There are things, people or situations which reminds you of a particular face, place or happenings for varied reasons or probably no reason at all.

Grandma - My Grandmother - And Parenting - Big Families - Many Kids

A fragrance of desi ghee reminds me of jalebis from Banaras. Wide roads and smell of trees takes me back to defence colony of Kanpur. An overcrowded bus never fails to remind me of DTDC buses running from Aanand Vihar to South-ex in Delhi. An early morning rangoli with rice flour in front of a house is my bookmark for Hyderabad.

I love having this referential memory and often connect dots in my spare time to take a leisure drive down in my memory lane.

The other day I was watering my hibiscus plant and was surprised to observe that it was six months since I bought this plant and never in this last six months, this plant failed to flaunt at least a couple of flowers. This plant is always either having a full bloomed orange-yellow hibiscus flower or few buds in about-to-bloom stage. This plant has now become more special to me for it reminds me of my grandmother. In her first 20-years of marriage (or roughly so) she had 11 children, 9 of them survived. In her youth, she either had a baby in her arms or in her tummy. Sometimes both. Like my hibiscus plant.

She had ample mouths to feed and ample hearts to please. She kept doing that, for her goal of life was to keep everyone happy. She kind of felt responsible for everyone’s happiness in a family of 20 odd persons.

“Parenting” in her household was a universal concept which was so absolute that no one really cared about. Like sun rising in the east or water flowing from up to down. Parenting was an open job, and every member of the family was enrolled into that. My mom, being third eldest in the children-series, raised my second-last masi. My youngest mama was raised by eldest masi.

Parenting in that household was always extended as a service. My eldest masi’s youngest son was raised at my grandmother’s house.

Parenting was also outsourced. There were neighbours’ kids who spent their mornings at grandma’s house and night at their own place. Grandma called them her day-children. Just like my hibiscus plant, which shelters a small tulsi sapling in the same flower-pot.

Amrita Thavrani is a mother to a two-year old daughter. Occasionally blogs at Say hello to her while strolling at the tweet street @TheSeeSawMother.

  • Beautiful!

  • Yeah I have seen such women in my mom’s village (Women with 10-12 kids) .. I always used to look at them with such wonder!

  • My own real nanee had 7 kids :)….hats off to those real women of substance for raising our parents. I think they did a better job than we are doing…

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Thank you Subhashini.
    Divya : My Grandma is someone, I seek for answers in my darkest hours of life. She is always the light awaiting at the end of a long tunnel.
    Prasad : Well, they were more sorted out, their priorities were clear, choices were fewer and expectations were lower, may be that is why they had done a better job.

  • Roshni

    lovely nostalgic post, Amrita!