A couple of days ago, at the age of 100 years, 3 months and 2 days, my grandfather passed away. It’s easy, upon hearing his age, to think that we as a family were prepared for his passing, but the truth is that we weren’t. Anyone who had the fortune to meet my grandfather would never have guessed that he was 100+ years old.
Up until two weeks ago, he was still going to work (at our family business) 5 or 6 times a week. Two weeks ago, he was granted his visa to visit the USA, and we were making plans for him to stop over here in London on his way there.
He, on the other hand, was planning his return journey, complete with a stopover for a few days in Hawaii(!)…such was his vigour for life.
I started an internship a couple of weeks ago, and by Wednesday of my second week I was looking forward to the weekend. My granddad never once complained about going to work…in fact he looked forward to it, and the prospect of retirement never even crossed his mind (making it difficult for the 60+ year olds in my family to retire, because they felt guilty!).
My moments of grief since hearing the news have been sporadic and relatively short-lived, and I feel almost guilty for that. But the truth is that I don’t think the full force of his passing will hit me until the next time I set foot in Bangalore and realise that, for the first time in my 23 years of life, he isn’t going to be there in person. Usually, he’d be the first to greet me when I got home from the airport, regardless of whether it was at 11pm (he slept at 9), or 3am. He’d always be wide awake, ready to ask questions – what I ate on the flight, whether I read or watch films, what the weather was like in London. He was a VERY chatty man…so much so, that people (me included) sometimes zoned out while he was talking. Not because he was boring, or we didn’t care, but purely because hearing him use his seemingly never-ending supply of energy was tiring for us.
His memory was impeccable; he’d tell me things about people he’d only met once in London in 1995, that I – despite seeing these people regularly – didn’t know myself. I never got sick of hearing how he met Mahatma Gandhi, and how Gandhi (apparently) had huge hands and feet. He never beat around the bush, and yet never alienated people either. He truly had mastered the art of building bonds with people, regardless of their age, occupation or origin.
On my desk lies a letter I had been writing him. I was going to give it to my sister to give to him when she left to India on Saturday morning, but on Friday night we got the phone call. I don’t know what to do with that letter now.
I could go on and on and on, but there are not enough words to describe how much he meant to me and the rest of my family. And even if there were, I wouldn’t be able to find those words myself.
I just hope that wherever he is, he knows that he is going to be sorely missed by every member of the 3 generations of our family right now. And I also hope he knows that each of us will ensure that future generations will grow up to know, adore and revere him as much as we did.
Rest in peace, Thatha.
P.S. – My cousin wrote about him too. You can read it, here.
P.P.S – My granddad was in the newspaper last year. Here is the article.