Love, Actually ..words from long ago

It’s another kind of love.

My maternal grandparents , Aja and Aaee, Smt. Lakshmipriya Devi, with five of their eight children in 1953
Dr. Radha Nath Misra, F.R.C.S. (Edinburgh).,the second doctor in Orissa to be awarded this ~ Aja went overseas at the age of 42 for further studies ~
1966 ~ his tireless efforts culminated in the recognition of Burla Medical College by the Medical Council of India.
Paternal grandfather Dr. Kashi Nath Misra
1937 ~Elected to the Medical Council of India
1938 ~ conferred the title of Rai Sahib in recognition of his contribution to the advance of medical and surgical treatment in the country
1942 ~ conferred the title of Rai Bahadur, in recognition of “conspicuous treating the survivors of ships sunk off the Orissa coast”
1960~ Established the Children’s Hospital in Cuttack, SCB Medical College.

Paternal grandmother Smt. Ichhamani Devi ~ Ma

The nearest our grandmothers may have got to saying, “I love you” in Oriya would have been “I like you!” And even that would have been said with a blush. Dad’s mother, Ma, left us too soon. We were away in England in the sixties and I used to conjure up her smiles from black-and-white photographs fitted into triangular corners, pressed lovingly in the few surviving albums, with tissue paper overlays that rustled each time you turned the pages.

My maternal grandmother,Aaee’s been gone a decade now. But I can still see her, smiling endearingly, licking her paan-stained lips, chuckling over our torrent of questions on the silliest of topics, including love, her eyes crinkling in amusement. As she sat to clean the fish to be served for lunch, she’d say, “Haan, you better know how to clean the insides of a fish. Or else it will be so bitter that love may not save you from the comments!”

As for us, young teenagers, we would talk endlessly of falling in love, drinking champagne, daring to have a “love-marriage”. All Aaee would say was, “Bhack! Watching too many cinemas.” Yet she would always pull open the corner of her pallu, hand over some crumpled rupee notes so that we could go for the first evening show in the only cinema house in Dhenkanal — furtively, so that our grandfather, Aja, would not spot us. An uncle owned the cinema hall. He refused to take money for our tickets and even rewound the movie reels for us if we were late and had missed the trailers. Aja did not want to be obliged to his wife’s nephew, so he would frown heavily, shaking his head in despair!

Then I turned 17 and it was time to say goodbye before leaving for Delhi University. Sad to think about it even now, the tears they shed, my elderly grandparents, as if I would never see them again. There were no lectures about getting married. Aaee would say, “You must study. I’ll come stay with you when you are in the IAS.” She had been a child bride and became a very young mother. What had she dreamt about as a little girl? I should have asked her.

Now, at 50, it’s all so different. Two strong personalities, almost the same age and 20 shared years of worrying about the children — from school to college; through sickness and through sadness. Watching them grow and recede from our lives. We have learnt to confront financial problems, resolve conflicts, balance opinions. Think about medical care. Grow old. We now acknowledge it and accept our imperfections. And realise that — in the end — it may be just the two of us.

We have learnt to accept each other as time has changed us — the expanding waist, the dental bridges, the need for reading glasses.

It’s another kind of love. and Indian Express, 2005

Published by Jayshree Tripathi

Jayshree Tripathi lived in diverse cultures for over thirty years. Her late husband was a career diplomat in the Indian Civil Service. Jayshree received her Master of Arts Degree in English Literature from Delhi University (1978) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law (2001, Distance Education Programme) from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. She has been an educator and examiner in English Language and Literature for the International Baccalaureate Organization and their trained Consultant. Jayshree has worked in print media in the late ’70s and ’80s and calls herself an 'arranger of words', of narrative verse and short fiction. She continues in raising awareness about adult literacy in India and ‘women helping women’- #HelpHerWalkForward. Jayshree, as the eldest of five daughters, includes her maiden surname in her writing. On Twitter @JayMTrips. On LinkedIn

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