Monday Musings…

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.

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 🙂 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.

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!).  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 🙂

You Rock!

3 Songs for Freedom

Rather like 3 coins in the fountain! Indians and music go way back…and given our history, it isn’t surprising that we have a host of emotional songs to stir up those good old patriotic feelings, pay tribute to our martyrs and express our love for our country. Why stop at one when you can have a thousand, eh? 🙂 Hey! I’m not complaining! In recent years, a lot of the old songs have been remixed and reincarnated in new avatars, presumably to attract the youth, who necessarily do not identify with India’s freedom struggle, the way old-timers do. Being born in a free country, it is hard for them to identify with the ignominy of British occupation and the horror of Partition.

I was born a good 3 decades after India won her freedom and it’s the same for me. I respect the struggle and am touched by the countless tragedies suffered by those who fought for their country, but much of it remains remote – stories from long ago that I read in school text-books or saw in fuzzy B &W movies! I never bothered with the National Anthem after I left school. However, recently I’ve had occasion to hear it played frequently at International sports events, when a modern hero has done his country proud, and before every movie in cinema halls! I have come to love it afresh – the soulful lyrics & the simple yet powerful melody, bring tears to my eyes every time! (Maybe it’s ‘coz I’m older and am going soft!) I recognize the genius of the Nobel laureate Rabrindanath Tagore who composed it and I doff my hat to him and country, both.

Here is a little gem I found on Youtube, the anthem, recited in Tagore’s own voice!

Here is a more contemporary version, by A. R. Rehman and India’s foremost musical artistes – Soul-stirring!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZi3fwP09zw

This is the original composition of the song Vande Mataram (India’s National Song), in Sanskrit, from the movie Anand Muth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj1Iy4nRMkc

And this is another revival by A. R. Rehman. Superbly done as always!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRPpSgRqtRc&feature=related

This is another song that I love and was quite the rage when first released 🙂 It speaks of national pride and unity in diversity, staples of freedom songs in India! I love that it has music from all corners of India…that’s true integration 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gstRrEmTcBc

And finally, my absolute favorite patriotic song of all time. A tribute to the martyrs of India (and Heaven knows She’s had more than her share!), this song brought tears to Pandit Nehru’s eyes, when he first heard it in 1962, and never fails to do the same to me. Music by C. Ramchandra and lyrics by Kavi Pradeep. Sung fittingly by Lata Mangeshkar, India’s own  ‘Nightingale.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyAhYbwUr2U&feature=related

Alrite, I know, that’s 4 songs, but who’s counting! There are many more songs that I love, but that’s another post, another time!

Meanwhile…’Jo shahid huye hai unki zara yaad karo kurbani‘…

Jai Hind!

Dear Sir, A tribute…

This morning brought sad news. The ex-dean of my alma mater Goa Medical College, Dr. G.J.S Abraham had passed away 😦
He passed away, from complications following bypass surgery in Bangalore. It came as a shock to us, clueless as we were about his illness. Shiva, had visited on New Year’s Day and stayed for a drink and conversation. Conversations with Sir were always stimulating! We were so looking forward to interacting with him regularly, now that we were back in Goa.
He played an important role in Shiva’s life – professor yes, but also mentor, counselor and guide. He always had clear insight and valuable advice to offer his students along with an uncanny knack for recognizing their particular strengths and weaknesses. A dapper figure, always immaculately dressed, with his crisp speech and manner; an impressive personality with his military bearing, his confidence, his knowledge and his flair.
Yes! He had flair! And we respected him, not out of fear (well maybe initially), but because we could not help but, because in him we saw a wonderful example of success, confidence and humility. He and Madame Abraham in her crisp starched cottons and perfect chignon, made quite the couple!
There never was quite another Dean like him – an exemplary teacher, role model and human being! You will be sorely missed Sir, by all those whose lives you touched and transformed. May your family find the stregth to get through these tough times.
Rest in Peace…