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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To My Newborn Granddaughter

Dear Kiara,

You will get to know me eventually, Right now; you are focused on your mother, my daughter. When your Mom learned to stand up, somewhat shakily, she held on to my knee and rocked, listening to the Beatles. I loved your Mom when she was growing up and my life revolved around her. She laughed a lot and I have a cassette that captures her near lunatic laughter. But you will never know what a cassette is

While you spend your early days feeding and sleeping, understand please you have changed our world. Nothing is more important in my life than to spend an hour watching you sleep or to hassle you when you are awake. I must confess, much as I love you like there was no tomorrow, I am not a big fan of your farts and your poop. Your Mom did that too and I had no choice but to deal with it

When your Mom was in my arms, just a few days after John Lennon was murdered, I sang to her the song, Vaishnava Jan,  Mohandas Gandhi made famous. The lyrics were in Gujarati and talked about being a good person: be compassionate, never talk ill about anyone, don’t be vain, et cetera. You will be proud to know that Narasinh Mehta, who wrote the song more than 600 years ago is an ancestor of yours

You should also be thrilled to know that on your grandmother’s side, there were musicians in the 1950s and the 1960s that popularized jazz and rock through Hindi films. On your grandfather’s side, there were great Indian classical musicians and dancers and film stars. I will tell you about them when you grow up. We also have in our family great writers, scientists and people who have made names in business the world over.

On your father’s side there are equally accomplished people: entrepreneurs, architects, artists, professionals and what have you; not to mention one of the most famous actresses in Bollywood. Your Dad will tell you about them.

Your grandmother is widely renowned as a good cook and choral singer. She will teach you the intricacies of piano and classical singing and also all manner of alternative living. Everyone loves her, not just me. Your grandfather, as in me, will introduce you to the joys of reading and writing and activism. I am also happy to teach you swear words but I don’t think that will go down well with the clan on both sides.

Your Mom has a sister you will adore and love mindlessly; she will teach you the joys of casual sophistication. She will snow you with her lovable personality and her ability to handle the world with biting sarcasm and humor. Listen to her; she has a way in the world that I admire; plus she used to live in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Need I say more?

Finally, a word about your Mom: apart from being the most organized person in the family, she is a softie and a traditionalist. I love her and have been close to her since I first held her with as a newborn with guck all over her. She is a superstar..

We love ya and welcome you into both families. You are a superstar plus.

With immeasurable love,
Your Granddad..

PS Just call me “Sir.”