Musings

My Grandma’s Babu

This article was written for Reflection’s April 2011 issue.

When my mother was expecting my brother, my father had bought me a life-size doll which exactly looks like a baby. Since I had no clue about my mother’s condition (I was just six years old!), I was more than happy to have found an artificial little brother. Soon my own brother was born and my grandparents came to visit us. My grandmother, a strong-willed woman, fell for the doll as soon as she saw it. In spite of it being a mere lifeless toy, she used carry it in hers arms all the day as if it was a lively human baby. She would feed it, bathe it and sleep with it. She even named it ‘Babu’. By now, that doll no longer charmed me (now that I had a real brother!), so I really didn’t mind. When the time came for my grandparents to leave, my grandma expressed a desire to take the doll with her. But suddenly, out of nowhere, my love for that star toy filled my heart and I refused to give it.

It wasn’t love, I realised years later. It was selfishness and arrogance of a six year old girl. My father tried to persuade me, promising me to buy a new one but in vain. Somewhere down at the bottom of my heart I knew I really didn’t want it but my refusal to give it boosted my ego which was intoxicating. It clouded my conscience which says ‘The best gift is the one which you love the most.’ My grandma’s face fell but still gave in to her little granddaughter’s demand. I remember my grandma turning back many a times to look at her ‘Babu’ hanging in my arms. After they left, the doll was thrown in the store room and no one ever bothered about it. A few years later, my grandma passed away. The doll is still there with one of its legs broken. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of my grandma, her fondness for her ‘Babu’ and my insensitivity to her feelings. Guilt and remorse fill my eyes, sting my heart and has made me realise that the joy of giving always gives more pleasure and contentment than the joy of receiving. When pride and selfishness give away to selflessness and humility, life becomes a blessing.

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