"The main reason why a daughter needs a dad is to show her that not all the boys are like the ones who hurt her." ~ Anonymous
My Mother's Father: My Grandfather
My mother's father passed away even before my mother got married. It is, therefore, no surprise that I have never seen him.But the stories I've heard about him from my mother has painted a vivid living image of his in my mind. My mother's favorite sentence when it comes to describing him is, "He was born way before his time. He had too much of foresight, you know. And no one in his family appreciated that."
He had predicted the Bengal would get partitioned and had asked his father to move to Kolkata as soon as possible. His father had refused, telling my grandfather to mind his own business. But when his prediction did come to pass, his family lost everything. In stead of saying, "I told you so," my grandfather took everyone of his surviving family members in and helped them get back on their feet.
He married my grandmother, and I believe that the marriage was a happy one. My mother was the only sister among her five brothers. She says, that looking back now, she didn't realize that she was gifted with the equal amount of liberty given to her brothers. Her father had quietly made sure she never felt discriminated against. And perhaps, that is the reason, me and my sister were brought up in a very liberal atmosphere.
My mother was allowed to play cricket with the boys, she was allowed to run around, and even shift to Pondicherry to finish her studies there. My grandfather would brave the hot Sun and stand there, and watch his daughter captain her team. He was quietly appreciative of her efforts. He would only smile when relatives would point out that being a daughter of the house it was her duty to know how to cook, clean and sew. I don't know what he replied to these comments, but my grandmother would smile and say, "The whole life is left to do such things. Girlhood is meant to be enjoyed. Let her be happy."
My grandfather never forced the institution of marriage on my mother either. He believed that being caught in the maya of household would put shackles on the feet of his daughter, who had grown used to running wild with the wind. He had argued his way into making sure my mother had the time of her life, until he passed away. That's when my mother had no choice but to get married.
However his legacy lives on in her. Even today, she's not very fond of cooking, and she doesn't let me enter our kitchen either. Twenty three, she claims, is the age to be doing things I love. Not boiling and sweating in front of the kitchen fire. My sister too, didn't learn how to cook, till she moved away from home. My mother always said we'd learn when we had to. And sure enough my sister became one of the best cooks in our family now.
My grandfather's serious face had kept all his children at a distance from him. But he was always encouraging when it came to my mother. Watching her play sports, quietly observing as she tried to teach herself how to ride his over sized bicycle, and even appreciating her talent: painting.
My mother is a woman of the 50s.Sometimes I shudder to think what her outlook on life would have been like, had she been brought up without the liberal approach of her father. He is her hero. And in someway, he is mine too. Because the family my mother married into, did initially have a daughter-son discrimination. My mother did everything she could to stamp that feeling out.
Today, there are three kids in our family. My sister, my brother (my uncle's son) and me. But the rules of the house are all the same for us.
And I believe I have my mother's father to thank for that.