It wasn’t until I held that blue furry blanket from under which two large eyes looked at me and locked my heart forever. Two experienced and searching eyes held that little gaze and the two of us were bound in an indomitable bond of love and friendship. Such is the chemistry that flows between the first and third generation ….. grandmother and grandson. He came into my life like the fresh morning breeze and filled my being with vitality and joy.
I remember searching book after book and combing dictionaries for names of newborns. Hours were spent discussing the meanings, spellings and connotations. Sometimes a name was dropped from the list of selected ones simply because one of the family members remembered someone of that name with a not-so-good-reputation or because it was the name of someone’s arch rival during school or college days. Anyhow, a list was finalized with due deliberation and mutual consent of the to-be-chachas, mamoos, khalas and phuppo.
They say ‘Perfect love sometimes does not come until grand children are born.’ It is true because in him I re- discovered the world. The world where fairy tales, fables and rhymes reigned supreme. Where the make belief world of a child is the only reality. He is dear to his parents but to me he is the dearest. I once overheard his mother (my daughter-in-law) saying to someone: ‘In this house there is no concept of maamta, there is only baapta and daadta . She was so correct (I smiled secretly).
(Rhyming with Maamta— mother’s love, baapta and daadta are her way of jokingly expressing father’s and grandmother’s love)
Ayaan, a hebrew name, means a gift of God. He is truly a gift from the Almighty to us. His smiles and chuckles brought joy on our faces, his colic cries drove everyone mad, while a sneeze or hint of cough had us dialing the specialists for appointments.
The first time he picked his head and looked around, his first tooth, his first crawl, his first step, the first word he spoke and the first time he called me are all milestones in my life. With the passage of time, the two of us have become the best of friends. He hides behind me when his mother scolds him for some mischief because, he knows, I am the one he can rely upon for all his due/undue desires. One reason why we get along so well is our common enemy in the house (his mom) who is bent upon disciplining him against all odds, i:e me and my son. I remember once my son said to me, rather hesitatingly, that I was spoiling Ayaan by fulfilling his every plea. The fierce look that I gave my son was enough to get him to recoil and say ‘No! I mean if you train him to earn the ‘sword of honour’ like his taya, and become a good student like me, I don’t mind you spoiling him.’ (I know I spoil him with my favors but to do anything otherwise is beyond my control). I cannot see tears in his eyes (he has a way of welling them in his large, innocent eyes). My heart melts and I immediately attend to whatever he wishes, to which my daughter in law says ‘Mama! Notanki hai aapka pota, and you get carried away by it.’ (Yeah! I know I fall for this ‘notanki’)
He was put in school a little early by my standard. The little one could barely speak. My heart went out to him… my poor baby — how will he manage? I completely forgot that my eldest was also put in school much before the right age because I was due with the third child and had no help at home. But that was different, I try and reason with myself. It was not different I know…. The difference is in me… and in my changed role. Now I see the world through a different lens. I have the patience to read stories to him for hours, I have the time to play snakes and ladders with him and let him win by hook or by crook without enforcing rules of the game, all because I want to see his delight in winning. I cannot bear to disregard his desire to have cheese pizza at odd hours or a Mc Donald’s happy meal for the sake of that silly toy that comes with it. I forego the TV programs I love watching, because he wants to watch Tom & Jerry and Barney.
I feel the passage of time not from my age but from his growth, from his antics and from the delightful aura that surrounds his being, his questions and reactions, his laughter and mischief. One day he was playfully hitting his father when I asked ‘Why are you hitting my son?’
‘Who is your son?’ he asked back in amazement.
‘Your papa, he is my son.’ I smiled at his surprise.
‘Then who am I?’ he asked, bewildered.
‘You are my grandson’
‘No!’ He did not like my explanation. ‘I am my own son.’ He said it so vehemently that we all laughed aloud. He could not digest the fact that he was not my son, but my grandson. In his eyes being a grandson was a lesser relationship than a son.
Ayaan is now seven years old. I have other grand children too. And as I read somewhere and found it true for myself: ‘I have never experienced being madly in love the way most people seem to have been, although it is not something I would miss. Instead I have had an enormous ability to love my children and my grand children.’ The time I spent with Ayaan is the longest and therefore my relationship with him is also different from my other grand children. He now lives with his parents and sister in Singapore and we communicate with each other through formal letters, written in traditional style, not e- mails or skype or telephone.