Mumma, today this heartfelt tribute comes from your darling granddaughter, Parul, the stellar performer amongst the family kids, ideally an example to follow kind of girl yet lovingly called बिगड़ी हुई लड़की (spoilt brat) by you. This dedication written by her brought tears to my eyes. It is true that between the earth and sky above, nothing can match a grandma’s and grand child’s love.
“I’ve attempted to write this tribute to you about a dozen times. Each time, I’ve failed miserably in doing justice to penning down something that conveys my feelings in their simplest and truest form. Believe it or not, I even attempted poetry but alas! I have none of your wit or humor. After thinking long and hard, I reached an important realization that has also helped me better understand and come to terms with my grief at not having you around me physically. While I will always be in awe of your indomitable spirit, your sheer will to live, your malleability to people and situations alike, and your ever-beautiful soul, what is most dear to me, and what I will cling onto, most dearly, are the memories that keep you alive in my everyday existence. One of my favorite memories of you is from my graduation ceremony from law school in Bangalore earlier this year. You had made it a point to ask me for the link to the live webcast of the ceremony. You had also ensured that you had it all set up on your iPad well in advance so that you could watch me get my degree from your bedroom in Delhi as your health did not allow you to travel to Bangalore. As I stepped onto the stage, it felt so nice to know that you were watching over me, as always – quietly, from a distance, without any judgment or comment but with utmost love and affection. It is ironical that my most vivid memory of you is from a time when you weren’t even physically present with me, but I’m not too surprised. Being able to make your presence felt from across seas and landmasses has always been your superpower!
Something else that ensures you make frequent appearances in my thoughts is your love for ताश (playing cards). Ever since childhood, I remember looking forward to vacations when we would visit Delhi and you’d introduce us to fascinating new card games. Some of my favorite, in order of complexity, were – पत्ते पे पत्ता (Patte Pe Patta- a card game where each player puts one card on the pile on each turn and the player who deals the second matching card gets to keep all the cards in the pile), ग़ुलाम चोर (Gulam Chor-the one who is left with a Jack at the end of a series of tasks loses and is invariably made fun of!), तीन दो पाँच (Teen-do-panch- a game involving sequences of 3,2 and 5 cards), सात आठ (Saat-Aath- another game involving sequences of 7 and 8 cards) and my most favorite, Bluff (where the one who gets rid of all their cards the fastest, more often than not by employing stoic deceit, wins). Each time I chance upon a deck of cards, whether on display at a curio store in the touristy area of a new city I visit, in the personal kit that airlines sometimes hand out or an old deck gathering dust in a drawer at home, I think of you. I am immediately transported back to those post-lunch ताश sessions when all of us would sit in a circle on the bed, carefully hanging on every word that came out of your mouth, as you explained the rules of a new game to us. More recently I remember being so confused in a curio store in Rio about whether a deck featuring a picture of Christ the Redeemer or one with the Copacabana Beach would be the perfect gift for you from Brazil. And while I still haven’t fully come to terms with the fact that I won’t get to buy cards for you anymore, I’m glad I still have all the good memories to think about, each time I spot the pack of 52 plus two Jokers!”