THE BLOG

My Grandmother and I

09/04/2013 12:04 pm ET | Updated Nov 04, 2013
  • Kanan Dhru Founder and managing director, Research Foundation for Governance in India

My sister and I have a theory. It is about classifying between people who have had significant influence of their grandparents in their years growing up vis-à-vis those who did not. Such people, we like to call "grandparent's children." And trust me, once you get the hang of this, it becomes so easy to find out those lucky ones who had the fortune of receiving love, warmth and absolute attention of their grandparents during their childhood. In our opinion, such individuals are comparatively more sensitive, warm-hearted and have a more positive outlook in life!

This theory might be just a funny pastime or may actually even hold meaning, but the truth remains that it is a blessing to receive nurturing from one's grandparents! I consider myself extremely lucky to have had really wonderful grandparents who have made my childhood so special.

If there was one person who loved me more than the world was my grandmother. I can't even begin to narrate how much she loved and pampered me and the woman that she was! My grandmother was the rock-solid-support-system for my family: a nurturer, an intelligent listener and an extremely warm-hearted woman with exemplary taste and fondness for beautiful things.

Looking back, there is only one thing that I wish for very strongly and it is to be a woman like my grandmother! I wish I can continue all the wonderful traditions she used to follow with so much precision, love and pride. I wish I can always be around for my family with a welcoming hug -- just like her.

But I know that I am nowhere close to being like her. I am way too ambitious, always chasing an impossible dream, selfishly focused on a career. I love to travel and I have very little time for myself or my family. And I am not even married yet.

The times are changing so fast and there are infinite opportunities for everyone! I constantly have the urge that there is so much to know, so much to experience and so much to live for. 24 hours seem such a little time and the chase just gets more and more interesting. I consider myself so lucky to be born into a generation where anything and everything is possible - literally!

However, every time there is any reference to creating a family or nurturing others, I am reminded of my grandmother and I feel as if I am letting her down. I feel conflicted and guilty. I feel torn between my traditional and modern identities.

If I am so driven and motivated about what I want to achieve from my life, when will I have the time to be the support system that my grandmother was for all of us? If day after day I see myself hurriedly grabbing a sandwich for lunch on my way to a meeting, when will I have the capacity to carefully make the pickles, sweets and all the other delicacies that my grandmother used to make? If all I read late at night are the work-related reports on my laptop, when will I develop the skills to remember the traditional songs and stories that my grandmother used to recite?

If I don't continue these traditions, how will my next generation even come to know of these customs that define me, my identity and my heritage?

Even though I may be from the "lucky" generation which has all the access and opportunities, will my generation be responsible for letting go of the beautiful culture and traditions that my parents and grandparents preserved with so much care?

I don't have answers for these questions. I don't even know if there are any right answers for them.

For centuries, culture and traditions in a society have grown on the shoulders of its women. Indeed, many customs have been criticized for repressing women but there are also those which have allowed women to flourish, to voice out their opinions and to reach their full potential. Some of these customs have nurtured societies, gave them their unique identity and even celebrated the harmony between the nature and the human being.

Of course, the contemporary women will have to find their own answers -- they will have to create their own unique balance between the traditions and modernity.

I often feel that women in general and women from traditional cultures in particular, are at a time when they have very important choices to make -- the choices which will have deep and large-scale implications for the society. Awareness about the importance of these choices and the tradeoffs would play a definitive role in the future of the mankind.

Personally, however, I feel nervous whether I will be able to make the right choices. I don't know if I can ever be like my grandmother. No matter how hard I will try, perhaps my growth as an individual will come at the cost of losing out on some of the wonderful aspects from my traditions and my childhood. I guess that is the choice I will have to make. And I guess that is the choice every generation has had to make -- including my grandmother's!

Even though I may not be able to preserve some of my traditions, the beauty of living in the highly interconnected world of today is that I have the choice of allowing the most wonderful things from the world-over to influence me! Perhaps the best answers will come from constantly learning to be a better person while not losing sight of where one comes from.

That said, I do hope that one day when I ecstatically hold my grandchildren in my arms and sing to them the songs that I would have gathered from my life journey, including those from my childhood, my grandmother will be smiling at me for making all the right choices!