It all goes so far back that I don't know where to begin. There are long flashes, of course, of happy memories, of incidents. But I guess that's how you know someone's left their impact on you well and truly- you get this feeling when you think about them. It's a constant, fuzzy feeling, one that transcends events and memories. You feel like if they're around, you can handle anything, battle anything.
And that's how I felt about thatha.
Thatha was my grandfather, although it'd be impossible to condense everything he was in just that one word. He taught me things and he learnt things from me. At times he'd tell me what was good for me, and at times, he'd have to hear it. Happiest when I was happy, most upset when I was. My best friend, my mentor, my coach, my human diary, all rolled into one. He understood me and my strengths, and refused to let me think that I had weaknesses.
He played multiple roles with ease- dad, buddy, teacher. I had to remind myself of the fact that he was so much older than I was, because it really didn't seem so. You see, my thatha was way cool. He was very active, and so he'd go for a walk twice in the day- mornings and evenings. He'd put on these amazing sunglasses, a cap, and sparkling sneakers and practically sprint. We'd have these races when I was small, and you know what? He won, most of the time. And believe me, i tried. He was fast. That's what was so amazing about him- he wouldn't try and go slowly just so I'd win. He wouldn't turn any odds in my favour- simply because he didn't think that I needed that. He believed that I already had what it takes, and I didn't need handicap points- and that only made winning those races truly worth it- because I knew that I'd truly won.
It's easier to buy you your first watch than to teach you to tell the time, and thatha did both. It's easier to buy you your first bike than to teach you to ride it, and thatha did both. It's easier to give you money than to teach you how to handle it, and thatha did both. I really don't know how, but he managed to find time to be actively involved in the lives of people around him. He was a an amazing orator- Barack Obama, you have company. Storytelling was his forte. He'd truly seen life, through years of unbelievable hardship, and he had amazing anecdotes every single time- all filled with so many unbelievable events that I'd keep telling him that he had enough experiences for a book. I guess I got my love for writing from him- he wrote diaries like I did, fiercely guarded them like I did, believed in simple writing- just like I do.
Incredibly open-minded for his generation, thatha was the quintessential post-independence indian- both british and indian in his ways. Unbelievably comfortable in english, tea-drinking, and cricket loving. I could write a whole post on his love for cricket. If india won, he'd bring the house down in joy. Sachin tendulkar could not have had a bigger fan.
He had an amazing outlook towards education, being self educated and well read. It was lifelong and of primary importance, he'd say. He was scholarly, and knew more about indian scripture than most people- and he'd never try to persuade us to follow it like he did. No questions asked, and I was always given the benefit of the doubt. "Am I right?", he'd ask, after practically every thing he'd say to me. No one else has ever taught me things that way- and I've learnt best from him. I can't remember a single instance where he even firmly spoke to me, let alone shouted or scolded. He taught me by sheer example. It was his je ne sais quoi. I learnt what mutual love and respect means, because of him. I wasn't just his granddaughter for him to mould and grow with- I was his confidante, his buddy. Thanks to him, I know what it's like to be the apple of someone's eye. We were each other's biggest fan.
To the man who defended me always, to the man who taught me how to fail, how to cry, how to walk, how to smile. To the man who taught me about faith. To the man who's taught me to believe in myself. To the man who believed in me more than I believe in myself. To the man who taught me almost everything I know, and made me what I am, today. To the man who has celebrated my happiness like no one else ever has. To the man who practically picked me up when I'd fallen down in life, not knowing how to get up. To the man who taught me how to pick myself up when he wasn't there. To alpenliebe's biggest fan. To the first person I'd tell good news to. Good news just isn't the same without him.
To one of the finest father figures ever. To the man who has seen all my light, and still loved my dark.
To the man who taught me to never run away from expressing myself, I sure hope heaven has amazing internet, thatha, because this, is for you.
Sunday, November 15, 2009