Sunday, January 10, 2016

Two Grandfathers; two approaches

She was quietly sitting there, watching her daughter taking part in the parade at school held on the occasion of "Grandparents Day". There were about 50 children in the parade and there were parents as well as grandparents. The parade concluded and all visitors moved to the area serving refreshments. We were on the same table now, sharing cup cakes and fruits. "Did your grandparents also attend such an event when you were in school?", I asked.

She was surprised at the question, but replied with a smile. "There was no celebration of "Grandparents day" in the days when I was in school", she said. After a moment she added, "I wish there was one".

"Do you have any memories of your Grandfather?" was my next question.

"Oh, I have many fond memories of both my granddads", she replied enthusiastically.

"Can you recall any of them?", I asked. What she recalled is in her own words.


My maternal grandfather was a well known writer and social worker. He was associated with many organizations working at different levels. He would be busy, attending some event or the other every day. Whenever he was at home, there would a number of visitors. When we visited his house and he was free from all other activities, he had time for us, his grandchildren. He appeared very strict in his dealings with others and initially we were not very free with him. As we started growing up, we understood him better. He always dressed in white and was simple in his habits. He was also a very good speaker. When he spoke in the meetings and functions, there would be pin drop silence. As kids we did not understand what all he spoke, but it made us feel happy. His way of life taught us discipline in our daily lives. Towards the latter part of our association with him, we were more relaxed and played with him. 

He was a good cards player and allowed us to play with him. Children being associated with a card game was not liked in those days, but his view was different. He was firm in his conviction that any game on its own is not bad at all. It becomes bad only when betting and wagers were allowed to creep in. He held a view that playing cards sharpens one's brain and is good for growing children. Rules to be followed during the game were announced at the beginning and we were taught to follow the rules strictly. It was difficult to win while playing with him. But occasionally we won a game and it made us very happy. We later realized that at times he would deliberately let go a card needed by us to enable us to win a game. 

My paternal grandfather was a teacher and lived in a distant place. We saw him when we visited his place or when he visited us. He was a master storyteller and had a story for every occasion. There was never a dull moment when he was around. He had a joke or anecdote for all seasons. He was comfortable with any age group. Once I cooked a meal and served him. I wanted to know how he felt about it. I knew it was not like what my mother or my grandmother cooked. He silently had the meal and did not say anything. I was excited and asked him about his assessment of my cooking. "You have passed in first class. I gave you 60 per cent marks", he said. "When will I get more marks?", I asked. "You keep on improving and you will get higher marks", he said. With the urge to get better marks I took more interest in cooking. Once he gave me 90 marks and I was very happy. "Grandpa, when will I get hundred per cent?", I asked. " The maximum you get is 90 percent. Your mother gets 95 per cent.  Full marks are only for your grandmother!", he said smilingly.  

He taught me some popular games played in the villages. One of them was "HuliGhatta" or "Tiger and the goats". There were four tigers and goats used in the game. The goats have to restrict the movement of tigers to win. Tiger has to jump and kill goats to win. He would always win, irrespective of whether we chose to be tigers or goats. Once I told him that my other grandfather let go cards to enable us to win. "I want you to win on your own without any outside support. With practice you will win one day against me as well. Concentrate and practice hard. You will succeed", he said. He added mischievously, "If I let you win once, it will be easy for you thereafter. Once you start winning, you will never play with me!" 

"Which of the two approaches was better, allowing you to win occasionally or making you win on your own?", I asked.

She thought for a moment and replied. "I feel both approaches were good in their own way. One believed in a small dose of encouragement to motivate to do better. The other approach taught that nothing came easy and one has to strive hard to achieve anything in life. I have learnt from both approaches and use it alternately to suit the occasions."

As we moved into the parking lot to board our respective cars, she looked back and said, "The two approaches were the two faces of the same coin. Weren't they?"

Instead of replying her question, I smiled and said: "Your grandson or granddaughter may give you full marks for cooking!"

I tend to agree with her view that both approaches of the grandfathers were two faces of the same coin.  Do you?   


  1. Lovely. Can almost imagine Bhav narrating it.

  2. as usual beautifully described. i only lament that grand parents of today are not as communicative as their grand parents were!

  3. the story of the two approches is well narrated. onfortunately today's grand parents are in a higher age group and as such are not as communicative as their own were! as usual Sri. Keshavamurthi excels in the art of telling stories.

  4. "Grand story" about the Grand parents and the TWO techniques used by both are equally important. Though Maternal Grand Father was more considerate and encouraging, paternal Grand Father was very tough and wants the grand children to come up on their own and self made. So it is very difficult to say which is better.

  5. Well narrated Sir. I remembered one old proverb after reading your blog. 'You give a man a fish, he will eat for the day; but you teach him how to catch a fish, he will eat for life'. I hope your story includes this message.

  6. Very well narrated, I was imagining Anna and Pattabhi Ramaiah while reading this.

  7. Fully agree - Both approaches are two sides of the same coin At the tender age, paternal grand father's approach may be discouraging to the child, but will be of long term benefit. So, initially, the approach of maternal Grand father will be helpful and as the child evinces interest, then as a long term plan the second approach will help. Well narrated Keshav.

  8. I appreciate both the approaches. Good in their own way. But I read a comment that grandparents of the present generation are not that communicative. But hold on, the question is do grandchildren of today have time for their grandparents? Grandparents of any generation are treasure houses of knowledge. It is left to the seekers (grandchildren). Today's grandchildren are more attached to electronic gadgets than to their grandparents. Moreover, how many grandchildren of today are "fortunate" enough to have their grandparents staying with them? - Raghunandan V J, Faculty, MAB.

  9. I appreciate both the approaches. Effective in their own way. But I would like to respond to a comment made - grandparents of present generation are not that communicative. My question is - how many grandchildren in the present generation stay connected to their grandparents? They are more attached to the electronic gadgets rather than to the grandparents. Grandparents - this generation, earlier generation or even the next generation - will remain the same. Always ready to be communicative. How many grandchildren these days are "fortunate" enough to have their grandparents living with them?