My maternal grandfather, someone who I secretly admire, a retired civil servant from the prestigious Indian Foreign Service (IFS), entered his early eighties yesterday. I must confess, I had forgotten his special day until my mother asked me whether I had wished him or not. I felt uncomfortable and a sudden sense of guilt engulfed me. Instantly, I grabbed the phone and gave him a buzz, "Happy Birthday, Vade papa!" I beamed.
I could sense the thrill and delight on the other end. We laughed and giggled as we spoke about life in general, enquired about his health and well-being and engaged in a bit of sher-o-shayari before we ended the call. I felt touched and satisfied to have made his day special.
A bit of time travel, and I take myself back to the summers of the late nineties, for it was that time of the year when we drove uphill to Shimla to visit our maternal grandparents. What a gala time we used to have playing Ludo and chess, baking chocolate brownies, reading classics, listening to stories about India's Partition, learning the art of vegetable gardening, and of course being forced into completing our holiday homework! Evenings meant hitting the Mall Road, a promise of being bought candies and chocolates from Gaindamal Hemraj (the store for all purposes) only if we walked from Oak Over (the Himachal CM's official residence).
Then there was the customary visit to Gaiety Theatre, where my sister and I were shoved into the TV room because children below 18 we never allowed, while my parents and grandparents proceeded to the 'green room' for their usual socialising over hot tea and sandwiches.
How time flies, I wonder and confront myself with an appalling question, somewhere in our busy, mundane lives, have we forgotten our grandparents? As this new, young generation finds itself trapped in the cobweb of mechanical lifestyles, the strings of a very special bond seem to weaken. We tend to forget that grandparents are the ones who provide the necessary link between cultural heritage and present day customs. We forget that they are the ones who instilled in us the golden virtues of patience, love and much more. The knowledge they've passed one will last a lifetime.
That patient, unconditional love asks for something in return. Are we ready to give back even a fraction of what we've got from our grandparents? Think about it.