This is an original article written by my grandfather – G.S.Banhatti.
WHETHER a grand-daughter is grander than a daughter, I am not competent to decide, for the simple reason that I am not blessed with a daughter. Chains of words like d., g.d, d.-in-law, show the poverty of the language that has fed me, self being a retired teacher of English, I always think.
I do have a daughter-in-law, as you might have rightly guessed, but I do not wish to pronounce my verdict on the relative grandness of the d.-in-law and the g.daughter lest it should breed envy.
In fact, to keep the record straight, I have two grand daughters, one per son. The elder is now nearing three, considers a kiss infra-dig, and the younger has just turned the fifteenth month.
I have, like most grandparents I suppose, only faint memories of my own sons’ childhood. After many years of having a pure (only age-wise; no moral overtones intended or unintended) all-adult family, the atmosphere underwent a drastic change the moment the elder g.d. arrived.
I cannot say at what age a child is at its loveliest; as it grows month by month it exudes varied charms. When we started wondering how the first grand-daughter looked at, say, six months or nine or twelve, the second descended to revive the month-by-month delights.
The elder now speaks Marathi, with a sprinkling of Hindi in deference to her mother’s mother-tongue, and of ‘thank you’s, sorry’s, etc., as a result of her mother’s training in etiquette.
It is amazing how and where she acquires her vocabulary. Her accents and pronunciation and gestures of hand and neck are language in themselves; it’s lovely childese.
Don’t tell me I should record her speech; her parents have already taken care of that. Of course, she keeps merrily interfering in my work, and when I tell her I am working, she retorts she is also working, mercifully at something different and obviously much more important to her.
But what made me put pen to paper now is her role as the peace-keeper of the family.
For a couple of months now, if I raise my voice ever so slightly while talking to my wife, the g.d. is quick to admonish me, Baba, Aaeelaa ghussaa karu nakaa. (That ghussaa is again a concession to her mother’s m.t.).
She embarks upon a similar mission of pacification when my son speaks a little loudly to his wife or mother. The g.d. utters the words most solemnly, and we have a hard time telling her that we are not showing any ghussaa, but have raised our voices inadvertently.
The noise level in the house-hold, never on the high side, has dipped to a new low. The shrillest voice these days is that of the peacemaker, bless her!
The other day, however, she asserted, generating waves of alarm: “If you do ghussaa to Aaee I shall leave your house.”
Research in the possible source of this devastating remark led us nowhere. On constant agitated questioning about who told her to say such a thing, she replied, Mi gammat keli, and resumed the combing of her doll’s hair.