Eight years to the day since my maternal grandfather passed away. I almost forgot what today was. I cannot believe how much time has passed since 2003. I always thought I’d remember and mark the day in some small way. This morning, unusually, I woke up early, 6.30 to be precise, and decided that I would try and kill the shruthi’s-always-late cliché and reach office before my designer did. It was when I went to pack my lunch did my aunt tell me, “It’s apupa’s death day today, will you come home for lunch, I’ve made his favourite things.”
It was only then that the significance of the date sink in. I was shocked that I had forgotten, puzzled that I would forget, but then again I’m constantly monologuing with myself all the time, so I’m not surprised in the least.
I’m a little clueless about what one does in remembrance of a loved one. Is only remembering enough?
He would have been 90 this year if he had lived. Some part of me misses him every single time I do something important, like get a master’s degree for instance. To my grandfather, Sid and I were special beings that were given to him so he could look after us and generally gush about our awesomeness. I remember going home after winning this lame prize at MCC. It was a Rs.100 cash prize for a collage thingy and my grandfather thought it deserved mention at all dinners for the rest of the week. He was cool like that. Every little victory, every little thing mattered to him and I think it’s an awesome trait to have possessed.
He was his happiest when we were eating, laughing, gossiping, talking and he sat at the head of the table.
The only time he ever lost his temper was to tell us exactly what he thought of Nehru. As a Lieutenant in the INA, my grandfather never thought much of the non-Subash Chandra Bose way of freedom fighting and leadership.
Onam was another time of year when my grandfather was in his elements. For some reason, he never really understood why cutting vegetables for avvial was so difficult. My grandmother and my mother were constantly being quizzed about how far the cooking had come and why the avvial was looking so suspiciously badly cut. My grandfather was great at giving instructions about food. He's the reason behind our slightly mad love for food.
He was fascinated by his youngest grandchild, Prem. A tiny, then two-year-old, boy who insisted that my grandfather swallow his medicines one by one, insisting that only he knew how to give apupa medicine.
Somewhere in the rut that is my life and my ranting, I’ve forgotten my grandfather’s smile. His silence. His joy in simple things.
For him taking Sid along for a haircut and getting conned into buying more Frooti than necessary meant more than a lot of things.
His children and grandchildren were his whole world. To them he bequeathed just one thing, unity under any and all forms of sometimes over-stressful diversity.