The Two Most Important People In My Life

By Anceeta Martis - October 22, 2019

My parents were not with me during two of my formative years. I spent those two years in a tiny village in India being cared for by my maternal grandparents. When I turned five, I moved to Bahrain with my parents. I vividly remember going to my parents' office as a child and during one such afternoon being asked by their colleague whom I loved more, my parents or my grandparents. Without a moment's hesitation, I replied: my grandparents!

Of course, my grandparents!

These two wonderful individuals are the reason I am what I am today. They were farmers and lead a very honest, hardworking life. My grandfather was a man of principles who used to ride his bicycle (an environmentalist without even trying!) into town for our daily grocery shopping well into his late 70s. My grandmother was a loud, vivacious woman who could stand up to a thousand people at the same time and hold her own. I am proud to say that I learnt to swear from her.

They had a simple routine that they followed till the end of their lives. They woke up to pick flowers which were then tied into garlands to be sold. Breakfast was served for all (workers arrived early to do the farm work) and then elevenses (rice at 11AM!). Lunch was a proper affair with fish and veggies and definitely some yogurt for my grandfather no matter what. And then, get this, they took a nap! (In a world where we are all constantly rushing, theirs was a life I envy.) Afternoon work resumed, everybody has afternoon tea and the workers leave. This afternoon tea was a grand affair when we visited during our summer holidays but when I was a child, I used to wake up from my nap and have some biscuits. How English of my grandmother in the village!

Before dinner, we would have an aperitif. Yes, including the kids because alcohol helps with digestion (though, I think she just wanted us to go to sleep)! Dinner was again rice or some bread and that was the end of the day.

In the two years I was with them, between the ages of three and five, I was taught to be independent, self-soothe, fish, use my imagination to keep myself busy and to live freely. I was allowed to wander off, learn how to farm, and visit the neighbours.

My love for animals is definitely from my grandfather. He did not want to keep dogs on leashes because the dogs whined. The cats of the house were always around his legs. He used to pet the animals, including the cows, and make them feel loved. My heart weeps at the thought of the love he was yet to give them.

My brusqueness is definitely from my grandmother who shouted at basically everyone and for everything. Yet, she was a generous, giving woman who always took care of those around her. If she had something, she would give to her children, grandchildren, the caretakers and the workers. She was as soft on the inside as she was hard on the outside.

These two wonderful people leave behind a legacy of their kindness, generosity and love. Even now when I mention that I am Albert and Natalia Sequeira's granddaughter, people recognise me. Such is the respect that they still enjoy in spite of not being there anymore.

Sometimes, I lie awake at night and I cannot believe that I won't see them or talk to them anymore. But I'm glad knowing the rich life they lived and the love that still pours for them from all those who knew them. My Aba and Mai. 💓

Photo by: Roshan Madtha

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