This is the story of a man and a little girl. A story which is not uncommon yet beautiful.
Let’s get started. This little girl grew up at his place. The ‘home’ was a heaven; tall trees-mango, neem and pomegranate surrounded it. A large courtyard with roses, jasmine, hibiscus and some wild flowers. Inside; bedrooms with beautiful windows. Every morning sunlight came streaming in, waking everyone up. A big cupboard with books- Dickens, Tolstoy, Twain, The Bronte Sisters and countless other authors. The terrace was always the place for any sleepover.
The school was just a 10 minute walk. After school hours, she would spend the whole day playing with him- he was the student and she was the teacher (with a stick in her hand!!!). In reality, he taught her. Everything which is immensely useful, practical and enjoyable. He taught her the Indian mythology and how to be polyglot. He taught her how to speak fearlessly in every language he knew. He introduced her to the amazing world of books, read out stories and encouraged her to do the same. He bought her brain teasers and puzzles. He introduced her to the world of politics, and taught her The Indian Constitution when she was 8 years old.
He took her to temples and churches, and made her believe there was one God. Even now, she can only imagine God as a light of great intensity. She learnt to appreciate things- simple things like a flower in full bloom or a starry night. Or the smell of the earth after the first rain.
The girl loved him and adored him with all her heart. He was the force behind her. The positive boost for any new venture of hers. She found in him a source of courage and inspiration. And she could never imagine a life without him. As fate would have it, he died a week before her 11th birthday. She was shattered, smashed and broken. She was in denial. That was the first time she had come face to face with a tragedy and he wasn’t there to help her. She didn’t believe the fact that she is never going to see him again; or live without his love and guidance. Her life changed radically after that. She could live her entire life with those memories. But she knew he would have wanted her to move ahead in life. So she moved on.
That girl is a young adult now, and co-incidentally she is also the one writing this. That little girl was me and the man was none other than my grandfather. He is the person who made me; the reason I am here. I don’t know how many kids still have that kind of a bond with their grandparents, but I am convinced that you can never have a complete childhood without them. It seems like they are preparing you for life. And while 11 years is a very short time, it was filled with joy and laughter. Of course there are moments when I miss him so much that I would trade the world for him, but I am also thankful for having him with me in my constructive years.
This is a tribute to him, and a reminder to myself that he will always be watching over me.