Four generations were together this Diwali. I visited my parent’s house and my maternal grandma was there too. Grandma, Mom, me and my daughter. By shape, size, appearance, experience and temperament we were all different, yet connected.
There were shades of parenting of various stages coexisting for those few days. Ranging from warm, possessive, indifferent, matured and raw.
Every core concept of parenting was being constructed at one level and deconstructed in other generation. Both simultaneous. Exciting and heart breaking, it was.
With age, the parenting concepts takes a U-turn. Grandma was Mom’s Kid. Mom scolded her, made sure she had medicines on time. Screamed if needed. Persuaded always.
My daughter and grandma were receiving similar treatment. Former because she is yet to help herself and latter because she had past that age. Their dependence on me and mom was natural and that is why probably without saying anything, we segregated our responsibility and started taking care our respective. When we were getting exhausted by our self assigned roles, we were exchanging our duties.
I was showing grandma pictures on my laptop and she was mesmerized seeing me talking to my husband over Skype. “You guys can see each other on that slim box?” was her biggest surprise. I tried explaining her, keeping the jargon at bay. Together we cleaned banana flowers for next day preparation, a dish craved in Bong household. Somehow managed to hold her in escalators in nearby mall. While I was doing all of it, my mom took over my role. Feeding, cajoling, playing and telling stories to my two year old. Knitting woolens for her, exclusively giving her entire prasad of everyday Puja and singing her lullaby.
Grandma’s parenting superstition were coming at regular interval, Mom rectifying them with her versions and I was receiving it all with pinch of salt and sometimes pepper.
On moments of extreme exhaustion, me and mom just surrendered. Those were the best moments, most creative surprisingly. I threw a polka-dotted scarf on grandma and we kept imagining various looks she could portray. Motorbike pillion look, new bride look, English lady look and terrorist look.
We sang. Me out of sync, mom forgetting the words, grandma with toothless pronunciation and my daughter saying only half of the words.
We had disagreements. Mom’s and mine were subtle. We left incomplete sentences and other person knew what it meant for. Sometime a sigh, otherwise few looks. Grandma’s verdicts were mostly taken a note of, but never replied much. My daughter’s tantrums were pampered, almost always.
We gossiped. We bitched. Grandma shared how everyday grandpa remembered to bring Paan for her while coming back from office. Me and mom sighed, complaining how husbands have genetically changed in this era. We saw grandma blushing. My daughter all the while kept hopping from one shoulder to another.
We had our own Joy Luck Club. Three mothers and Three daughters.