I have never met my paternal grandparents. They had both passed away before my parents were even married. In Bangla, paternal grandfather is Thakurda and paternal grandmother is Thamma. I have heard, and still hear, fond stories about my Thamma’s fabled cooking and of my Thakurda’s strict discipline, being enforced on my father and his siblings (the baton which later passed on to my Baba on Thakurda’s untimely demise). There were black and white portrait photographs of them in our ancestral home. And that was my remembrance of them.
The moniker Thakurda being of 3 syllables and harder to say, we decided to change that to Dadu (being traditionally the maternal grandpa) when we introduced Brinda to her (this set of) grandparents. My Baba and Maa came and spent almost 8 weeks us, and left last week. It was not the first time I had bade them good-bye. I’ve been out of my parent’s house, on and off, since I was 18 years old and not seeing them for extended periods of time has been accepted by my psyche as part of being a grown up. I feel sad when I leave them, or they leave me, but that is life.
But this time it was different. The way my parents connected with Brinda, and she with them, was unlike anything I had seen, but probably hoping for! She spent hours with her Thamma, in numerous ways – being sung to, being played with, being put to sleep, sleeping on Thamma. Dadu was her go-to guy when she either having a good time or was in one of her screaming fit. He would rock her, dance with her, talk to her and make her resume her ‘normal’ smiling self. When they left, I was feeling their sadness to leave Brinda and go home, and Brinda’s missing her Dadu-Thamma. Which is totally not something you think you’d feel. The sense of loss, the heart-break of leaving behind someone you love – of a third person. You read a poignant book or watch a nuanced movie and once in a while they move you to feel for the protagonists, unrelated to you. This is was happening in real life and it was magnified thousand times.
Baba-Maa – Brinda misses you!
Brinda – Dadu-Thamma loves you so much!