The past weeks have easily been the most painful weeks of my 25 years of existence. The loss of my beloved grandpa or ‘Thatha’ as I used to call him, has left behind a void that can never be filled.On July 2nd this year, the worst fear of my life, one that I have dreaded every day of my life, came true when my otherwise robust and healthy grandpa slipped into a coma induced by a fever that lasted for less than 2 days. He breathed his last in peace, unaware of the pain that was eating away his life. For a life so nobly lived, any other form of death would have been blasphemous.
I still remember that summer day in 1994, when he saw me writing a story, sitting by the water tank behind our home. He immediately insisted that I post the story to Champak, my favourite fortnightly magazine during those days. Half an hour later, I was posting my handwritten story into an envelope, while my grandpa proudly told the village postmaster that his granddaughter was a budding writer. If not for him, I, a fourth grader at that time, would never have had the courage to pursue my hobby seriously. Five years later, when my first article got published in THE HINDU, I proudly showed it to my grandpa. Half the village knew about it when I reached there for my 9th grade summer vacations! The summer nights were spent in our front yard, lying next to him, watching the sky, full of stars and listening to his stories, full of knowledge and wisdom. My grandfather was a farmer. A man who tilled his land to fill his stomach. But the knowledge he had of the outside world and the keen interest he expressed in learning more, was rarely surpassed by any other gentleman his age. His collection of books was amazing and he spent all his free hours reading and re-reading his favourite books. For someone who held the responsibility of running such a huge family, pursuing hobbies would be a distant dream. But my grandpa made time for his books and remained a student right up to his last days, learning all that he could from them.
At my grandfather’s funeral, many a stranger’s eyes wept as he was laid down to rest. Later, standing there, alone, and lost in the crowd, I overheard stories of how he had helped the poor labourers in the village conduct the weddings at their home, by buying the mangalsutra( The Indian equivalent of a wedding ring, it’s a chain worn by the married Indian women) for their daughters. My grandfather was no rich man himself, but he always had enough to spare for a needy soul. If anyone of us can live up to a fraction of what my grandpa has done, we will earn ourselves a happy place in heaven. That is how selfless this man was.
Every important milestone in my life was achieved in his presence and he always made it a point to discuss my plans each time I met him. He enquired after my working hours, my team, where I would have my lunch, was it safe to stay out late? Considering the fact that I worked in the software industry, one would believe that my job would be alien to him. But my grandpa floored me completely when he spoke about the board of directors of the company I worked at, how much profit we had made that year etc. He had his own quiet way of knowing things. Understated, sophisticated and perfect.
He was 84 this year. And even at this age, he refused to give up tilling his land and attended to his fields with utmost love and devotion. He was the King in our lives, the Supreme Court of our family, our very own Majesty. His dignified presence added a strange kind of divinity to any family gathering. Not one person in the house had the courage to raise his voice is my grandpa’s presence. Not out of fear, for my grandpa never raised his voice himself, but out of the respect that my grandpa so naturally deserved. Our home in the village now echoes with silence and each time someone laughs in the courtyard, a little part of me hopes it’s my grandpa.
He has left behind my lovely grandmother, who has been the pillar of strength is my grandpa’s life. It breaks my heart to watch her weep in sorrow at her loss. My pain is incomparable to hers. Theirs was a strong, happy, married life of close to 60 years that lasted the test of time. They have been through the happiness, the sorrow, the pain and the laughter together, sharing everyday of their lives in each other’s presence. Theirs was a special kind of relation that needed no exchange of words for a message to be conveyed. One glance, one look at each other and they would have spoken a million words between themselves. In their own special way, my grandparents were deeply in love with each other and that true love reflected in everything that they did. My strong belief in the institution of marriage stems from the divine union of my grandparents that has unfolded the true sanctity of a marriage right before our eyes. It hurts me deeply to watch one half of this strong bond now gone. But it’s a transitory phase in this world. True bonds of love carry on to attain eternity in the other world and I am sure my grandparents love will continue to live forever.
With him gone, a huge part of my emotional strength has been drained. Not a day goes by without fervently wishing for him to come back. Death’s finality is finally seeping into my head. But the fact that my grandpa has gone to a better place, rightly deserved by him for all the good deeds that he did during his lifetime, gives me solace. And the fact that I was lucky to have Him as my Grandfather and spend 25 years of my life under his guidance and care makes me feel proud. I thank God for giving me the best grandpa in the world and pray that I get him back as my child someday, so that I can do unto him, all that he has done for me.
During his lifetime, my grandpa was a living God. Now, he is God himself and I find myself going to bed every night, directing my prayers and wishes to him. He never left any of my wishes unfulfilled and now I rest in peace with the belief that He will answer my prayers and continue to keep us under his able care.
When you were around, I never really thanked you and I know you never expected it either. But Thatha, thanks for being a part of my life. I cannot put into words how much I miss you right now. Someday, we will be united. Until then, continue to be with me and give me the strength to face life without you. Love you with all my heart.....