Farewell to my Naani

Bye bye Dayavati Chandiok, we lost you a few hours ago, at the long-lived age of 92. Or something. We don’t remember when you were born, but we know it was Karva Chauth then, and it was somewhere around the early 1910s

Pet-murderer, Hindi Teacher, Freedom-Fighter, and Mother to so many.

How many people live long enough to actually hold all 7 of their great-grandchildren in their arms?

How many people live long enough to have 6 kids, 14 grandkids and 7 great-grand kids?

You will be missed – by the pigeons you tried to run over when you tried to learn to drive one of the first cars to have ever been bought in New Delhi.

You will be missed, because your cakes always turned out to have too much butter in them, which would turn to ghee after a bit.

You will be missed, because everytime you would meet any of us, your first question was: “Kya Khaoge?”, even if we’d just come back from dinner.

You will be missed, by your last pet, Julie, the Tibetan Spaniel, who has outlived you, while the poor parrots, chicks, and cats did not.

You will be missed, because although you could not see too well, you could bluff your way through any game of Flash, even till this Diwali.

You will be missed, because you used to eat Pizza, and drink Cognac for your colds, till a few months ago, despite all the doctors’ warnings through the years. Well you were right and they were wrong.

You will be missed, because you believed that drinking Gol Gappe Ka Paani was the best way to eliminate sluggishness and perk somebody up. And you proved it too.

You will be missed, because you taught me how to read and write Hindi. For this I shall be ever grateful.

You will be missed, because when everybody else had abandoned my physically-impaired cousin for lost, you made him go to school, you taught him when you had to, you had sent him to America, where he learned to play the drums, despite his impaired fingers, where he worked for the White House, where he lives, with his wife.

You will be missed, because you gave your teenage servant Surinder a second chance after he was caught stealing. You taught him how to read and write in Hindi and English, and I’m sure he’ll remember you, when he sits with his wife and kid, or when he goes to the Cement company he works for now.

You had to be mother to two of your grandkids, after their mother divorced your son. From not being able to walk due to the trauma, to their present jobs, the kids made it, because of you.

You saw the burning of Delhi, the loss of your friends some 50-odd years ago. You fought along with the others, to liberate this country. And fought on for so long afterwards.

I cannot grieve for somebody who gave so much happiness to so many people. Somehow it seems wrong. I think it would be more appropriate to go out and have 5 Gol Gappas. I don’t think that’s trampling on your memory. I think that’s honouring it. I think it’s what you helped to make happen.

If I ever live to be 92, I want to be just like you.



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