I saw a video from British Airways that reminded me of my Grandmother who believed that life was all about forming deep bonds fuelled by love and mutual respect. She was amazing, touching lives in a significant and positive way, wherever she went.
My Grandmother is always remembered as one of the most hospitable and generous persons, ever. Growing up in our family home, I have fond memories of a house that was always full with family members and houseguests. Whenever a relative visited our city, Mumbai, it was taken for granted we would host them.
If their children were admitted into a course, they’d stay with us. If they got jobs in Mumbai, our home would be their home until they found a place of their own. If someone in the family was expecting a baby, my Grandma would readily volunteer to look after her and nurse her back to health. No one ever visited us and left without a meal, or two. Her big heart and serene demeanour touched lives outside the family as well, and she was always keen to help people in our area.
One of my most heart-warming memories of that time revolves around my school, the same Catholic school that my Mom and her cousins had studied in. I even had the same teachers who taught her. Interestingly, when I started school, Mom got a job there. Naturally, the teachers were already old friends by now. Since we lived close by, for any emergency, our house was the go-to place. My Grandma was the one with the answers. When someone fell sick, they rushed to our house. If they got hurt, they came home. If there was an event that finished late, they stayed over at our place. If they had a party at home, my Grandma would share the cooking and pack goodies to take to their place.
I remember, for my birthday, all these teachers would get together, buy lace, satin and other material for my special frock and sew it for me. They were all so involved in our family that the love was almost tangible. They adored my Grandma. They participated in all our festivals. When it was Christmas, they would all bring us cakes and other delicious things they had made. During Diwali, my Grandma made sure she got them new clothes.
Life went on.
When I was 8, we moved to a different city and it was a wrench to leave our loving friends, who were like extended family. However, we did meet them whenever we visited Mumbai. The following year, when my folks decided to enrol me in a boarding school, one of my teachers, the same one who had taught Mom, came forward and suggested that they choose one in Mumbai. She volunteered to be my guardian.
Obviously, my folks trusted her and went ahead with her advice. Two weeks before school was due to start, I arrived at her place. The school had given us a long list of things to prepare, that read something like this:
- A sturdy trunk with a lock and key
- 4 sets of uniforms
- 6 night dresses
- 6 frocks/dresses
- 6 chemises
- 6 underpants
- 6 handkerchiefs
- 2 towels
- One bucket and mug
- bedsheets and pillow covers – 2 sets
- 1 pair of black shoes
- 1 pair of white shoes
- 6 pairs of socks
- Tooth brush, tooth paste, soap, shampoo
- List of books
…and so on. You get the idea! My uncle wanted to stay on and shop for these, but my teacher insisted she would take care of it all. She refused to let him pay for anything.
On Saturday morning, she took me to the market to choose material for my frocks and nightdresses. We came back home, laden with our shopping. For two days, she toiled at her sewing machine to get everything ready. Before my eyes, I saw an entire wardrobe taking shape. Then her brother bought me a steel trunk with a lock and together we had fun packing.
After I joined the school, she would visit me every weekend and take me home during the holidays. Their entire family treated me like a princess.
When the academic year ended, I joined my Grandma in Hyderabad.
Over the years we kept in touch with my teacher. When I was in my twenties, she passed away.
Today my eyes are moist when I remember. The kindness, love and respect we show people always comes back to us in many forms. Visit this link to know what I mean!
In their touching #LoveIndia video, British Airways, with its 90-year history of operating flights to India, strikes a major chord in me.
#fuelledbylove is indeed the best way to live. Loving back those who love you is the most joyful thing to do!