and as a matter-of-fact, ‘Tell Prithvi I love him the most!’
When Prithvi returned from school that afternoon, he searched for Dad in every room of the house! And when he didn’t find him there, he cried himself to sleep.
There’s one little person I always seem to remember. A lovely cherubic little boy. Let me try to recall.. Preetham.. or was it Prithvi? Yes, I think it is Prithvi. My darling little angel. He visits me often. I can’t often remember his name, but I know that he is part of my soul.
I fought hard to blink back the tears. Dad wouldn’t be kind to anybody who cried at the drop of a hat!!
So, my dearest, I had better finish this letter quickly, as I might just not remember about it in some time.
Very often, nurses wipe tears rolling off my cheeks. Sometimes, they say ‘tut..tut..’ and walk away, cursing (in a rather filmy style!) my ‘supposedly wicked’ son who they think has left me here.
Little do they know, that these, in fact, are tears of joy.
Joy at a life well lived. This is the happiness of a husband, who found a good and loving wife. The pride of a father, who raised a strong and caring son. And also, the yearning of a grandfather. Whose only (albeit greedy) wish was that he had a few more years to spend with his grandson, frolicking in the park, or sneaking away from the watchful and loving eyes of his Mummy, to lick an ice-cream cone. But then, I’m just being ungrateful.
I could have lived with our children. But you know, much as I hate to boast, I think our son adores me! So does Prithvi. I want them to remember me as their Hero. Not as a senile patient who couldn’t recognize them! No. That wouldn’t work for me.
So, this is my big secret. I want you to know, my dearest, that every time I remember us, and cry, it is only to say that I have lived a very happy life.
I think I will see you soon.
Dad’s last letter. It had not been written for me. Or for Prithvi. But for Mum. I was stunned, at how Dad never let us see how much he missed her. I hoped they were together again.
To me, the letter had a cathartic effect. I don’t know if I can ever stop feeling guilty, but this day, I felt a little better. He knew what he was doing. And he did it not just for me, but also for himself.
I guess he was right afterall. When I think of Dad, I only recall a tall, strong man, who would throw Prithvi up into mid-air and catch him as he fell squealing with delight. I remember him as a level-headed counsellor, who simply declared that every workplace had its share of politics, and it was upto me to handle it or steer clear! Vidya remembers him as a loving father, who would make her a cup of ‘straang filter kaapi’ when she returned home from work every evening.
And Prithvi.. well, he does not remember much of him. When we happen to mention Dad, he perks up, curious to know more about his childhood friend. We cite him examples of how Dad used to pretend to be his Horse and ‘giddy up’ as Prithvi ordered him to! Prithvi chuckles shyly when we mention such incidents.
Often, he walks into Dad’s old room (that has now been converted into a Study) as if looking for something.
Sometimes, I follow him, and find him gazing at a picture of Dad’s. At other times, I find him dozing in the big arm-chair.
Well, whatever it is he is doing (or not doing!), I get the feeling this room is his favourite haunt. He seems happy here.
As for the letter, I placed it back in its envelope, labelled it as ‘First Letter Written’and tucked it far, far away inside my wardrobe. I could perhaps give it to Prithvi when he is grown up enough to be deceived by ‘Success’ manifesting itself in the form of money or fame?! Will it make any sense to him, I wonder…
Or perhaps, I will simply start writing a letter of my own…. hoping that I too, can be a Hero to my son, as Dad is to me.
Posting this on behalf of Baisali Chatterjee, who is in charge of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: Celebrating Brothers & Sisters’ publication.
Publishing house: Westland
Try and state specific episodes as to why you think that the person you are writing about deserves to be in the Chicken soup series.
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Inviting stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: Celebrating Brothers & Sisters
Recipe for a winning “Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul” story:
A Chicken Soup for the Soul® story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are personal and often filled with emotion and drama.
Chicken Soup stories have a beginning, middle and an ending that often closes with a punch, creating emotion rather than simply talking about it. A story that causes tears, laughter, goose bumps or any combination of these. A good story covers the range of human emotions. The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person.
1. Tell an exciting, sad or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Make sure that you introduce the character(s).
2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps (the good kind!) Don’t leave anything out — how did you feel?
3. The story should start with action; it should include a problem, issue or situation. It should include dialogue and the character should express their feelings though the conflict or situation. It should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off.
4. Above all, let it come from your HEART! Your story is important!
1) Stories should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words.
• The Brotherly Bond : about brothers and special moments shared with them; Raksha Bandhan stories, etc.
• Soul Sisters : about sisters and everything they do and mean to us
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• From Other Mothers: stories about that ‘brother/sister’ who may not be related by blood, but by feelings of the heart
• Sibling Rivalry, Sibling Love : stories and observations written by parents/grandparents
• Saying Goodbye: stories about losing a beloved sibling
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‘Beware of Dogs’ is a common signboard in India. This piece of news however, quite shocked me. And not because of the nature of crime per se. But the sheer age of the perpretators. How can boys of age 10 be so violent? What sort of upbringing do they have? In my opinion, its the parents of the boy who need to be punished, more severely than the children themselves! Reports say they were used to watching violence on TV.
Coming to think of it, every programme on every channel these days is inundated with violence.
Take a look at this seemingly innocuous Chota Bheem serial, which is very popular in India. Sonny has been watching this for nearly two weeks now, and you can imagine, why he has suddenly started ‘punching’ us!
Do you notice the amount of violence they are teaching little kids? What does a child know? Good.. bad.. they are all the same. The child only sees the ‘HERO’, Chota Bheem, bashing up another guy, and feeling very proud about it. Little does the child realise that the guy being hit is a ‘villain’ of sorts. So, what is it, that Chota Bheem is teaching children? Go, Bash Em Up!!
Or, this Ben 10 trailer.
The colours, the action… doesn’t it all simply reverberate with violence?!!
It is no wonder, then, that children these days are getting more aggressive and violent, than ever before. This is probably a bit of a lecture… ‘free advice’ if you insist.. but as parents, I think these are some small steps we can take, to make our children better people:
* Controlled TV programmes – I know of mommies who do not allow kids to watch TV at all. I think that’s quite extreme, because TV does teach a lot. Like the Playhouse Disney channels for example. So we could try to ensure our children only watch pleasant cartoons, and nothing violent.
* A vent for energy – Energy not channelised in the proper manner will most certainly cause problems for both the child and the parent. So, go out and kick that ball with your child. Or just take a walk down the road. Or go swimming, or something, that will physically tire out both of you, in a positive manner!
* Reinforce positive behaviour – Let’s practise basic manners (saying our please and thank you’s) and openly appreciate any positive behaviour in our children, so they KNOW that behaving well makes us all happy!
[Okay…End of serious post]
By the way, Sonny has just joined pre-school, and seems to have had his First Crush already!! A certain ‘Miss Vicky’ is the lucky girl 😉 and I can see stars in his eyes every time he mentions her name 😉