A few days back, papa called me up
Papa: Today is grandpa’s birthday. Do not forget to wish him.
Me : Oh! Sure thing. I will call him asap. Which birthday is this – as in the astrological one, the one according to the English calendar or the Telugu calendar ??
Papa : (laughs heartily in his characteristic way) I am not sure, and I don’t think even he’s sure but still call him before he gets busy. Take care. Bye!
…(after 10 minutes)
Mumma: Nammu, did you wish grandpa?
Me : (in an ‘oh-shit’ + blatant lying tone) Oh ya, I was about to,I was dialing the number when your call came.
Mumma: Right. Do not lie. Papa reminded you na. Why are you so irresponsible. Its just a call and it will make him very happy. When will you understand the importance of doing things in time.
Me: Aah, Mumma ok ok. I know this conversation by heart. I will call him. I love him too. I was just caught up with some work.
Mumma: Can’t you take out two minutes for a call. You are 21 now. Your sister already wished him. You are the last one to call every time.
Me: I am not the last one mumma. And does that even matter. I am calling him straightaway. Promise. Talk to you later. Bye.
I finally called up my grandpa.
Me: Hello tathu. Happy birthday.
G: Hi Nammu. Thank you thank you. (he recognizes my voice every time and he has this adorable way of saying few words like ‘thank you’ and ‘god bless’ twice)
Me: I hope I am not the last one to call.
G: No no. Your dad has not called yet. I guess your mother has not called him yet !!
Me: Hehe, I guess. So whats special today.
G: I am 80 now kanna. Today is like any other day. Was reading the newspaper. BJP is sinking kanna. ( he is a staunch BJP supporter much to the agony of my uncle who supports Congress and my dad who supports no one :P)
Me: Abba tathu. Forget about them. No new clothes huh?
G: Well, I cant make out if the clothes are new or old. They are all the same anyways. ( he’s been wearing white dhoti teamed with a white shirt for the past 50 odd years)
Me: (laughs) Okay, so what about special food?
G: Oh, that you need to ask your grandma. ( he never speaks for more than 5 minutes on the phone and always hands over the phone to someone on some excuse :P)
Me: Hi nanamma. What are you cooking today.
Nani(N): What can I cook? Half of his teeth are gone. He can’t chew properly.
Me: (trying to control my laughter) Come on. Its his birthday and he loves sweets na. Cook something that he can chew.
N: Ya ya, I will don’t worry. By the way are you eating properly. Someone told me you have become very weak.
Me: Who told you that.
Me: Who someone?
N: Abba someone.
Me: No. I am eating well and am not weak.
N: No, I know you are not eating well. You people are so concerned about your figure that you don’t eat ghee only. How will your ‘medhashakti’ improve. Bones will become weak like me.
Me: (with a huge smile on my face) I am eating well nanamma. Do not worry. Take care of your health and cook payasam or something that tathu can have.
N: Ha ha, eat ghee kanna. In old age you will not suffer like me then.
Me: Sure sure.
G: (takes the phone from her hand) Tell your nanamma to make payasam with actual sugar in it. (my grandpa has diabetes and he is usually given pseudo-sweets)
Me: I told her already. Have fun today.
G: Ya. God bless you .God bless you.
Me: (victoriously laughing because I knew he would say it twice) Okay, will call you soon. Bye. Happy birthday once again.
After I put the phone down, I realized how much I love my sometimes crazy, sometimes over-the-top,sometimes eccentric but absolutely adorable grandparents. They are so cute. My grandfather has been a teacher all his life. He taught Math and English – strange combination, and excelled at both. He was awarded the best teacher award twice and stayed committed to his job and his school even after retirement by serving as a guest lecturer and correspondent. My grandmother on the other hand loves cooking,praying and gossiping. She used to tell my parents about every neighbour and their family problems when we went to visit them. With age, her enthusiasm has waned but she still does not mind the occasional indulgence! While grandpa always spoke about how proud he was of our educational achievements, grandma’s concern was our complexion,our health and our intake of ghee! I love them to bits and miss how much they pampered me and my sister when we visited them. I hope to spending quality time with them soon. After all, grandpa is just 80 years young :). Happy Birthday grandpa!!!