My earliest memories with my grandfather was of doing Maths with him. He taught me tables, calculations etc. What was remarkable? He never raised his voice or hand on me while teaching. Though he belonged to the old school of teaching but he never believed in spare the rod and spoil the child type of things. Whenever I was unable to understand any problem, he tried to teach me adopting different methods or giving real life examples. Sometimes when he had to go somewhere, he remembered the sums from our Maths book and when he came back, he usually called me and told me how to do further sums. While traveling , he used to do all the calculations of my Maths chapter in his head. I still long for such a fantastic memory and brain!!!
I know my grandfather’s main subject was Sanskrit. He spoke this ancient and beautiful language fluently but he was comfortable with all the subjects. He taught me till tenth class. And his teaching method was excellent. You never feel afraid of asking questions., when he was teaching.
My grandfather had a hard childhood and adult life. He educated himself in the absence of his father. Only God knows how he was able to do that. Later on, most of his adult life; he shuffled between job and court appearances. His army of relatives had gifted him court cases. My grandfather was facing not one, two, three, ten , twenty but 67 court cases!! A lecturer of Sanskrit couldn’t afford Lawyers. He presented and argued his own cases in the court and won 64 out of 67 cases registered against him. When he used to narrate these incidences, his heart was not filled up with hatred for his relatives. He just told me these things as facts of life. I know he had nerves of steel but he didn’t transfer that quality to me.
In the morning, we often used to fight over newspaper. Who will read it first. Of course, first my Baba used to read, then my father then…. Sometimes when Baba was reading newspaper I used to squat and scanned last page, the sports page. Whenever he spotted me doing that, he often gave the whole newspaper to me to read. My joy knew no bounds at such a grand favor.
Another thing I remember about my Babba is, he always encouraged me to ask questions and never admonished me if I went overboard sometimes. He inculcated in me the culture of debate and discussions and how to look at thing logically.
I often see old people struggling with boredom and isolation. But I have never seen my grandfather getting bored. He had something to read or he listened to the radio. We had vast space at our home. Due to my grandfather, we had most of the fruits and vegetables grown at our place. I remember mango, litchi, guava, peach, custard apple, jack-fruit, gooseberry, papaya, lemon, mulberry and amla trees in our compound. When everyone was taking a nap at afternoon, I used to sneak out and tried to climb each and every tree. If it was laden with fruits, then… Due to my grandfather’s efforts, I had the opportunity of having freshest salads in this word. Just before lunch, we used to dig out radish and carrots and plucked tomatoes. During winter season, my grandfather grew potatoes, peanuts and green peas. Sometimes, when we were with friends, we dug out potatoes and made Tikkis. I can guarantee, nothing can beat the taste of those Tikkis. Until, I came to a metro city, I never realized how lucky I was growing up with all the comforts of a city but environment of a village!!! I wish my kid can experience the same joy and harmony with nature.
I remember, when my grandfather died at the age of 87, I was devastated, totally shattered. I was unable to deal with the reality that it was OK. I refused to see his dead body. I never said Goodbye to him. NEVER. But he never visited me in my dreams. That is very comforting for me. It means he went away as a satisfied soul having no unfulfilled desires at that time. Right now, wherever he is, he is quite peaceful and happy.
He was the only person in the world, who loved me unconditionally. NO matter what I did or thought, he was OK with it. Grandfather is the only person in the world who claimed, “Whenever I see your face, my lifespan increases!!!” When I remember these words, I feel like the most beautiful person surviving on this earth.