#FridayReflections – Happy 90th Baba!
My paternal grandfather, Baba was born today and we lost him when he was 72. His death was one of my first brushes with mortality. As a teenager, that was the first time I witnessed what being taken away for the last journey means. It hit me hard and the memory of that day still remains.
I have always admired Baba for the values that he brought to the family. He was a man with a school of thought that appeared to be old, but in reality, it wasn’t. He was practical in his approach and what we thought was conservative was keeping up with the times that those were.
A single breadwinner for a big family, he had a style of his own. White shirts and white trousers made up his wardrobe and he never stepped out with that black pen in his pocket. A shining broad forehead and white scanty hair. Those black framed glasses and that intellectual look showed what profession he came from. He retired as Head of Political Science department and Dean of the University and his presence commanded respect amongst peers.
An almirah full of his favorite things like dry fruits and maggi was always locked to be opened only when grandchildren visited. Being the eldest and obedient of all, I had the opportunity to pick what I wanted. Not once, but every single time. A diabetic, he saved toffees for us and sometimes for himself.
Affection is not just in words but in actions and he was the one who knew how to bring the family together. For every festival and family celebration, we were asked to reach home. The real home. No other conversation followed over that call and all we knew afterwords was packing to leave immediately. I don’t remember celebrating Holi or Diwali at Azamgarh but with the larger family – not just once but every single time.
An eloquent orator and one who could argue his point, Papa and he used to talk a lot. On politics, children and education. I don’t remember much but I know those moments were heated with emotions but they were fun. It was a connection between a father and a son. How can I forget his quality to call a spade a spade. Without apprehensions of any sort, he spoke nothing but his mind. In wedding receptions or at home, he never hesitated.
When I passed my 10th standard, I remember being told how proud he was of me and how no one else in the family had scored in the 80s. Now there I was sulking on not being able to do well and his words made me smile. Religious, a food lover and disciplined, he used to reward Mum in cash for making kebabs.
If he were around, I am sure he would have been happy with the choices I made in my life. He wanted grandchildren to marry within religion and I am sure he would have been happy to know VT as a person. Inter-caste but still within religion. He wanted good education for all of us and I know he would have been proud to know what I do for living.
I tell many that I was lucky to spend so much time with my grandparents and I know this is something that I can never miss to mention. The love that’s unconditional, the care that’s genuine and a sense of belonging that comes with grandparents is hard to find elsewhere. Their life stories are unique and reminiscent of the times they have seen. Those years before India became an independent nation tell us things that we wouldn’t read in book.
Happy Birthday! May you score a century is what I once told him over a STD call.
If you were around, you would have been 90 today, Baba!
Writing for Friday Reflections today.