Austria – We all come to this world as someone’s child, grow up to adulthood and become someone’s life partner. We become a parent and as time passes, we become a grandparent. And if lucky enough, some of us even become great grandparents.
It used to be a social tradition and is still common in some countries that the grandparents live together with the rest of the family. As the world is changing, so are the social customs and traditions. Many grandparents today languish in nursing homes or retirement communities while their children and grandchildren live far away. The children these days rarely understand the importance of the role of grandparents in their life. If well managed, both the grandchild and the grandparents can be a source of knowledge and company for each other.
“A Pilgrim close by is neglected”
In the modern world, parents are busy with their daily routines. The lack of care that a child gets from the parents can be fulfilled by the grandparents. On the other hand, the grandparents may be lonely and need someone to share their time with. Grandchildren can learn a lot from the grandparents through all the experiences they may have encountered throughout their life.
I am one of those fortunate children who has spent precious moments with my grandparents. Especially my grandfather had a very close bond with me. He was the person who taught me to walk this earth, speak the first word, and even eat. I was lucky enough to spend the first four years of my life with my grandfather.
My bond broke the day I left Nepal at the age of four and went to Calcutta city in India to live with my parents. The environment and society were different. There I learned the common languages Bengali and Hindi. I feel nostalgic when I remember those days. I used, to sum up, friends from a poor neighbourhood and bring them home for food. I learned a lot about their language and culture because I used to spend most of my time with them.
There was a reverse cultural shock when I returned to Nepal at the age of nine. The language and culture were different to me. I had a huge difficulty in understanding the Nepali language in school. My grandfather was the one who helped me get through this. Again, this time also he was the one who taught me to talk, read and write. He often saved a part of his meal for me. I vividly remember him running after me for hours just to feed me the home-produced pure honey, while I used to hate honey. But he never gave up. He used to do all these because he wanted to make me healthy. When I was sick and refused to take medicines, he used to wrap medicines in sweets and trick me into eating them.
The day I completed School; he was the happiest person in my family. He had gathered some of his friends and neighbours and was waiting for me. I was welcomed with flowers and Abir (A traditional red coloured powder used to honour someone). He was always part of each important moment of my life in those days.
After School, I moved to the capital city Kathmandu for further studies. After all those years of village life, the city environment was strange to me. I was a decent child brought up in a family with harsh financial conditions, I knew nothing about the city culture and the way of life. I remember an incident when my grandfather was in the city to see me; it was chilling cold weather in Kathmandu. Quickly realizing the situation, he took off his coat and left it for me so that I could use it to keep myself warm.
I used to attend college putting on the same coat my grandfather had left for me. It was not a regular coat, but a symbol of my grandfather’s care, love, and protection. When I remember those days, I feel a bit embarrassed. But I am proud and lucky for his immense love and care.
I only had a handful of chances to show my care towards him. Living in the remote village of Nepal, where electricity used to be far from reach, my grandfather was very fond of listening to the radio. So, I used to present him cell batteries for the radio whenever I went to see him in the village. We used to discuss for hours about the then social phenomenon which sometimes turned to bitter arguments. But that never affected the bond we had with each other.
Just to continue with the further journey of my life, I had to move to Europe. We never lost the bond. We used to communicate quite often. In 2015, I was in Nepal to complete the death rituals in a family after my very own father passed away. My grandfather at the age of ninety-five plus was heartbroken to see his elder son pass away. Two years later, he passed away too. I am grateful that I could see him during the mourning of my father’s death. No one is ever immortal. But, it’s so hard to embrace the reality of losing someone so close to the heart.
He spent his entire life as a loyal social worker. And seeing the similar character in me, I feel as if I have inherited this from him. Since he was one of my greatest sources of inspiration, I had always dreamed of writing about him.
” May your soul rest in eternal peace grandfather. I will miss you for my entire life. If I ever will get the chance to become a grandparent, I will try my best to follow in your footsteps.”
Let your children be close to their grandparents;