Sunday, November 9, 2014


This post is dedicated to Dadiji.
Well actually, she is my husband's grandmother whom I have adopted as my own.
And today is her 95th birthday!
We wished her a very happy birthday on the phone this morning, and she managed to do what she does each time I get in touch with her..... she infused me with life.She laughed and accepted our wishes. She mentioned that these days she was enjoying the company of her newest great-grandson, "Main toh lalla khila rahi hoon".
Even before I got married and became a part of the family, Dadiji was someone whom I admired. White starched sari, silver white long hair, a friendly welcoming smile.
Once I got married, I heard from Sharad how Dadiji always spoke about getting a fair bride for her first grandson. But never did she let me feel that my dark skin came in her way of accepting me as a fitful bride for her precious grandson. She was forthright when the need arose and was loving at most other times.I remember the time when she visited us at the birth of our first-born and very plainly told me that she did not like the loose khadi kurtas that I wore. She evoked such respect in me that I started wearing something else, even though I was not entirely comfortable in it. At the same time, she aided me in preparing a simple meal of dal-chaval, just so that she could complete the ritual of 'roti-karai' and give me a token gift for it, two years after my marriage.
Dadiji came and stayed with us for a day or two whenever she was in Delhi. She made an instant connection with our two-year old son, making him laugh at the sound of 'Happoo'. He ended up calling her 'Happoo Dadi'. She often brought wooden toys for him which were very different from the gifts that he usually got. A small lattoo that she gave him was treasured right through his school and college years. When our daughter was born, Dadiji landed up at our doorstep unannounced, with her heavy steel 'baxa' and just a slip of paper with our address on it.
We got a peek into the life that Dadiji led when we visited her in Varanasi. She had made a life for herself in the Theosophical Society Of India campus. At age 80, she lived independently, a working woman who was in charge of a lot of things, including the kitchens, in the campus. She proudly took us around and introduced us to the people she had adopted as family. She lived frugally and simply but found contentment in her packed days.
Dadiji made a special effort to travel alone by train and visit us whenever we invited her. She came to the 'Griha Pravesh' ceremony of our new house and stayed with us for a couple of days once we had moved in. I was spending the whole day at my new job and felt uneasy about leaving Dadiji alone at home all day. But she reassured me that she would be fine and in fact took on the responsibility of preparing lunch for the children too. Being a working woman all her life, she could completely relate to my travails.
Dadiji came from a large well-educated family of Etawah. Her cousin brother had taken part in the freedom struggle and was closely associated with Gandhiji. Her father, contrary to the times, made sure to educate his daughters. Dadiji had learnt swimming and horse-riding in her growing up years. She got married to the educated son of a zamindar family. She was supported by her husband to study further,post-marriage and post-children. She home-schooled her children in the initial years, taking care to run the house with a tight hand to make both ends meet. She herself taught in a girl's intermediate college. After her retirement, she refused to settle down with either of her children, choosing to live independently in Varanasi. She stayed there for nearly 25 years, relenting to stay with Chachaji only when she broke her hip bone and needed to be looked after.
I have formed a strong bond with Dadiji over the years. She always inspires me to stretch myself and give my best to whatever I am doing. She motivates me to remain active, physically and mentally, so that I too can be such a "Cool great-grand-mom". Her quest for knowledge is addictive. She takes time to read and understand the news items, wanting to know more about things that are not a part of her reality. She discusses topics with passion. She shows child-like fascination for the present day mobile phones and their features. Technology amazes her and she often says, "Yeh hamare time main nahin tha. Nahin toh seekh lete". Each time I drive her around town,she tells me, "Hamare pitaji dekh kar khush hote ki parivar ki beti gaadi chala rahi hai. Woh hamesha kehte the ki ladkiyon ko sab kuch aana chahiye".She treats me like a daughter and is completely open to hearing about the shortfalls of her grandson. In fact, she goes a step further and reprimands him when he is being unfair to me. We talk on different topics and, despite her failing memory, she is able to give me another perspective to my thoughts and opinions.
Of late she has been keen on seeing her first great-grandson, our son, married. When we let her know that these days youngsters got married late in life, she told me two things. Firstly, that I should set a deadline, say around 30 years, by which time he should have made up his mind. Secondly that he should agree to marry a person even though he may like her only 80%, because there is no such thing as a perfect spouse.
Hats Off to you Dadiji.
What words of wisdom for the present generation.
You really are a treasure.
I love you Dadiji.


  1. Reposting this write up in memory of Dadiji.
    She passed away peacefully on 31st May 2015.

  2. Reposting this write up in memory of Dadiji.
    She passed away peacefully on 31st May 2015.