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Grandparents are personified meaning of ‘unconditional love’. Most of us cannot imagine our childhood without grandparental love and their roles in making our childhood cherishable. Only people who could scold our parents and tell them to be nicer to us, not pressurize us for studies, or let us be, were our grandparents. I consider my kids (Sara, 8 and Samaira, 2) very fortunate to have always stayed in the close vicinity of my parents since they were born. The elder one is best friends with her ‘nani’, my mother, and younger one with her ‘nanu’. Younger one’s bond with my father was incredibly strong.
My two year old toddler would open her eyes in the arms of her ‘nanu’, a retired senior bank official who got a chance to be a kid only after his retirement (whole life obviously was busy making a living from a very early age, raising kids and dealing with numerous responsibilities). The duo would jump up and down, make the house a mayhem, much to the dismay of my mom. My little toddler would be a regular, sometimes undesirable part of her nanu’s daily chores. Whatever he would do, a pair of naughty eyes would follow him – even waiting right outside the bathroom for her nanu to get ready daily (and while waiting, knocking 5 times to check what he was doing in there). They would eat together, play together, go for park strolls, meet friends, watch TV, walk in rains, daily series of selfies and sometimes doing sweet nothings.. just lying down with each other. They were self-proclaimed best friends. I had never seen my father laugh and enjoy so much and everyday thanked Samaira to have brought so much of meaning to his life. They made a world of their own where everyone was welcome but not allowed to stay beyond an hour.
One fateful night, when her ‘nanu’ fell a ‘little’ unwell, she couldn’t sleep either. Early morning, my dad left us all for his soul’s onward journey with absolutely no preparedness in our minds, for he was a healthy body and a happy soul. It was shattering for us to see him go so soon and so unexpectedly. I lost my father. My mother lost her husband. But my little one lost her entire world. The grief stricken family would have only coped with time, but I really had no time to mourn with two kids wondering how dramatically lives had changed for everyone in one hour. The elder one knew much more about life and death than what I expected. She dealt with it at ease – her reconciliation came faster, being a more practical child. She even became a strong support for my mother. The 2 year old could not understand where her ‘nanu’ was. She refused to believe that he could go somewhere without telling her. She wasn’t eating, wasn’t talking to anyone, looked up to us in hope of getting an answer that she could understand. She would ask everyone where her nanu was. Her questions wouldn’t stop – why has he not taken his phone, was he eating, could she talk to him and so on. I was adamant that I will tell her nothing but the truth. As a mother of ‘today’, I wanted my child to be strong and ‘deal’ with the situation. I started reading about how to deal with toddlers in event of a death in the family. We tried everything that the psychologists mentioned as a solution – took her out, kept her busy, made the atmosphere light, reinstated laughter at home, did all that ‘nanu’ did every day to fill his shoes. But nothing helped. No one could be ‘him’. The stories of ‘nanu’ becoming a star did not help. Shining up from the sky did not help.
I was shattered.
Once a charming little girl, had become a quiet, extremely quiet baby, with no demand whatsoever. It was very disheartening to see her like that. I wanted my little girl back, as lively and cheerful as she was with her nanu. One fine day, I thought of talking to her about nanu as if nothing happened and we as a family, brought him in our conversations, which we till then had no courage of. Much to my surprise, for the first time, she showed interest in talking to us after a long time. Slowly and gradually, papa became a regular part of our conversations – what he used to do, what he liked to eat, how he talked etc etc. She got better – was at a sudden ease when she perhaps realized that even if she couldn’t have him around, he was very much there with us – in our conversations. We had not forgotten her nanu. Talking about papa, not only helped her, but helped all of us to deal with our loss better. I finally told her one day that he has gone to get ’blessings’ for her and will be back when she grows up (as much as I hated myself for lying to her, for now, I wanted her to resume her original self – our bubbly little naughty sweetheart). It actually turned the situation. She believed in it. Everytime, she would be happy, she would believe that her nanu is sending happiness and blessings to her. This happens till today.