Beyond Love

March 02, 2009
Kavita Chhibber

My life has been a sonata of myriad colors and memories, the notes filled with resonance and beauty, and the emotion that fills me, is so far beyond just love. When I invited people to go beyond romantic love and honor special moments and special people for my emag last month, no matter how fleeting their presence in our lives I wondered if a special day was enough capture a few of those gems from the story of my life; a life so interlinked with that of so many loving souls? And yet every moment-is as good a time to recognize some of those special people and special moments.

They were both so distinctly different. One the diplomat, the patient one, the other blunt, hot headed and dominant. And they both left a lasting imprint on my heart, my mind, my intellect-and my soul.

Can I capture again, in the palm of my hand, their faces, the lines deepening not just with laughter, but the years that gently embraced them. Those lines that recreated the past, the present and the future for me.

Can I again stop and remember, believing that the memories that come flooding back won’t find a reason to escape through the tears in my eyes?

They were not famous, and yet celebrating their lives today makes me realize the immeasurable wealth they poured into mine-years of unconditional love, of laughter, creating a world of magical stories, transporting me to worlds I never knew existed.

Savitri and Saraswati-my two grandmothers. They taught me so much about sacrifice, generosity of heart, immeasurable patience, their pride in being women of substance. One faced adversities at a young age, and raised six sons single handedly, in a way that would put many authorities on child rearing to shame. What Saraswati, my paternal grand mother, a young widow, brought to the table was, to never let her sons forget to always be proud of themselves, to remember that they were lesser to none, and that the true measure of their worth would be only when they stood in front of the mirror and liked what they saw. She taught them to be honorable, upright, disciplined, to not take injustice either for themselves or others lying down, and to give everything their best shot, Above all, she taught her six sons to love each other more than anything else-and they do-to this day. There were days when she and her sons lived in a one room tenement after partition of India and Pakistan surviving on barley soup for days.

My grandmother, lived to see all of her sons excel and do well. Two of her sons became military generals; one the Governor of the State she lived in for the longest time. For her the wheel came a full circle when that son, the youngest child, came to the same spot where he sat so many years ago, as a little boy on a steel trunk outside a refugee camp not knowing what his fate would be-to cut a ribbon as the Governor of that very State and it was her picture that the major newspaper chose to splash across its front page. She lived to be a 104, lucid and alert and engaged in everything around her till the end.

Savitri, my maternal grandmother, was born in the lap of luxury, married a man who was brilliant and well to do but became a young widow like the other one. She was the greatest influence in my life. I spent all my summer vacations with her and when my father, a military man stayed away in remote areas, where his family could not be with him, my mom would come and stay with her. From her, I learnt to love books, from her I learnt to sing hymns, and pray to her favorite Gods. She loved Rama because to her he epitomized the perfect man. She frowned on Krishna, calling him a playboy. There was not a single picture of him in our house, though funnily she named one of her son Krishna and none Rama! Go figure.

She taught me to be proud of myself in a country that considered women second rate citizens. She was fearless, independent, hot headed and incredibly well read and sharp. She refused to live with any of her sons, preferring her own family home, where two of her sons decided to come and live with her. Every night, she would tell me stories from Indian mythology, go watch Bollywood films with me that she didn’t like much, encourage me to read as many books as I could and told me I was her most special grandchild. I still remember how she would come running out, her long hair flowing on her back, when we would come to visit and spend our summer vacations in her home to give me the biggest hug. I remember the nights she stayed up scratching my back when I had measles and chicken pox and was itchy all over. I remember the fragrance of the many jasmine plants that enveloped us as we all pulled our beds outside on her huge lawn and all the grandkids slept around her as she regaled us with stories under a full moon.

She died when she was only 62 and I a young teenager, who wasn’t told about her death for days until after she was cremated. Years have passed and I still don’t have closure. I miss them both to this day and I hope some day I will be as cool a grandmother as they were.

My hero has always been my dad. I strive to be as classy, as smart, as honorable, and as giving as him-and I wish I was half as good looking, but I fall short by miles. Almost all my memories of my father are either of him spoiling me or of telling amazing stories to us, as my sister and I lay next to him completely riveted. Little did we know he would make them up on the spot. He is a man of few words, but each word has its weight in gold. He is one of the most perceptive, far sighted people I know. He has always been right about everything and while mom and I and others have grumbled when he has put his foot down about something, we have had to eat humble pie soon after because he was right-yet again!

Strangely all my memories of my father, a tough military man are that of being Mr. Mom. If I was sick, it was dad who stayed up all night and took my temperature, paced the floor till the fever broke, took time off from work, to play board games or cards with me, while mom was much more relaxed. He has such tremendous respect for women because his biggest role model was his mother and as a result he pampered my mother to the hilt as well, nurturing her talents and finding something to appreciate even in her flaws. And he is a tough act to follow.

My mom was and is a spoilt brat! She is the youngest of six siblings, so her dad spoilt her and then did her older brothers and sisters. She then got married into a family of six boys and my dad spoilt her. She does what she wants but has supported my dad and his going overboard with helping others, giving both time and money ( even when there wasn’t enough for us, and mom had to go to work), with resigned disbelief at times, with pride at others;, but even when they disagree they kinda like each other. Theirs is one of the best marriages that I have seen and I find it funny how when they complain about each other they start laughing and then forget what it was.

All my brothers and sisters, are incredibly special people. They have protected me, encouraged me, and watched over me. They have appreciated my achievements and lifted me up when I was down, but letting me make my own mistakes. I realized how lucky I was much later when I saw even siblings by blood squabbling over property and money, with envy and jealousy rearing their ugly head. I always go home to my amazing family and extended family, and they put everything on the back burner to create a magical world of incessant laughter, amazing food, endless love, filling my suitcases with generous gifts till they creak at the seams.

With the exception of one amazing woman, Anees Jung, an amazing writer and human being- all my mentors have been outstanding men, starting with my brother Parvez. The rest have adopted me as their daughter, or kid sister, or close friend, showed me the way to excel and opened doors for me to walk in and prove myself and taken immense pride when I delivered without any expectations, that I would live up to the potential they saw in me and wanted to nurture.

Most of the celebrities I have interviewed through the years have been very generous with their time, and sharing of themselves. Many have become close friends, and I have been inspired by their achievements, touched by their humility and their continued affection whenever we meet or interact.
But its some of the people like you and me, who I have interviewed, who have taught me some amazing lessons. That would be mean many blogs in the future.

My close friends have been there for me for more than 2 decades and more. I’m still in touch with many who I have known since I was a toddler. They have been there with me through the best of times and the worst of times and the one thing that has been constant is their constancy. They know who they are and they know I cherish everyone of them.

I wrote this earlier, but I think it’s the greatest truth in my life and so I will say this again in the end.

Every experience in my life has taught me something. The good ones that there are so many miracles at every step, and so much goodness all around-and that it’s not just a matter of perception.

The bad ones have taught me that it is all a matter of perception. People are never bad, its circumstances, their own insecurities and issues that make them react in a negative way. I have never seen a happy person act mean or unkind.

My work transports me to a world that changes on a daily basis and I learn something new every single day. And I have met innumerable people that have inspired me and amazed me. I have learned that the human spirit at its best, can soar to heights you cannot even begin to imagine. It has taught me that the possibilities remain endless.

KAVITA CHHIBBER is an accomplished freelance writer and media personality. She is well-known for her in-depth interviews of celebrities, authors and public officials. She also writes hard-hitting news articles and cover stories for publications. You can get a full range of her work and her interests (including astrology!) at KavitaChhibber.com.
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March 2, 2009
02:09 PM

That was beautiful! Thank you! :)

March 2, 2009
11:53 PM

That was a heart-warming account.

How much simpler those days must have been, when people were more comfortable in their gender-defined roles and didn't have to feel ashamed of their patriotism, or worry about drawing moral equivalency between India and its enemies.

I am sure the same blood of patriotism that your dad had lived by flows in your veins too!

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