My paternal grandmother Kumudini Dasgupta was a special woman. I did not really know her well nor did I make an effort to get to know her well while she was alive. I always found her to be distant and a bit of a critical snob. She was a dispassionate looking woman, who maintained her widowhood by wearing stark white saree , kept her hair short, eat only boiled food or really bland food without any onion, garlic or even much spices. All of these were as per the rotten and inhuman customs for Bengali widows, which she and others believed in (or so I thought). She died at 96 years and I wonder, how did she live for that long, with that diet? Anyway, to come back to talk about Kumudini (it means white lotus or moon) … she indeed was a remarkable woman … which I realised rather late, almost 43 years after her death.
I was talking to a friend of mine over the phone the other day. She is in her mid thirties and recently became the proud mother of a beautiful baby girl. Over the phone, she was telling me about her parents move from one city to the other and how this move, in her opinion, would bring about some definitive changes in her parents’ lives. While discussing all these, she also told me about her expectation from the elderly, and she said this: “I did not know that I expected the elderly to be spectac-ular” and she later went on to explain that this means that they ought to take good care of their health, have a sound and intelligent state of mind, be enthusiastic about life, maintain good relationship with everyone, be worldly wise and have sound financial wherewithal. She also said, how unrealistic does this sound, to herself, and she wondered what brings about these expectations in her.