Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Dida is no more

Dida is my grandma, my mom's mother. My earliest memories of her consist of yummy bengali recipes out of ordinary vegetables, annual lakshmi puja with traditional homemade prasad, annual get-togethers at her place and inordinate amount of love.

Dida literally brought us up during the first few years of our life. Us is me and my twin sister. A kid is as much a bundle of joy, as a management challenge. For twins, you double that with the additional confounding error. My dida beat that and always managed to differentiate one from the other. Mamabari, where my dida, uncle, aunts stayed had very little space in the room, but ample in the heart. We loved our mamabari, and everything about it. Everytime, we left, dida would stand at the top of the stairway, waving us goodbye, and chanting 'dugga dugga'. Dugga is the name of goddess Durga. A few months before she left us, when we visited her, she stood in the same manner and waved us off, despite her failing health. Today, I realize that, life doesn't trumpet itself, when it is about to leave.

Dida didn't talk much about herself. She would keep asking how everyone else was. She understood less, felt more. Expected little, did lots. Everytime we were away she would keep saying to my mom, 'mayyagulare kotodin dekhi nai' (haven't seen the kids for so long). We remained kids for her as long as she lived.
She was married when she was a teenager. My mom says, dida and dadu(granddad) were known as 'haro gauri' as a couple. Haro gauri stands for shiva and parvati. People felt they were made for each other. Dida was as beautiful, as my grandfather was handsome. Dida's name was Gauri. As a housewife, she managed her 5 kids in the small means that my dadu provided.She was not very qualified, but knew more about managing people than I do with my MBA. She stopped having non-veg food, onion and garlic for more than three decades after dadu passed away. Yet, she cooked all these with great care for everyone else.

Lakshmi puja was a grand affair. Grand in the eyes of a small kid who watches prasads being made, purohit chanting hymns, lots of people, chaos, smoke of diyas - it was an enchanting experience. Dida ensured that the midnight lamp burnt the entire night, welcoming goddess lakshmi no matter how late she came. Having seen tough days in her life, lakshmi puja was a must for her. The pujas stopped when her health refused to cooperate with her heart.

I've loved my dida a lot. Her words, her advice, her hug, her prayers, her wishes, her admonitions, her fears, her joys...I've loved everything. When we went outside kolkata, everytime we returned, we made it a point to visit her. Everytime, no matter how weak she was, she would go to the head of the staircase and wish us goodbye. Wave us from the window, till we saw her no more. Perhaps, she knew the importance of farewell, more than we did.

She passed away after a stroke.I wish I could say 'dugga dugga' as she moved on in her last journey. I wish her well. I hope that someday, I can be as good a grandmom as my dida was.