This world is full of misunderstood people. Tributes lay endlessly at their side, for their fathers and husbands, their children and siblings – but real iron-clad humanity gets lost in their magnanimity. My grandmother is one such woman. She was born at the peak of her father’s career. Her parents died when she was eight; raised by less loving relatives, hers is the Cinderella story of Kolkata.
Despite hardships, despite daily chores, despite being a woman born before World War II, she finished college. She married my grandfather after graduating and mothered four children. She raised them firmly but with a kind of love I have never otherwise seen. Alongside, she tended to her husband, his career and meteoric rise from a corporate executive to the chairman of India’s jute corporation.
She sacrificed her aspirations and devoted her life to his dreams and their children. In midlife she suffered the unimaginable trauma of losing her only son. Still, she continued relentlessly, pouring her love and devotion into her three girls. With her husband constantly out of the country on business, she single-handedly raised them. Today her legacy speaks in the chamber of the Indian Parliament; another proudly discusses her vanguard dissertation on urban gentrification.
Through all this Dimma has always taken the back seat. She has always hidden from the limelight – except for her harsh and abrasive exterior that continues to famously terrorize Kolkata’s police force, no one has seen and nor has anyone spoken of her endless bounty – her unconditional love and devotion.
I am lucky to be her grandson. I am fortunate to be under the shadow of a Bodhi tree so expansive, its breadth cannot be seen, nor understood. No matter where I have lived in the last thirty years, I have felt the blessing of her love – it cannot be escaped, nor seen; but I feel it as surely as the ocean’s breeze.
She has been there through it all, for us all, doing everything for what she loves most – her family.
I am lucky.