A new milestone and some old memories

With the last post, i just crossed the 20th post milestone on this blog and it had to coincidentally fall on this day. While it is still 29th October here in the US, it is 30th October in New Zealand, Australia, India, UK and i before i post this, the date will change in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It is a good day today, i am sure tomorrow will be better but it wasn’t always. Not ten years ago because that was the day i lost my only grandfather to the heavens above. He was the only grandfather i had since my mother’s dad died many years before my parents had me. It would have been nice to know him but i wouldn’t know what it would be like. Sometimes, i think if my maternal grandpa ever came in front of me, what would i say to him? *Awkward silence, maybe?*

I remember the entire series of events in the run up to my paternal grandfather’s funeral vividly. I was in 12th Grade. The most crucial time in an Indian student’s life. The scores you get decide your fate on if you are worthy to be accepted into Medical School or Engineering v/s everything else. I have fond memories of going each year during summer vacations to Abba, as well would all call him. Abba’s house would be the most fun place to be. It was a gathering of cousins from within and outside the country. A time to do MASTI as much as we pleased and not be afraid of our respective mom’s wrath. This was the time we could make unrealistic demands for chocolates, knowing fully well that they would be all granted. I remember two of my cousins would get special treatment for being closest to grandpa (one extra chocolate bar for them) Haha… (I hope i don’t spill some well kept family secrets here).

I think my grandpa was a binding force in some ways. I loved him dearly, we’d play cards and he would always cheat his way through. He would put on an act and unabashedly cheat but he didn’t realize, he had some very smart grand kids who would catch him each time. Smart to catch him but not smart or old enough to know he was doing it all on purpose. I’d follow him around like a tail. If he’d be going to feed the cows, be sure, i’d be two steps behind him. I learned of my love for animals there. Watching him feed the hens, cat, dog, cows. I learned to do all those, i almost learned to milk a cow, had the calf not freaked out and the cow tried to kick me.

He loved to make up stories and had a very active and imaginative mind for a man who had barely any education. He studied until grade 4. He loved to write and if i knew Kannada i would have probably known what his deepest thoughts were. We knew he had been sick for a while and needed constant care and attention. He was a lucky man, even on his death bed, he had the opportunity to be served by all his kids and when it was time for the last one to go back and the first kid to relieve her of her duties is when he decided he’d go on his final journey.

I had a test that day, it was math and it was probably one of the only times i came home smiling after a math test. My parents seemed sad like they had cried. I couldn’t understand what was happening and then they told me. I couldn’t believe it. My brain couldn’t process it, it was too much for me to take. So i sat there emotionless. We took the first train out of Mumbai to my grandpa’s home. On the train, we met another family that was travelling due to their sudden loss. The woman was inconsolable but her tears did nothing for me. They definitely evoked some tears in my mom’s eyes and they both mutually tried to console each other. Once we reached grandpa’s house, it was for the very first time, different, there was an air of silence. The arm chair he sat on was empty. There was no one waiting for me by the door and calling out my name. It was glum.

I still was okay until the point the cask was brought in through the doorway and there i stood and watched men bring my first ever hero home, still, lifeless and embalmed with formaldehyde. I saw his face and that was the last thing i saw for about an hour after. Tears rushed down my eyes like a dam had been opened. It was a flood, the worst kind ever and i managed to drench my dad’s shirt on the torso area completely. I then remember being consoled by my aunts but i cried and cried like a baby. I still have the cross he held in his hand and the rosary too as they threw it out on the ground during the burial. I have kept them as a remembrance. Symbolism can be good sometimes and even if you took these symbols away from me – nothing could take the memories away. Memories of my grandpa are probably, one of the oldest and best i’ve had. He lived a good life. We were hoping we’d be lucky to celebrate his 90th birthday but he died at the ripe age of 89. He lived a life of dignity, integrity and respect and that’s something i want to emulate, through how i live my life.

He was a strong believer of education and it’s power and encouraged learning. That’s when i decided to dedicate my education in his honor. He was a storyteller and i now realize, maybe, my love for writing could be in the blood. I never thought about it before this day but now it seems to make sense. I wish and hope he is having a fun time up there. After all he was the coolest old man i ever knew. He was named after the Archangel Raphael. The name itself means “God is a healer” and while i know i have healed, the scar remains as a morbid memory of what we’ve lost. We miss you Abba!


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