The last I saw him, my last day of vacation at Kerala 2013, while saying our routine goodbyes, he hugged and gave me a peck on the cheek. Two minutes later, at the foot of the gate, he waved me a happy goodbye, chuckled and blew a flying kiss. This is an emotion most people who know him, won’t be able to relate to. Towards the end of his ninety years the strict Ex-Royal Navy persona changed into a happy proud childlike grandfather.
He was regimented, and had incredible respect for time. He was an avid reader, traveller, spiritual more than religious and a knowledge enthusiast. He was up-to-date in terms of general knowledge, technology [though he wasn’t well acquainted with how to use them, he knew what existed] and respected education and culture more than anything else. He wore kadhar, all white, starched and ironed. He always had a French beard, well kept, and white too. Even at 91, he made sure that he presented himself well at all times. To top it all, he owned an interesting range of hats, the cow-boy kinds which matched well with his fluent English lingo. He dressed better than 95% of the relatives I know even today. And his style stood out. THIS is a person who was born in the 1920’s.
Just about recently, he had started calling me “professor” always accompanied with a chuckle. Even though I kept telling him, to be a professor it would atleast require a Phd, he used to conveniently ignore that part. He enjoyed the thought of his grand-daughter coaching. More than being an architect, he was proud of the fact that I took up teaching. Today any profession is a money making channel and most of them have lost their sanctity but his ideologies were distinctive. He believed that teaching could change lives. It is knowledge up gradation at all times and it works as a wisdom spreading device which not everyone takes up willingly. Its a powerful profession to influence people.
I knew all this, I just wasn’t sure how much of it I could deliver. And honestly, he dint know either but he believed. And that, sometimes works wonders. It inspires you to be better – as a human and as a professional. I haven’t met enough people who has that intensity of faith and trust in believing that I can achieve all that I want to and at times, that reassurance is just what is required.
Yes, he was aged, but I miss him very much. That spot on the living room sofa in front of the t.v, the very typical grandfather smell of ointments and oils, the soulful “god bless you” and the happy voice on the phone – I miss it all. Today, he departed. He has finally been sent to a better place. And I gladly accept the harshness of life. Everybody needs that driving force to succeed and I feel I have found mine. What I extract from the time I have spent with him is there’s always a choice that can make things better, there’s always a trust that one should experience and no matter what, the style that identifies you and how you carry it is not defined by age.
Today, some traits, that are very distinctive of me, have found their roots. May his soul rest in peace.
Ps: A few months back he wrote in his diary, how he wants his rituals to take place. It said:
Cut the Mango Tree from the backyard for the wood. You might not need the whole tree, so cut[a particular] that branch. Call [name specified] so n so poojari to conduct the rituals and do not publish anything in the newspapers.
Also specified were some of the names who should be informed and called. There were other thigns too. But the point it, he really, truly knew what he wanted, and how things should end for him.