Quality time: Bridging an 80-year gap with my great-granddaughter
At bedtime we told each other stories, she narrating hers in English with appropriate gestures and facial expressions. These were stories which she had read or heard at school.Updated: Oct 21, 2018 08:44 IST
My great-granddaughter Amaira is four; I am 84. She was born in a city and lives in the city beautiful. Visiting my wife’s village Dhamot recently for a week’s holiday was her first ‘rural’ experience.
My mother-in-law had built a house on an eight-kanal plot in 1972 in the hope that her only daughter’s progeny would spend their holidays there. Amaira was thrilled to know that the house with a front lawn and an orchard at the back was built by her nani’s nani (great-grandmother) whose photograph adorned the main bedroom.
Amaira attends Strawberry Fields School in Chandigarh and mostly speaks English. I taught her a few words of Punjabi, telling her that I was her par-nana (great-grandfather) and the bird with beautiful feathers that sat on the parapet was a mor (peacock). She also learnt that Chandigarh was a shehar (city)and Dhamot a pind ( village).
During her visit, Amaira loved watching birds, butterflies, riding a tricycle on the paved paths, crayoning sights from observation or imagination on a newly-built wall that had been plastered but not yet painted. She also made her mother take our photograph (she and I) standing beside her creation.
The photograph, I hope, will preserve the memory of this happy holiday for her children and grandchildren. At bedtime we told each other stories, she narrating hers in English with appropriate gestures and facial expressions. These were stories which she had read or heard at school.
I narrated in Punjabi the folktales I had heard from my grandmother as a child. She was very amused to hear stories of fairies, demons, sparrows, crows, and lions and learn more words in Punjabi.
I taught her a new game. She would extend her hand and I would draw circles on her palm with my finger and sing ‘kor kanday choohey landay (prickly thorns, tailless rats)’ and gradually move my finger up her arm and tickle her, which made her laugh uproariously.Then she made me extend my hand and played the game till laughter brought tears to our eyes.
It was a beautiful bonding, linking seven generations of my family, bridging the 80-year gap between us. Despite wanting a longer holiday, Amaira had to return to Chandigarh because of her school.
As we parted, she hugged me and said, ‘Par nana we should celebrate Diwali in this village.”
I promised we would do so.
(The writer is a Ludhiana-based retired professor of English and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
First Published: Oct 21, 2018 08:43 IST