I have been staying at my daughter, Mukta’s place for the last 3 weeks as I am between houses (the old one having lost its fittings, ACs etc. and the new one yet to be completed – more of that later). Since I retired and moved to Gurgaon almost 3 years ago, I have been coming and going regularly, but have stayed overnight only occasionally at her place. The children often used to ask as I had dinner with them “Has Nani come for night stay?” and now that I am here for the last many nights, I have become part of the household.
I am sharing a room with Udai, who is a gentle, sensitive and bright young fellow with tons of curiosity. I have been kept informed of all the wonderful characters in the books he reads – the antics of Asterix and Tin Tin being his favorites. I have to dig into my resources to answer the many questions he has. I have to ration his time on my iPad, in case, Dragonvale (current favorite game) becomes an obsession. He also thinks that i can don boxing gloves and spar with him and play corridor cricket, too! He and I have always had a special bond. Aadyaa, all of 4, is a young lady with a willful bent of mind. She needs to get her way, and her attitude can change from minute to minute, depending on whether you are giving in to her or opposing her. The two are a study in contrasts.
It is wonderful to be a grandparent ….. I don’t go with the argument that ‘you enjoy your grandchildren more than your children’ because anxieties and responsibilities of parenting are not there with grand-parenting. This is probably because I never felt that parenting was a source of any anxiety. As for the sense of responsibility, it extended to ensuring that I was always honest with my child and about my child, and that she should grow up with a strong commitment to honesty. As a parent, I never worried about how tall my daughter would grow to be, what she will become, who she will marry or about amassing the bank balance for capitation fees or a large dowry! Of course, it was a different time and I was probably also a little foolish regarding this! However, parenting happened at a time in life, when there were the pressures of a job and the demands of the routine chores of living. The time and space for ‘enjoying’ your child was curtailed ….. but that really had little impact on our relationships.
I have been lucky that Mukta and Rahul opted to return to India from the US, where they, like so many young people had gone to study. They are far more committed and hands-on parents than we were and will do everything to ensure the future for these children. However, I cannot help having the anxieties for their future, which i never had as a parent. Life has become so much more complex that it is not just the concerns for the kind of world they will grow up into. It is the concern and fear that, bringing up children today, with that same strong commitment to honesty may not be adequate for the world they will face. The values and ethics of human interaction are changing so rapidly, that the norms for every day interactions seem unrecognizable. But one has to be optimistic and believe that the positive forces will counteract the negative ones and ultimately (at some point of time) ‘good will conquer evil” – as is the moral of the myriad mythological stories that Aadyaa loves to hear. As a grandparent, i hope that i will be able to impart not only the commitment to honesty, but also the optimism and hope that will make them equipped to face the world of tomorrow.