Malay Mukherjee is the father and father-in-law of Muktesh Mukherjee and Bai Xiaomo. The married couple, parents of two young boys, were returning from a vacation in Vietnam when the plane disappeared. The pair married in Montreal, but were raising their family in Beijing at the time of the accident.
Sitting in his Beijing hotel room, the soft-spoken grandfather pulled out his iPad, which has served the twin purpose of looking up news about the desperate search for the plane and looking at photos of his family.
"That's what keeps us awake," he said, his fingers hovering over a picture of his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
"It's not a simple responsibility of looking after children who are three years and seven years. It's a whole lifetime which is left for them."
Mukherjee told the CBC's Andrew Lee that both of the boys are anxious, but understand the situation differently. The older brother knows the plane crashed. The younger clings to the idea of seeing his parents again.
"It's their innocence that propels you to put your emotions on the back burner," Mukherjee said.
Managing the family's emotions has been difficult, Mukherjee said, especially in the absence of concrete evidence.
"We understand that while hope is good to have, you have to be prepared for the worst," he said.
"And to that extent, 33 days have gone with no inkling of what has happened, which makes it very difficult to continue believing in miracles."
Mukherjee said he had hoped the Malaysian prime minister's announcement that the plane had been "lost" in a remote part of the Indian Ocean would bring closure, but it hasn't.
Now he's counting on the discovery of wreckage — as well as the plane's black box — so he can move on with his life, which now includes giving full-time care to his grandchildren.
"'What have I done to deserve this?' That's the question you keep asking. But at the same time, we also have to know that it's a change of the world for us."Suggest a correction