This is to honour the memory of my late grandparents. My maternal grandparents passed away when I was 8 years and 10 years old and hardly understood what had happened. My paternal grandfather passed away in February 2020 when I was 15. Over this last weekend, when my parents, my sister and I were visiting our maternal cousins in Malad, Mumbai, we talked about ‘it’. To be honest, everybody else was talking, and I was only nodding and listening. Why? Because I was the only person in that house who had only a few instances in her mind about her maternal grandparents that wouldn’t even count as memories. I hardly remember them. I know their faces from pictures, but I have no visual memory. Their voice is in my head. But with time, it is fading away. And it hurts so much. I cannot put it into words. The other day, when my girlfriends were talking about how strict their grandmas are, I just said ‘yes, maybe my grandma would be like that too. I don’t know.’
And when these girls talk about how much they love their grandparents no matter what, that they often meet with them and tell them stories about school and laugh with them, it just makes me feel so lonely. In some part of my heart, it hurts so much. I miss them. I miss them so much. And I wish they could be here. Last year, my paternal grandpa shifted here to treat his health. And I had my 10th grade. And a lot of health issues myself, too. But somehow, we got through it all, smiling. And then I outdid myself when the results came in September 2020. And some of my classmates had to hear some serious scolding from their grandparents while others were being praised. It just showed that all of their grandparents cared about them. But you know, my grandparents never got a chance to show that, because they aren’t here. They aren’t here to tell me I did so well, that they’re proud of me, or even just scold me, telling me I could’ve done better. I would be ready to take all of it. I just wish they were here.
So, when my cousins, my sister and I were talking, they were telling us about Nana and Nani (maternal grandparents). My Nana was the chairperson of the society committee. And he was such a respectable man. My cousins told me that everyone else would argue and fight during the meetings and in the end, they would look to my Nana, who would have the final word which would be accepted by all. And actually, his last word was always right. And about Nani, my cousins told me that she would have her sarees dried in the hot sun and then ironed to perfection. Then she would drape them impeccably. And then when Nana Nani would go out together everywhere, people would look up to them and respect them and give their highest regards. Nana and Nani were big on cleanliness and learning things the right way, and basically yes, they were kind of strict. But that’s what made them different. They taught everyone else the most integral values of their lives. And since I was the youngest, I’m pretty sure they must’ve only showered all their love on me.
At least I remember that my Mama (maternal uncle) did that for sure. We lost him to health problems. I was 12 years old when it happened. But I remember his face, and his voice. I remember that he used to call me his ‘takiya’ (pillow) because he used to keep his head on my lap and use it as a pillow and pretend to sleep. He used to come in the evening from work and after getting freshened up, that’s the first thing he used to want to do. And I would laugh and push him away. Now it feels like I pushed him away forever.
When Baba (paternal grandfather) was here along with Dadi (paternal grandmother), we cut a cake for his birthday on the 8th of January 2020. We took some pictures, laughed and talked and spent the evening together. He passed away unexpectedly on 1st February. So, the last time I saw him when he was alive was almost a month before it happened and I never got a chance to say goodbye. Baba and Dadi lived at my native place, i.e., Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, where Dadi still lives. So, our visits to meet them were only once a year. And we always went to Bilaspur during Diwali. It was our tradition. We would celebrate all the five days of Diwali together, travel around the neighbourhood to see the ‘lighting’ and just pray with each other and for each other. And this time in 2020, for the very first time, we had a Diwali without Baba. It felt so different. It just didn’t feel right. I don’t think it will ever feel right again.
And I just want to end by saying that yes, these people have left empty places in my heart that I will never be able to fill. That is the truth, and I will not sugar-coat it. I will remember them and cry like I did two days ago at 3 am in the morning. When I will have cried my heart out, I will remember that they’re all watching me from up above, and they’re a little far away but they will still always, always be with me
You left too soon, Left me all alone. The rest of the family is there to keep me company, But no one can take your place. Your little girl can grow up all she wants, But you will always be her first love and that’s an epiphany. I can feel it in my heart, And I miss you so dearly. Somehow, I wish you could come back, But one day, I’ll come to you. And even though leaving this earth behind would be kind of sad, I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Because then I would be able to tell you that I love you.