Azoba

Sridivya Mukpalkar

I recently borrowed the book My Grandfather from my neighbourhood library. The book is written by Tanuja Parande and published by Tulika Books. I’ve read it several times now and my two boys aged 8 and 6 love it as well. A book on Azoba (grandfather in Marathi), their most favourite person on earth – what’s not to like?

Azoba is a tall man with a slight stoop to his gait. Always immaculately dressed in whites. I have heard from his old friends that he was one of the stylish dandies in his college. At 66 he is as busy as ever and as fond of sweets and desserts as a four-year-old. The one thing I’ve noticed about him over the years is the glint of mischief in his eyes. That mischief is what makes the three of them tick.

To them, Azoba is the coolest person ever. There isn’t a thing he could do wrong. They want to dress like him in all whites, wear Salim Shahi shoes and top it all with some really cool dark shades. He never says no to their unusual demands: be it ice creams in winter or a huge radio-controlled racing car. It is a joy to see all three of them together and I secretly hope one day when they grow up, my sons too will write similar books!

I love the fact that they have such an amazing relationship with my father, and yet I dread my father’s visits. When the three are together, there’s sure to be trouble.

Usually well-behaved, my father’s visits uncork a genie of mischief in the household. With the three of them hatching plans in complete secrecy and running through the rooms, my feeble protests are quickly ignored. Every time he visits us (which is quite often) the two boys refuse to acknowledge my presence; they don’t hear me or they only speak through him!

They have told me, on many occasions, in no uncertain terms that I’m not to accompany them when they go out with Azoba. They plan outings and I’m suddenly unwelcome at the nearby park, which we visit everyday. They only want Azoba to go with them. All that we do on Azoba-less days is suddenly not cool. They don’t want to go to school or eat or practice music or do their homework.

In his defence, my father insists that he is completely innocent and blameless, that all that he and the boys do is normal and that I overreact all the time. Even when caught red-handed in their mischief. If I stop them then I’m the spoilsport and a world-class bad girl. Plus I’m also treated to the drama of wounded soldiers.

Over time I’ve realized I’m fighting a lost battle and that I should turn blind and deaf every time my father visits us and hope everything gets back to normal on Azoba-less days. What is a poor mother to do when grandfathers visit?

The author is a communications professional and works for The Public Health Foundation of India. Apart from public health she has an abiding interest in the digital lives of young children and health communication. She can be reached at [email protected].

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