Monday Musings…

You knew this was coming didn’t you?

How could you not…after Sunday Stories, Monday Musings was never far away πŸ˜‰

Oh well, I never said I was particularly original πŸ˜›

If you’ve read this you know yesterday was special to me.

Today is special too. The birthday of another awesome guy, whom I loved and who loved me dearly.

My Grandfather. One of the gentlest, wisest, most selfless men I have ever known. An authentic ‘Gentleman‘. MyΒ Aboda (my name for him is the result of a childish mis-pronunciation of the word for grandfather in Marathi,Β ‘ajoba’), was a true patriarch and an exemplary role model. His soft-spoken ways, his penchant for neatness and order (which my Mom has inherited), his unending store of anecdotes and stories and his wisdom in sticky situations are the stuff of legend in our family and in his tightly knit circle of friends. He played the flute (when I think of it now, his instrument of choice seems so in keeping with the man he was – mellow, soft and yet affirmative), loved animals, books and music (interests that we have all inherited), had a gentle sense of humor and sharp wit. To me he embodied the inherent potential in his nameΒ ‘Atmanand’ (bringer of joy to the soul), and then some. A principled man. Honest to a fault, and always sensitive to the needs of family and friends.

A 10-yr-old me dressed in my first sari with Aboda & Ma.
A 10-yr-old me, dressed in my first sari, with Aboda & Ma.

My own memories of him are all happy! I was very much the pampered first grandchild in a family that loved daughters πŸ™‚ He had a special name for me and the way that made me feel is something I sorely miss, especially when times are rough. He took a keen interest in my education and was terribly proud when I expressed my intentions of studying medicine. He had wanted to be one himself, but circumstances (as so often happened in his generation), didn’t allow it. He bought me all my medical textbooks and when we began Pharmacology (his subject of special interest), he would gift me a copy of that venerable bible of Pharmacology, Goodman & Gilman, every time the latest edition released in print! Not that I ever read it as much as I should have!

When I fell in love with Hubby, my parents were rather difficult. In the manner of most conservative Indian families of the day, they were not fond of love-marriages! It affronted their sense of decency! They were uncertain of his specialization in Preventive & Social Medicine (I know! Splitting hairs! They didn’t really have anything else to object to you see. We belonged to the same caste and he was a doctor from a β€˜good’ family, which loosely meant our families were of equal standing in the community). What did it mean they wondered and was it good enough to put food on the table? Aboda spoke to my Mom and set her mind at ease as no one else could have. He was a father figure to my Mom, whose own father (his older brother), had exited her life when she was just a child. His word was as law to her, not that he would have ever coerced her in any way.

He wasn’t one for travel and yet he showed his wife most of India. When Dad moved to Singapore for work, Mom worked hard to convince him to visit. Although reluctant at first, he did and when then truly enjoyed himself. The simple things were what brought him most pleasure…the mellow sweetness of a papaya, early mornings spent in the garden listening to birdsong, the fragrance of jasmine flowers, restful evenings spent in the company of my brother. He was never one to do the touristy things. He loved being with and surrounded by nature. All through his life he lived by his principles, never compromising his integrity and along with his younger brother, ran a successful business that manufactured chemicals used in the making of perfumes. His clients always spoke highly of him and admired his sense of fair-play.

The Best Grandpa!

That is the man that I miss today; miss and remember. A tiny snapshot as it were of what he meant to me and to our family. In typical fashion, as Life went on, I became busy with my own and didn’t see him as much as I should have, as much as I wanted to. Tragedy struck unexpectedly. The first we knew of it was when his left femur snapped like a twig. I knew then in my heart that this was the beginning of the end and I could see in his eyes, that he knew it too. We didn’t ever say the C-word out loud. There seemed no point – we knew it had spread and he was very clear about not wanting any treatment. He made it through the surgery to fix the femur and seemed to be doing Ok. My aunts nursed him and I visited him as often as I could. He was in typical ‘Aboda’ fashion, deeply apologetic ‘for all this fuss’, as he called it. Only he would still worry about us, when his own body was crumbling away ad in pain. Two months later, he was gone. I remember watching him, in a coma, on life-support in the hospital. The doctor had said, we needed to tell them if we wanted them to revive him, ‘aggressive resuscitation’ they called it, to keep him in the world of the ‘living’, if not truly alive. I knew what I wanted. I wanted him to leave with dignity. The way he had lived his life. We told them our decision. When he passed away, it was akin to the end of an era for our family and for me it was not only a Grandfather lost but also a very dear friend. I remember sobbing like a baby on Hubby’s shoulder as they took him away, bereft, suddenly rudderless, suddenly alone, knowing that the world had irrevocably changed and nothing would ever be the same again.

As time is wont to do, it has enabled me to look back now and celebrate his Life and times on earth and amongst us, with joy. We have a word in Marathi, ‘yug-purush’, which I loosely translate to mean ‘a one of a kind man in a generation’ (Don’t quote me though. My half-knowledge of Marathi is legendary in the family!). Β For me & mine, Aboda was such a man. He remained to the end, a simple man. A man of few needs. One of my enduring memories, is of him, sitting in his favorite, sagging armchair, eyes closed, soft classical music playing on the stereo, running the fingers of one hand through his dog’s fur (the dog was always found curled up under his master’s chair :)), while those of the other tapped the rhythm of the music on the arm-rest. A man completely at peace with himself and Life. A man who brought much happiness to all whose lives he touched. A dutiful son, a devoted husband, a loving father and uncle, a loyal brother, a friend par excellence and the best possible Grandpa a girl could wish for!

Happy Birthday Aboda πŸ™‚

You Rock!

15 thoughts on “Monday Musings…

  1. Thank you for telling us about your “Aboda” Harsha! He sounds like an amazing man! It makes me miss my two grandfathers…

    I’m so glad you were able to marry the man you love! I think it would be awfully difficult to be with someone who was chosen by someone else (I’ve been on enough “blind dates” to know that they’re usually a bad idea!).

    Happy Birthday to your Grandpa!


    1. Thanks Wendy. He really was a darling πŸ™‚ Grandpas are rather special aren’t they?

      Arranged marriages are still the norm in India, Wendy. Many Indians consider marriage not just a union of two people but a union of families and often the happiness of the individual is sacrificed for collective happiness, and societal pride. My parents had an arranged marriage and they’ve been together for 43 years…and yet…I wonder, even after all this time, whether they would have got together left to themselves! I’ve been reading the Mahabharata (I really recommend Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik if you are into that sort of thing) and am pleasantly surprised to find that women in ancient India had much more sexual freedom and freedom of choice than women today!

      Have a great week ahead πŸ™‚

  2. Appamama also played the harmonium (I picked up some lessons from him) and also the violin! However, the flute was the instrument for him!

    And, if Sunday Stories, and Monday Musings, then Tuesday ?? Do complete the sequence!

      1. Great souls like your Aboda and my Appamama do not have to learn how to play a violin/harmonium/flute. I think they are born with that ability. I believe that any instrument will consider it an honour to be played by him!

        I do not really expect you to do one on each day of the week. I just want you to name the seven days stuff!

  3. How lovely… to actually put down your thoughts. esp. about a person. so what if he is not around to read it!
    I’m really inspired to take up the pen.
    Looking forward to more from you!

  4. What a gorgeous and heart-felt post, Harsha. Your Aboda sounds like an incredible person. I know it’s been years since he has passed, but still I’m sorry for your loss.

  5. Well while reading this I was totally went in trans and I was only seeing my grandpa infront of me! He’s also same as you mentioned about your grandpa!

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you thought of your Grandpa too! They are very special people indeed πŸ™‚ Visited your blog and though my Marathi is kacchi, I loved your Warli background. Will return and read more of the site asap.

  6. One of a kind, truly…and he has passed so many habits onto you, its clear as day πŸ™‚ You look so adorable in that first shot Harsha! We use the term Yug-Purush in Hindi too and not to worry, you are right with translating its meaning πŸ™‚
    My grandmother (Nani) was one of those for me.
    We really have so much in common, its uncanny.

    A lump formed in my throat as I read this, my nani like your Aboda was a nature-loving, music-loving person. She also was a genius in the kitchen, we always licked our fingers after she cooked us something.

    Grandparents are such an essential part of one’s life and I am glad Ishaan has them to learn from. Keep up the writing H, they are something I look forward to with glee every week πŸ˜€

    1. Hugs Aarti πŸ™‚ It has long ago been established how we are kindred spirits πŸ™‚

      It’s wonderful that you have had a similar experience with your Nani. My Nani (I’m lucky – I still have her) is the samw way. You know what? I think having Grandparents aught to be compulsory!! I wish everyone could. They are so precious> I see it now with Ishaan and my Mom…he has the kind of relationship with my Mom that I never had nor ever will πŸ˜‰

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