1. My Grandparents
My parents have always lived with my grandparents and hence, I was raised mostly in their tender care.
My Grandpa took me out every evening at the Railway Station where we watched trains go by, while I ate the chivda in my tiffin. He inculcated the habit of reading in me, as I always mimicked him reading the newspaper or the novels (from the town library, which was established by my great Grandfather). He used to pickup and drop me to school on our Kinetic Honda, even in his 70s. During our short trips to the school, he used to tell me interesting stories, facts about the WWI & WWII (which he had witnessed) and other such trivia. Till this day, when I go home, he asks about who I am reading and discusses the ongoing news stories. He even knows what Twitter is, at the age of 92!
My Grandma fed me the most healthiest meals, while diverting my attention to the moon – as I was a very fussy eater. She told me all the stories of our Puranas – The Ramayana, The Mahabharata and even the Bhagwat. She is the epitome of contentment and has taught me to be happy under any circumstances. She has even been strict to me, when Mummy could not. On the other hand, she always rescued me from Mummy’s reprimands. She is a friend to me now that I am grown up. We watched movies together…old and new, Hindi and English. She has been my silent guiding light all these years.
My maternal Grandpa and Grandma were a decade and a half older than my paternal grandparents. But even they have left a lasting impression on my personality as a whole. I do not remember my Grandma much, but she was a living repository of old folk songs. She had a song for every small occasion. She was ever smiling. Her English was impeccable. Grandpa was a doctor and the most gregarious personality I have ever come across. He absorbed the most unpleasant shocks with grace and lived each day to the fullest. We were spoilt bad with the season’s best mangoes when we went to Nanihal. They taught me that life is a celebration.
I am blessed to have Grandparents hale and hearty throughout my childhood.
And a special mention to my paternal great Grandmother – she used to tell me – ” Don’t give up on education because you are a girl. Become a doctor, or an engineer.” Born in 1905, she was a progressive lady and had an outlook far wider than her times. I was 10 when she passed away, but not before she shaped my tiny mind.
2. Supportive and understanding parents
With 3 elders around to care for me, you’d figure they didn’t have to do much to raise me. But that did not keep them from lending their unique touches to my personality.
My Mom has always been in the background – taking my daily homework and keeping me focussed enough on my studies. She is the rock of our family. I have never given her enough credit, but she is the one who has taught me to keep my cool when the world is falling apart.
My Dad has always encouraged me in the quirkiest things I wanted to do – like planning to watch a ’99 solar eclipse in ’93 and actually doing so when the day came! You might think it’s not a big deal, but it is. Particularly because it wasn’t the Internet age yet and being in a small town, it was quite difficult to get the glasses to watch it. He went all the way to get a tinted glass cut from a large sheet at the local furniture shop, to keep an off-hand promise he had made 6 years back.
They let me paint my room, they let me and my friends DJ party at home in junior college, they let me keep pets. I could discuss anything under the sun with them.
And they knew when to let go!
After I went to college, they have never tried to keep excessive tabs on me.
3. Wonderful childhood
I had the best school ever and the best teachers ever and the best playmates ever. Our school went from a 2 room Kindergarten, to a former law court and finally to an owned building. Out batch has seen our school building being built. When we were in Senior Kg., we would be taken from the current building (law court) to the new building when it was just a skeleton. We’d be allowed to play for an hour or so and then head back. We moved to the new building in 1st Std. If I have my basics clear in languages, maths, science, history and other stuff, I have my teachers to thank for it.
They raised us like their own children and knew what each of us was up to!
I never felt that I was anything less than the city kids, thanks to my teachers.
It so happens sometimes that school time was so good, nothing extraordinary that happens now measures up to the magical days that were.
A big part of my childhood is the time spent with the younger sibling. When he was a baby, I watched out for him and he was in awe of his big sister. (At least that’s what I think.) Later,we fought, we hated each other and then made up for our fights. We had each other’s back when it mattered. I may have been sort of a bully to him in the those years, but that hopefully did not impact our sibling bond. He graciously included me in his gully cricket matches and humours me still, when I ask him to play a few overs with me.
He’s taught me to share and to be responsible.
If not for him, my childhood would not have been as wonderful as it was.
4. My husband
He’s the biggest surprise of my life. We were class-mates, who connected half-a-decade after school and the rest is history. I am the most ‘me’ when I am around him. He’s a dreamer like me and unlike me, he works on them. He keeps me grounded when I get over-confident and motivates me when I feel I have under-achieved.
The smile in his eyes is all I need, to know that life is beautiful.
5. My brain
Don’t look at me like that! If not for my brain, which has been shaped and nurtured by such insightful, loving, and knowledgeable people, how would I have enjoyed life? I am thankful that I am sane enough and that my dear brain makes my own company enjoyable to me. I am never bored when alone. I can just think of an interesting subject (day dream) and my loneliness vanishes. I am not schizophrenic, in case you are wondering. It aches to learn new things, grasps new concepts easily and goes into zero when I want it to. I hope my brain lasts till the lifetime and I don’t catch Alzheimer’s anytime soon.