My grandmother was a central figure in our family who coordinated us all, showing affection and understanding. She held us all together with her love. She used to take care of each and every need of all in the family. When I needed something, even I would ask my grandmother. It was amazing to see how much energy she had and I can’t remember a time when she refused me anything.
Once, all of us children were sitting in a line for our meal. For the meal, ladoos (sweetmeats) had been made. We were all served the ladoos and were enjoying these delicacies. Suddenly, I remembered that all were present except my baby brother, who was still sleeping in the room. The thought arose in me that he was missing out on these delicious ladoos.
I wanted my brother to have the ladoo and so I took the ladoo from my plate to feed him. I started force-feeding him with it. The sleeping child awoke and was vehemently shaking his head as he did not want the ladoo, but I did not stop in my pursuit.
Outside, my grandmother saw that I was nowhere to be seen. She wondered where I was and quickly realized that I must have gone to my baby brother. Hence, searching for me she reached the room. With a lot of love, she said to me, ‘Bebi, presently he is very young. He cannot even sit, he cannot be given ladoos.’ She did not scold me but with love made me understand the situation.
In some families, if such a situation had arisen, the child would surely have been scolded I thought, but my grandmother explained all to me so affectionately. This incident is entrenched in my mind and I believe that all issues within a family can only be resolved with love and through mutual understanding. Even today I can feel, in the depths of my heart, my family’s caring behaviour.
Today’s changing family values, our self-centredness, shrinking relationships, shattered connections, decreasing respect for the elderly, reduced space in homes and viewing elders as a burden, all such emotions are on the increase. Such an afflicted society can no longer be strung as ‘a garland of relationships’ but is like a broken, shattered and separated string of pearls.
The warmth of the relationships that I feel within myself is really a gift from my family.