Sunday, September 21, 2014

Good Night with Dada Dadi

Having grown up in a joint family, I have always been extremely close to my grandparents. From as long as I can remember till the age of fourteen, when I got a separate room to myself, I would sleep with my dada-dadi every night. I’d slumber away with my arms spread out like Christ the Redeemer, with dadaji on one side and dadi on the other. It was one of the many perks that came with being the eldest grandchild, like having the whole family including the unmarried chacha’s and bua’s gush over you all day, clicking photographs, getting you toys and taking you for evening walks every now and then. I was quite the head-turner for twenty-year-old women in the colony too, and the erstwhile young peeps of the Ahuja family would take me for a handsome number of evening strolls frequently. In hindsight, I was probably being used as a prop to get some action by almost everyone in the family except my grandparents. But aware of the testosterone high in one’s twenties, I refuse to judge.

I was a very well potty-trained child. Even though the dadi and the bua, at times, speak about how “kitni tumhari potty dhoyi hai bachpan mein” to express overflowing emotions of love, I understand the sentiment because over-dramatization is pretty much a norm in my family. However, I’ll be honest that vomit retention and management was not one of my strongest skill sets. The family would take a number of steps to keep me from puking and ruining the bed sheets at night. A small bucket for me to puke into would be kept right next to the bed and newspaper would be spread on the floor because I was more of a Bhim than Arjun when it came to hitting bulls eye with my projectiles. I was also made to have a spoonful of brandy as charnamrit for keeping the inner beast calm, but its effect was more of keeping me from remembering the mighty battle the grandparents and the parents fought every night, cleaning ulti at 2 a.m. I would just wake up in the morning, puke some more and trot smilingly off to school.

The dada-dadi not only bore the brunt of the extra responsibilities, as mentioned above, that came with letting me sleep with them but also never complained much about my sleep-talking or involuntary rotating of my body around its axis like I was some veer-putra of the dharti ma, kicking everyone and everything that came in its path, which was mostly my dadaji’s head and my dadi’s stomach.

Now that this is shaping into a little narration of my time sleeping with my grandparents, it would be important to mention that my dadi has never been much of a bedtime story teller. Your grandparents must’ve told you some stories in your time, but my dadi knew just one little story which she narrated to me every single night! It was called the “ganje ki kahaani”. Its appropriateness for a six year old and morals are kind of questionable, but I’ll let you judge for yourself. Story time! Yay!

So, there was a ganja who used to sit on top of a baer tree. (Side note: Don’t read it like Baer from Moser-Baer. I’m talking about the little green fruit called baer. Or beyr/ber?) He would give baer to all the passers-by who asked for some. One day, a lady came up to him and said, “Ganje ganje, thode baer toh dede.” To which the ganja said, “Jholi aage kar”, and the lady replied with “Jholi mein mere kitne chhed hain.” Then the ganja said, “Haath aage kar”, and got the reply, “Haath mein mere kitne chhed hain.” (I know it sounds kind of crazy because I don’t know haath mein chhed kaise hote hain, but when asked, I was told that if someone spreads open one’s hands and arms, one is unable to catch baer. Sounds legit, but I don’t know how much my dadi would score on the CAT even if it tested us on Verbal Ability in Hindi.) Moving on, the lady suggested that the ganja wrap some baer in his pagdi and lower them from the tree for the woman to collect. But as soon as he lowered his arm to give the baer, he was pulled down and put in a sack, which the lady carried on her back into the forest.

The woman walked and walked till she really badly wanted to go pee and couldn’t hold it till she got back home. So while she went away to relieve herself, the ganja came out of the sack, filled it with stones and hay and ran back home. The woman then carried the sack back home, cursing it continuously in the choicest of Punjabi cuss words because the hay pricked her back and she thought the ganja was pinching her patootie. She was in for a big shock on reaching her home in the forest when she found that the ganja had escaped.

The next month, the lady came back to the baer tree and asked the ganja for baer. The ganja said, “jholi kar” and then “haath kar”, getting the same old replies from the woman. So he recognized her to be the witch who had tried to kidnap him the previous month and said, “Tu wohi hai na jo mujhe bori mein bandh karke le jaa rahi thi!” The witch immediately defended herself with, “Nahi nahi, main toh teri mummy ki saheli hoon. Dekh mere haathon mein tel. Abhi teri mummy ke baal kanghi karke aayi hoon.

The ganja was asked to lower his turban for the baer and was again pulled into the sack. (Smartass!)

This time, the witch held her bladder tight and ran back home. There, she asked her daughter to cook the ganja while she got some groceries from the market. On returning from the market, she saw that the dish was ready and she happily sat down to gulp it all down. While she ate the human meat, she offered some to her daughter. The daughter refused to touch it, ran to the door instead and sang aloud: “Apni kudi nu khaale oye; apni kudi nu khaale oye.” Turned out that the ganja had cooked the witch's daughter instead and served the same to her own mother. End of story! 

It may seem like the story had no moral values to convey and the plot twist is a little screwed up because apparently the ganja looked like the witch’s daughter, but my grandparents have given me a lot of such seemingly insignificant yet wonderful memories, which I will cherish for a lifetime. They have continuously showered upon me unparalleled love that they communicate in ways that they know best. It still continues in words like, “Main toh apne par-pote ko dekh ke jaaungi.

The ganje ki kahaani, in my dadi's gentle voice, has also brought the Secret into practice and instructed the Universe to give me all that I had grown up hearing about. Ganjaapan! It still remains with me like blessings from my dadi, who makes it a point to cover the bald-patch with her hand every time that she touches my head to give aashirwad.

I can possibly not express the amount of respect and love I feel for my grandparents. But this is just a little expression of gratitude for giving me company every night during my growing up years. Thank you! They collectively made the good nights some of the best nights I've had.


  1. Would you believe me if I told you my Nani used to tell me the same story everytime ? You bought back menories :')
    There were some differences and some more embarassing parts to it when he runs away, though xP
    Maybe peoole aren't commenting 'cuz they couldn't relate to it, but you had me in splits xD

    1. Whadafaaaaaaq! Tell me all the embarrassing parts and stuff that I missed out on. Email! Now!

  2. Whoa. How the hell did I miss this post?

    'Even though the dadi and the bua, at times, speak about how “kitni tumhari potty dhoyi hai bachpan mein” to express overflowing emotions of love, I understand the sentiment because over-dramatization is pretty much a norm in my family.'
    OMG, THIS. The accuracy with which this statement applies to my family is spooky.

    Aw, man. Dada-dadi ki stories make up the best memories of my childhood, too.
    This one's beautifully written, Sarthak!
    Here, have some jalebis. :)

    1. Thanks ji, Bubbly Mausi! Late comment, but such a long comment yet again! You more than made up :D


If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D