And then life takes over

And then life takes over

Baba – Dadi

“Di, do you remember the year Dadi passed away?”

A text notification suddenly lit up the screen of my otherwise quiet phone. It was my brother with that one question he wanted to ask. I was on my way to work that morning. Sitting in a cab and watching people rush to their destinations, this question absorbed me into multiple thoughts and loops.

“Why?”

“Because a lot changed after her death.” Another text followed.

He was right.

My grandfather left the world before my grandmother. She was unwell and needed care. She was the one who was dependent on us but he left us and she stayed back with all the mental and physical pain that she couldn’t share with us.

For as long as she could, she only took care of her family.  She was a wonderful cook. In days when there were no cooking shows, her recipes were a hit amongst many in the extended family. I still use her fish recipe. My chachis, buas and Mum learnt her cooking style and she lives in the food we all cherish. A firm believer in God and one who wouldn’t miss her daily prayers and bhajans, she was what faith looked like. At least to my eyes.

He was right. A lot changed after her death.

The charm of visiting the city where my grandparents lived died. My father’s youngest brother who tended to Dadi in her last years, left for Mumbai to make a career for himself and to bring up his son. I got busy with my engineering and hostel life. My brother turned into an atheist. “If God couldn’t take care of the people who were his staunch followers, why should I depend on Him?”. He had made up his mind.

The many memories of our growing up years were bundled up in big suitcases. There were tears but time moved on. Slowly, her temple transformed. There was a new marble slab and new garlands for all idols in the temple. The diyas and the thaals were polished and cleaned up. Her room was redone and made available for cousins who were growing up and needed a room to study.

All right things to do.

Those suitcases of memories occupy further corners of our hearts. A faded photograph somewhere tucked in the temple and a few family photographs on the walls is how we all end up. Yes, there are flashes of those happy days spent together but life takes over everything else. The daily humdrum and the running around our own homes. Getting food on the table every day forces us into routines that we don’t think much about.

Until a text message pops up on a morning taking us back to the days when we were kids and grand parents were around. A day when the traffic doesn’t bother and the time on road is better than answering mails or meeting folks at desk. It was one such day.


Writing for the non-fiction grid at Yeah Write #357 this week.

43 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    H.G. Wells once said that something having life can assimilate other matter into themselves and make it a part of their own. What he meant was eating & converting it into body fluid – muscle, protein, fat, whatever.

    But I like to believe, that same happens with our past experiences, past lifestyle, too. It becomes a part of us. Memory only keeps it in a ready reckoner folder and brings forth on such occasions when triggered (as done by your brother) but the real action has already taken place. Those past events frame us, mould us and the cast is thus set in such a way that all these events in life – big or small tend to make the person one is right now. And this is a never ending process. Today’s events, likewise, frame our tomorrow.

    Life doesn’t take over. Life adds it to the cart and keeps on adding.

    What amuses me is that in search of those old nostalgic moments we go back to visit those places – We expect to find something that was there when we too were – grandfather’s revolving bookstand, guava trees, granny’s porch, oversized pickle jars, first school with just one floor, hostel compound. But then they have changed to a completely different look and new lives have settled in with their new things. New memories for new people are getting made. We look at those walls and try to recollect the position of furniture or old radio, which was there when it touched our lives. But only walls remind what the room was. Finally it all is within us now and nowhere else.

  2. I also love the suitcase metaphor. Well done. Your Dadi is beautiful and she would be proud of you.

  3. Amy Bee says:

    Lovely. I enjoy the idea of memories packing up suitcases and moving around, ever-moving farther from their home of the heart and mind.

  4. Michelle H says:

    This was a lovely piece. I could feel your love for Dadi but it wasn’t maudlin. I understand that the text was the catalyst for the piece but I wanted it to have more connection to what came next. Thank you for sharing these memories.

  5. Margaret says:

    This is a lovely tribute to her legacy, all of you and your love for her.

  6. MM Schreier says:

    Such a bittersweet post. I love the image of memories bundled up in suitcases. The best part of that is sure, perhaps they get dusty, but we can open them up again and sift through the contents. Three of my four grandparents have passed, so this touched me, making open up my own suitcases!

  7. BADRI NATH says:


    लेती नहीं दवाई मम्मी ,
    जोड़े पाई-पाई मम्मी ।
    दुःख थे पर्वत, राई मम्मी,
    हारी नहीं लड़ाई मम्मी ।
    इस दुनियां में सब मैले हैं,
    किस दुनियां से आई मम्मी ।
    दुनिया के सब रिश्ते ठंडे,
    गरमागर्म रजाई मम्मी ।
    जब भी कोई रिश्ता उधड़े,
    करती है तुरपाई मम्मी ।
    बाबू जी तनख़ा लाये बस,
    लेकिन बरक़त लाई मम्मी ।
    बाबूजी थे सख्त मगर ,
    माखन और मलाई मम्मी ।
    बाबूजी के पाँव दबा कर
    सब तीरथ हो आई मम्मी ।
    नाम सभी हैं गुड़ से मीठे,
    मां जी, मैया, माई, मम्मी ।
    सभी साड़ियाँ छीज गई थीं,
    मगर नहीं कह पाई मम्मी ।
    मम्मी से थोड़ी – थोड़ी,
    सबने रोज़ चुराई मम्मी ।
    घर में चूल्हे मत बाँटो रे,
    देती रही दुहाई मम्मी ।
    बाबूजी बीमार पड़े जब,
    साथ-साथ मुरझाई मम्मी ।
    रोती है लेकिन छुप-छुप कर,
    बड़े सब्र की जाई मम्मी ।
    लड़ते-लड़ते, सहते-सहते,
    रह गई एक तिहाई मम्मी ।
    बेटी की ससुराल रहे खुश,
    सब ज़ेवर दे आई मम्मी ।
    मम्मी से घर, घर लगता है,
    घर में घुली, समाई मम्मी ।
    बेटे की कुर्सी है ऊँची,
    पर उसकी ऊँचाई मम्मी ।
    दर्द बड़ा हो या छोटा हो,
    याद हमेशा आई मम्मी ।
    घर के शगुन सभी मम्मी से,
    है घर की शहनाई मम्मी ।
    सभी पराये हो जाते हैं,
    होती नहीं पराई मम्मी ।
    -गुलज़ार

  8. This is such a heartfelt post and stellar writing too! My paternal grandparents passed away when I was very young. I don’t remember much but still see them through the eyes of my Dad and Buas. Both Dadaji and Dadi were beautiful singers and that was passed onto their children and to also our generation. We remember them thorough their bhajans and ghazals. Wherever the family meets, we always sing those 3-4 songs.

    Reading this, made me really emotional. I am very close to my Nana Nani, and everyday I pray for their health. I know what is to come, and that it is inevitable, but I don’t know how I’ll deal with it. They are my biggest strength and cheerleaders.

    Beautiful one, Parul!
    Aditi Kaushiva recently posted…In Photos: Liverpool & Its Magnificent Churches #AditisPenMy Profile

  9. G Angela says:

    Just loved reading this post Parul, brought memories of my grandmother too, a hardworking lady, a good cook and lived independently for a very long time; and I used to accompany her to the pension office every month, as she used to collect the pension and treat me with a biryani and wanted to seem me grow up, as I was still a child, she died leaving her huge house to my mother… and after my dad’s death my mother couldn’t maintain the house, she was at the mercy of my brothers and died heart broken…. I felt lost, inadequate and helpless when I heard the news of my mom.. finally its only memories and yes I do miss both my grandma and my maa..

  10. Thanks for sharing, Parul. I guess most of us have these sort of memories, and sometimes it’s good to take them out and remember the precious moments. When Goodness and Mercy Follow

  11. BADRI NATH says:

    घर में कितना घर बचा है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद
    माँ गई तो क्या गया है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद।
    उसका छूना ही दवा है
    राज़ अब जाकर खुला
    उसका होना ही दुआ है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद।
    साथ मानो गुम गया सारा
    रसोई का तिलिस्म
    भूख रोटी स्वाद क्या है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद।
    जब भी चलता था तो जल्दी
    लौटना कहती थी माँ
    लौटने में क्या छिपा है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद।
    एक थपकी एक चुंबन
    एक आंचल एक प्यार
    एक लोरी लापता है
    हमने जाना उसके बाद।
    …..सुशील सिद्धार्थ

  12. Shilpa Gupte says:

    That was so touching, Parul…the memories of our grandparents, our childhood, our life from the past is what keeps us going in life, what helps us survive the chaos called Life!

  13. When we were kids every winter vacation we would go to my Nani’s place. For one whole month, I used to spend all my time with her. But then I grew up and left for engineering and then I moved further away to make a career. In all this, I lost the time to see her before she died. I can never forgive myself for that. She loved me so much and I loved her so much but in the quest of god knows what, I missed saying goodbye to her…hmm..

    A very touching post, Parul

  14. This post is so heart warming, had teary read.

  15. Debbie D. says:

    Such a touching story about your grandparents and how they affected your life, Parul. “Time waits for no one”, as the saying goes, but it is nice to revisit the past once in awhile when things were simpler and sometimes better.
    Debbie D. recently posted…40 THINGS QUESTIONNAIREMy Profile

  16. Obsessivemom says:

    This was such a touching post Parul. Our grandparents live on through our memories. We’re all so caught up in our lives that we have little space for memories till someone or something jogs them for us.bob
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Parenting decisionsMy Profile

  17. This is the stark truth that eventually, we all will be gone. The world will continue to function and move ahead without us. All we will remain will be in a photograph on a wall. This is such a well-written write up, Parul. Heart touching.
    This reminds me to get a big potrait of mine done because till now I have none 😀
    A thumbs up to you for closing this piece nicely.
    https://thebespectacledmother.com/2018/02/12/one-day-the-newspaper-was-discovered-mondaymusings/

  18. Anonymous says:

    Amazing ! truly nostalgic didi and well-expressed…….

  19. Anonymous says:

    Amazing… Truly nostalgic didi and so well-expressed👍👍

  20. Vineeta says:

    Oh it made me cry . Almost same thing happened with my mother also .Father passed away , ma was heart patient, she could not stay alone, dependent on brothers( so that they can look after her ). She packed her 5 rooms luggage in 2 suitcase and one airbag and left that ‘home sweet home’ which ma n daddy built with their own earning.
    And one day my 14 rooms big house was also sold . It was an emotional setback. Now I can’t say ‘Amma ke pass chali jaoongi ”
    For a married girl mayaka(mother’s house ) is
    a great moral support.
    But I still say ‘mera ghar , mera shahar ‘
    What a destiny!!
    Perhaps it happens every where…..
    Only memories n memories with tears .
    Thanks beta
    God bless u

  21. Rajiv Bakshi says:

    Parul , you know how to bring tears in the eyes of your Blog readers . Love your write ups . And I read them all . 👍🙏🙏🙏🙏

  22. Gloria says:

    This is sad but it’s also very lovely. Memories like these ones are precious so it’s important to treasure them. Thanks for sharing too.

  23. Rajlakshmi says:

    Life’s always like that. We get some, we lose some. That’s why living each day, maintaining happy relationships is so important, because in the end that is all that remains, in the memories of people. Loved the you fondly remembered your Dadi. Beautiful and heart warming post.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…5 Short Poems – Love, Life and TravelMy Profile

  24. BADRI NATH says:

    SUPERB WRITE UP.BROUGHT TEARS IN MY EYES AS THOSE DAYS FLASHED INSTANTLY BEFORE ME.

  25. Parul thats the way life is. YOu live, go through the ups and downs, and then leave the world. Totally unaware that the world around can never remain the same.
    When you think it over, the generation of grandparants- they are like the roots of the family. Firm and holding it together, and once that generation goes away, its like as though the family is scattered. It is with memories and memories alone that we relive moments and appreciate the times spent with them

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