Grandparents and grandchildren have always shared a special bond. To me my grandparents spell wisdom and love. I did not get a chance to know my paternal grandparents. My paternal grandpa passed away when I was a year old and grandma when I was eleven. And we would see grandma only during vacations. About her, I shall share later. But today I am writing about my maternal grandparents–Koka (grandpa) and Aita (grandma).
What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudolph Giuliani
Since Maa married young, my sister and I were entitled to young maternal grandparents. Since Deta and Koka served the same university, we spent most of our early childhood around Koka and Aita. And my sister was the apple of Koka’s eyes. Since both my maternal uncles married and had kids long after we were grown up, we sisters were the sole claimants to Koka and Aita’s love and affections for a long long time. And I am sure we still hold a special place in their lives.
Aita was quite young, I think around sixteen years, when she married Koka. Koka was already working and was posted in the region where Aita’s family resided. They met at Aita’s cousin’s place, who knew Koka. Koka was an eligible bachelor and showed interest in taking Aita as his bride and things started rolling. They are a set of opposites. Aita is a good singer, dancer and an actress. She loves travelling and would accompany Koka on his official tours. Koka would hardly travel for fun and is paranoid of water. Koka is always feeling a little cold and would have a sheet at his feet on bed all the year around. While Aita bathes a thousand times during the summer and prefers sleeping with a damp cloth on her with the ceiling fan in full speed.
Koka is the second in ten children while Aita is the third in four. So he had always been the responsible one while she was on the mischievous side. But I have known Aita to be a good and understanding wife and sacrificing daughter-in-law. Koka had a string of sisters to be married off and brothers to be educated, and of course a wife and three children to look after. And Aita shared his responsibilities well, making the most of whatever was provided, taking care of the extended family, giving away jewelry ungrudging but still pursuing her hobbies consistently. She loves to cook and feed. I have seen her helping people with an open heart and open hands, sometimes in fact too open. Till we were ten years or so, all our frocks were stitched by Aita. And yes, she is not really fond of unruly and ill-mannered children.
Koka is the most amazing, loving, caring, patient, calm, liberal and forward thinking man I have ever known. As a young man, he had borne the hardships to get his siblings settled and give a good life to his wife and children. He is learned person, have authored several books in his field and started a soil testing laboratory after his retirement as the dean of an university. He is great with children and adults alike. Maa tells us that as a young girl she remembers him helping Aita with the household chores. Whenever any heavy furnishings of the household were to be washed, he would be there. And he is the only man I know who washes his personal clothing himself till date.
I have never seen Koka and Aita fighting or quarreling in the presence of a third person till now. The only time I remember was while playing carom. Koka and my sister were a team while Aita and I were one. We were quite young and they had a argument regarding some coin, and the game was never finished.
The most amazing times spent with them were the warm evenings with load shedding. We would pull out chairs on the lawn with hand fans and spent a great amount of time looking up at the sky. Koka would point out the constellations and show us the milky way. We would play ‘Antakshari’ of songs and places’ names. And sometimes he would teach us sanskrit slokas. Weekends were always spent with them. Sundays were most fun. Waking up to the sounds of ‘Rangoli’ at seven in the morning, followed by ‘Shri Krishna’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Jungle Book’, ‘Duck Tales’ and ‘Tales Spin’ with a breakfast of bread, melted butter and omelets. Then Koka would take us on detour of the vegetable and fruit garden and we would come back to the house laden with our fresh bounty. And Sunday lunches meant mutton curry.
My sister and I had a wonderful childhood, mostly because Koka and Aita were always around. Even Deta says that they had a very positive effect on our upbringing.
Today Koka and Aita are celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary. Even the very thought of it cheers me up. Personally being into the sixth month of marriage, Koka and Aita is a fruitful example to follow. I pray that the Almighty showers health, peace and happiness in their lives and that we would celebrate their union for many many years to come. I love you both very much. And thank you for being there for us, always.
Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~Alex Haley