This story is based on a personal experience.
She was at the airport, waiting for the boarding call for her flight which had been delayed by two hours due to bad weather or in more simple terms; fog. It was a bad idea to travel so early on a foggy January morning from the Delhi International Airport.
The sound of a child giggling with glee caught her attention. She watched, a smile forming around her lips as a small girl; maybe just two or three years old hid behind a flower pot as her grandfather pretended that he could not see her. Every step he made towards her made her giggle even louder. Eventually he caught her, and swung her up on his shoulders.
Both walked away with serene smiles on their faces.
She smiled wistfully…and sighed. Her mind sent her 19 years back in time.
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“Mama, what’s wrong?”
The little girl looked at her mother, puzzled to see her crying. She knew something was terribly wrong…but what was it? And who were all these strange people in her house? She clung to her mother’s dupatta, as she always did when she was scared.
“Nothing’s wrong.”
Her mother gave her a watery smile & stroked her hair, “Come, it’s time to sleep.”
She gladly climbed into her mother’s arms.
“Mama! Where’s Darji?”
“He’s sleeping. Come now, go to sleep.”
She was determined not to sleep…but eventually she felt sleep engulf her in the rocking motion of her mother’s arms.
The boarding call announcement awoke her from her reverie; she wiped a stray tear away & proceeded towards the exit.
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I loved my maternal grandfather a lot. I still do. All my childhood memories circulate around him. Nanaji, or “Darji” as we called him, was loved by one and all. As my father was posted in Sri Lanka on a UN peace keeping mission; my mother & I were staying with him. I can still feel the joy I felt when I was with him…even now. It is so strong, this feeling; i can’t explain it.
Vague memories of how he used to pick me up from my school (nursery) in his white ambassador car, how I used to insist on sleeping with him every night and how I would sit next to him during lunch time cross my mind every time I see a scene as described above.
My Nani says that Darji and I shared a special bond. He would never say no to me. He was always willing to play with me. Apparently, he would give me sweets on the sly so that my mother would not find out.
According to her, when Darji was very unwell; I refused to eat anything unless I was allowed to eat in his room. If anyone tried to stop me; I would not eat a bite. Ultimately; I ended up having my own way. I spent a lot of time in his room, eating my lunch/dinner there and chatting with him nineteen to the dozen. I hope I didn’t tire him too much with my chatter!
Darji’s death left a void in my heart – a feeling of despair and sadness which still hasn’t gone. The fact that he wasn’t there anymore is the most prominent childhood memory I have…and one of the earliest.
They say that some people never leave you – even when they have gone. He is one of them. His memory will forever be cherished & treasured.
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