Saturday, January 22, 2011

My amazing grandmother

I've been talking to Nanu a lot lately. I always knew her to be a practical woman, expert at handling her home but not very interested in anything intellectual, creative or romantic. I knew that Nanabhai was all of that, he drew sketches of famous people for his children, played badminton and chess with them, wrote more than 30 pages of letters to his wife, wrote poetry, read thousands of books. His eyes had the twinkle of an open world in it. Nanu was always busy with bringing up her twelve children. But yesterday, I heard the story of their wedding. When she was fifteen, she submitted a poem to the children's section in the newspaper Azad, a very famous newspaper in all of Bangla at that time. This was in 1945, when India, Pakistan and Bangladesh was one nation. Nanabhai was looking for an educated young girl, something that was hard to find at that time. He heard about Nanu's father, who was among the only two people holding a masters degree in his village and around (the other was his brother!). When Nanabhai saw that poem, he was a little more attracted to her. Nanu was not conventionally beautiful because she's dark-skinned. Nanabhai was very light-skinned, hence, 'very handsome'. His family went to see Nanu and was very impressed by her father and the food they ate. They left a photo of her fiance with her parents, which she secretly looked at. (Apparently, my mother never knew half of the things she told me that day, including this. She was telling her with a mock worry in her voice - why are you telling an unmarried girl about this? :P) Nanu was smiling dreamily as she told her about her then-fiance. He saw a few other girls with the intention of marriage, but none of them succeeded. One of them liked music, the other had a twin (lol). Nanu won over his heart even though the other competitors were much more beautiful, she told us with a shy smile. She got married when she was 16. She still writes in a little diary about every little thing that happens every day. She was telling me about her interest in studies, and how she could no longer attend school when the world war started. In 1942, she left her school in the area where her father worked, far from home, and went to live at home. That area used to be raided with bombs at that time. She was in grade 6, and she still remembers a little bit of an english poem she learnt - called 'Anger'. She recited without hesitation - 'Oh anger, it is an evil thing/ It spoils the fairest faces/ It comes like a rainy cloud/ Over sunny places'. (Or something like that... I think I got the last line wrong). She learnt it without knowing what it means (I know this because she asked me what it means) and yet she still remembers it!

I'll be home in a few days!


  1. Hail nanavai, nanuapu!

  2. lol @ your name. Didn't know lamzblog had a 'fan'.

  3. U should not forget to pay us a visit, lamz!