My daughters have grown up with three grandparents. They have their dadu and thamma (my husband’s father and mother) in Kolkata. And then they have their dida (my mother) in Bangalore. If they’ve ever wondered at the lopsidedness of the grand-parental-equation, they’ve never let me know about it. But then, children seem to have their own logic of working out these things.
Some time back, I was cleaning my clothes-cupboard when the two nosey-parkers poked their way in. Fiddling and flopping about on the clothes lying scattered all over the room, the lil cat (my elder daughter) dug out a framed photograph of my father from under a pile of sarees.
It was a twinkly-eyed photo of my father, taken during my uncle’s wedding, a huge happy celebration on a hot and happy day. Somehow, the photo always made me cry in remembrance.
“Who’s this, ma?”
“That’s my father, your chhobi-dadu (picture-grandfather)”.
“Where’s he now?”
“He died long back, long before you were born.”
“Is he a ghost then?” asked my elder one. “Is this a photo of a bhoot (ghost)?” echoed the copy-kitten, my younger daughter.
Bhoot in Bengali means both a ghost and the past. So I explained how my father was an inextricable part of my past, how I had grown up with him, all the little-big things we had done together, and how he was no more a part of our present lives, how he had gone away to a far, far place, away from all of us.
“But, ma, look, he has not gone away,” said my elder daughter, perhaps to console me because the happy-sad tears were flowing unchecked, “he’s there in the picture.”
“Yes, ma,” added the copy-kitten, “he’s the ghost caught in the picture.”
P.S: Thank you Scribbit, for your wonderful write-away contest which unlocked this ghost from the cupboard.