“Naughty”. That was the reprimand that I heard as I accidentally switched on the table lamp. I was kneeling for the daily prayers and instead of concentrating on the prayers I was obviously more engrossed in the things on the table. After all it was summer vacation and I was in my grandfather’s house to enjoy every minute of it. Prayer seemed too much of a distraction and waste of time. My grandfather was very particular about prayers and no mater what the occasion he would have his daily prayers exactly at 8:00pm. A grandson playing around with the table lamp was not something he accepted during that time. Like he always said, “Play time play and study time study”. True to his word he did have his play time. He cherished the time he spent surrounded by his grandchildren. He would spend lazy afternoons sitting at the dinning table drawing caricatures of politicians much to the amusement of his young observers. He would regale us with the history of our ancestors and occasionally take a dig at my grandmother who was busy making the afternoon coffee.
My grandmother was much more of a silent kind. She would show no outwardly signs of love but you always knew that she loved each and everyone very dearly. She was a veteran at the business of raising kids since she had ten or her own. She believed in frugality and shunned excesses, be it for adults or kids. My sister and my cousin would probably attest to this following the now infamous sulking episode. One afternoon after lunch both of them decided that they were not happy with half a bar of chocolate and that they needed a full bar to be satisfied. My grandmother however thought differently and that ended up in a confrontation. Needless to say that the veteran came out on top in that standoff.
My other grandmother (Dad’s mother) spent a lot more time with us at home. She was with us growing up at different stages of our life. My dearest memory of her has to be her anxiety when I returned from school a good four hours late. She was at the verge of tears and couldn’t contain herself after seeing me. I however was bewildered (and probably laughing) at her anxiety unawares that a boy missing for four hours at the age of six is a little worrisome. “Get away of India” as she would famously call the most revered monument in Bombay still brings a smile on all our faces.
All of them were such an integral part of my growing up. Yet today, years after their passing away, they are but a distant memory. So much has happened and so much has changed since their passing away that I can hardly recollect the details of my time spent with them over the first twenty years of my life.
How quickly memories fade.