I first met Dida when I entered the Bhaduri household as a new bride. Dida is Rajdeep’s paternal grandmother….. my grandmother-in-law. She was this small little lady frail lady who sat in the corner of the room in a white sari……. the first thing that she told me was that “I am going to call you Ria” and Ria I was to her. I loved the name she gave me. She had worn full sleeved blouse and a white saree. She had covered her face with the saree and she would not touch me….. over the years sickness and medicines had reduced the melanin of her skin and she had pink patches on her face and hands and body. She told me that she was afraid that I might not like her as she did not look good. I was so shocked!!! I told her “yeah right!!!I am aishwarya”…. that broke the ice and we were friends. I loved holding her hand and always did that when I was around her…. she did the same.
I love grandmothers. As far as my grandmothers are concerned…… I lost my maternal grandmother before my birth so I had only one grandmother and that too I was not very close to her because I seldom went to Calcutta. Apart from two visits in my childhood and one when I was an adult….. I did not meet her. I always envied Rajdeep in this matter. He not only had both sets of grandparents but also great grand parents. In Rajdeep’s family the women usually lived beyond 100. My paternal grandparents also were in their late nineties when I lost them. Dida was particularly close to Rajdeep because she had contributed to his upbringing in his formative years and she had a lot of tales to tell about him…. some were quite funny!!!
I had got married amidst lot of chaos and sorrow. Rajdeep’s maternal grandfather had expired just days before our wedding. Dida’s was the first person who really smiled at me and the first person who befriended me. I loved her on sight.
I went to see her but not often enough. Though I did not make the mistake I had done with my grandparents…. I made an definite effort to know her. She was really frail since I saw her but she was always active….. she daily read the news paper and pottered around the garden loosening the soil for the plants. She also prayed a lot. She used to sit next to me and tell me tales from her childhood and her marriage to grandfather and her in-laws. She was very sharp and I loved hearing the stories. If I told her anything at a particular time she never forgot that and always got back to me regarding that the next time I met her.
I loved the touch of her hand. She had a touch which I may not be able to put in words but something I loved a lot. If I close my eyes I can re-create the same and I can tell that touch anywhere…… It is different. She used to knit a lot. She always was making something. She told me once that she could not do much counting as her eyes failed her….. so she used to only knit mufflers…….. that too for poor people…… she used to give them away.
One thing that really irritated her was my wearing salwars…. after all I was the wife of her eldest grandson. She used to very gently ask me “Ria you don’t have sarees ???” then again after sometime the same thing……. until I wore it !!! I used to find it very funny!!! When my Ma wanted to get me to do something she used to scream at me !!! but dida got me to do things very diplomatically/very subtly…… and in such a way that I could not refuse. It was very amusing actually!!! I did not have a problem with that…… I always wore sari when I was meeting her…… even though I truly hated it. Somehow I never could refuse anything to her. She was too sweet !!!
This time when I went to Kolkatta she never left my side and insisted on sitting next to me….. all the time holding my hand. Small things that normally people never noticed about me it never passed her. I cant stand heat…… even cant eat or drink anything very hot. Nobody ever noticed that except my family and ofcourse Rajdeep. She had noticed!!! When the others kept asking me to drink up my tea as it was getting cold she immediately told them that i did not drink hot tea. I was quite stunned. I never expected her to remember.
This year she had her younger brothers for bhai phota (bhai dooj). They are also very old in their late eighties. I was totally bereft when it was time to leave this time…. She kept telling me “Ria I dont know if I will be able to see you again”. I told her she was going to because i would come sooner than she thought. When I left her I was crying!!! Actually bawling was more like it. She cared a lot. Not only because I was married to her grandson but also because she had created a special bond with me. But this time she looked so healthy and she had a glow about her and her touch on my hand for the time that I was there to meet her….. I will never in my life forget that.
I lost Dida on the 3rd. Dida left us for heavenly abode on the 3rd of December….. day before yesterday. She was 97. I say heavenly abode because I know that is where she went. I have seen my grandmother in her last years as well. She was very bitter. She was also in her late nineties. My grandfather too what I remember of him was quite bitter in his last years. My Ma says that as you grow older and you are no longer active and feel incapacitated to do things you do want and so you want to graduate to the next level. You feel that you have seen it all and done everything….. nothing holds any more appeal and sickness makes you bitter but not Dida she lived through worst calamities with a smile. She had seen sickness but she was never bitter but she had the capability to look beyond that.
Her death was a shock to me for I expected her to be there forever…. holding my hand. She was loved by one and all. For her life was a constant opportunity to innovate. I have rarely seen so much positivity. I often get depressed and negative. But never her. She had always been so positive. She had lived a full life with her husband, sons and daughters and grandchildren and great grand children. She was a very happy person. I have not seen so many happy people in the world. She was very positive no hang ups in life and an impeccable memory!!! even at that age.
She was a very happy person and loved by all….. sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws, grandchildren and great grand children. I loved her and I will always miss her….. Her death has a created a void in my life that nobody will fill !!!