You knew this was coming didn’t you?
How could you not…after Sunday Stories, Monday Musings was never far away 😉
Oh well, I never said I was particularly original 😛
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‘. My Aboda (my name for him is the result of a childish mis-pronunciation of the word for grandfather in Marathi, ‘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 name ‘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.
My own memories of him are all happy! I was very much the pampered first grandchild in a family that loved daughters 🙂 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 ‘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.
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!). 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 🙂