Typically when Desi people picture their grandparents, they imagine them lying down on their beds, or sitting on the couch making dessert for everyone, or taking care of their grandchildren, or even being scolding them.
But I’ve a different image of you, Dadda. The first memory that comes to my mind when I think about you is the conversations we have in the bathroom. I know it sounds weird, but those are the moments I cherish and miss the most.
From my infancy to my childhood, from my adolescence to my adulthood, you were the only grandparent present in all of these phases with me. After my family moved to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates, my mother used to make frequent visits back to see my father while my siblings and I would stay with you. This was the period where I was spoiled by you, and somehow while I was being spoiled, you managed to teach me how to live.
Of course, like most of us, I didn’t realize at the moment that your schooling would stay with me forever, but now when I look back, I don’t think I’d be the person I’m today without your presence.I didn’t realize at the moment that your schooling would stay with me forever. Click To Tweet
As a child whose only true love at the time was ice-cream, I’d strike deals to stay with you when you were alone only if you would give me some money for Checkers (a vanilla and chocolate ice-cream bar). Although you didn’t need me, you would strike that deal with me every time. I always thought I was doing you a favor, but what I didn’t realize back then was that you weren’t just handing me few bucks, but also your invisible-but-irresistible love along with them.
When I grew out of the ice cream phase, I saw you doing things which, as a teenager absorbed in her school life, I didn’t understand. Why was it so important for you to see your children happy even if that meant you had to stay away for them, even if that made you weep at night? I would get mad at you for sacrificing your needs, your happiness, and your life for your family.
And all you would do is give me your toothless smile.
But somehow the sacrifice made you content. I didn’t understand you as a child, but now that I can comprehend your actions a little better, I know how you must have felt. I now know how important it was for you to sacrifice to keep the family intact. I now understand that you’d have done anything for the people you loved even if that meant sacrificing to the point where your happiness didn’t exist anymore: their happiness was your happiness.
Looking back at you smiling, I know why you would just smile and wouldn’t say anything; you knew I’d understand you eventually.
Let’s fast-forward a few years when it was our turn to give back to you. You were completely bedridden and wasn’t able to move at all without any help. We would feed you, bathe you, listen to your stories about the India-Pakistan partition, get scolded by you, but above all the things we would get to spend time with you.We would feed you, bathe you, listen to your stories about the India-Pakistan partition, get scolded by you, but above all the things we would get to spend time with you. Click To Tweet
During this phase of your life, I’d take you to the bathroom. I still remember you would just give me your beautiful smile when I’d come back from school, indicating that you needed to use the bathroom. I don’t know why but those moments in the bathroom were the most intimate moments I’ve ever had with you. Maybe because it was just you and I, and you could be yourself without any fear.
One day you looked at yourself in the mirror, squeezed your cheeks in and said, “Bandarya Lag rahi hon puri” (I look like a monkey now).
You left us almost two years ago, but I can still feel your presence around: when I make a contribution, I see you watching me; when I sacrifice something for someone I love, I can almost see you smiling at me; when I try to patch-up relationships, I see you being proud of me; when I work hard and leave it all to God, I see you praying for me from up there.
I hope you are watching me and are proud of me.
Happy Mother’s Day, Dadda!