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India Burinig a love story between America and India

As a baby she knew love and only the love of her grandfather would help her to fly.
As a baby she knew love and only the love of her grandfather would help her to fly.
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

She spent the summer of 1975 with her grandparents. She especially loved her grandfather, Hitesh Modi, whom everyone seemed to be afraid of. He seldom let anyone see him drop his guard. He was the authoritarian who had the last word on mostly everything. He made a lot of money as a lawyer for the government. He took very good care of his children. When his daughter fell in love with the American soldier grandfather would not accept it and when the marriage took place he sat in his house for one solid year in protest of it. That his daughter would not marry an Indian professional and instead took an American with no future, as he described it, was devastating to him. What would it look like to others? Indeed that he had no control over his family…that his children disrespected him to this degree was a painful smack in grandfather’s face. Shortly later, after Charisse’s father was killed the grandmother came to the states to stay with her pregnant daughter. When she went back to India she showed her husband pictures of the beautiful baby that was also their granddaughter. The old man softened and cried. He missed his daughter and wanted to hold the baby and see her. He saw all of his children in Charisse’s face. Grandfather came to America for the first time to be with her. He laughed and held her for hours. The family could not understand why he was so interested and attached to this baby. No one would ask him for fear of him telling them that it doesn’t matter why he liked her so much.

Charisse was the first of many grandchildren that would come into the old man’s life. What he couldn’t do with his children he was able to do with his grandchildren. He set up scholarships for each one for their education. He hoped that they would all study law. He liked England for them to live and study so he could stay near to them.

When Charisse returned as a teenager they were still close. They would play the piano together and cross word puzzles. From a roof in the country house for the family they would let loose two kites and watch while they shared dreams. Grandfather always wanted to be a bird that flew over the town. He would tell her of his dreams not to be a lawyer but to break the law and to fly away turning into a bird while everyone chased him into the sky. Of course they would not be able to get him and he would laugh.

“Great kites are like great people,” he would tell her. “They fly, fly, fly higher and higher and go their own way with no limits. They see the sky like life and keep going and one day the string breaks and they know that they will be okay because the string cut loose when the kite itself got too far into its life to stay attached to the string.” She would listen to his stories that involved trees and branches that break when they are ready to or her favorite was about a poor man who had a wealthy house guest. The man was ashamed that he had no money to feed everyone and so he gave up his dinner every day to feed the guest. Finally, the guest wanted to know why the man didn’t have dinner with him. The man said that he ate during the day when in fact went out at night when everyone was sleeping and ate berries off trees to keep himself from starving to death. One night, the poor man fell out of a tree and was paralyzed. The wealthy man found out about it and told him that he needed to be honest and then he would have been able to walk. The story was clear to her that if she doesn’t have something there is no need to be ashamed. No matter what it is in life, it is always best to tell the truth as a lie will eventually be found out and even hurt you. The family could never figure out why the relationship between his American grandchild was so important to the old man. Mother and grandmother did not care why, they were just happy that they found each other.