July 6, 2012

My grandfather's cricket themed '100 not out' b'day cake
Not many people can say they have a grandfather who's a 100 years old... and counting. Obvious bragging rights aside, it teaches you a lot. Speaking to him makes you feel just a little bit humbler about your own life. He has stories about all the people he's met, and he can tell you, in great detail, exactly how their conversation went. When we celebrated his 100th birthday a few months ago, I wanted to write about him. I wanted to write about how happy he was to be alive, how curious he still was about everything around him, how completely dedicated to his work (he went to office every day of his life, nearly!)... and I wanted to write about the moment when he turned to me and said, 'Sometimes, I wonder why God chose to have me live this long.'

My grandfather at his b'day party
The move to Toronto came along almost right after that, and in the flurry of getting ready, I forgot all about it. Then, last week, I got an email saying he'd fallen sick all of a sudden. That day, I was one of those people on the subway arbitrarily bursting into tears. Every time I saw someone older by themselves, I thought of him and resented them for being on the subway while he lay in the hospital. I know he's a fighter, you don't live to be 100 without being one, but at that age, you tend to worry about anything that happens, even though he was in perfect health before that. He recovered, of course he would, that's what we're all used to. Soon enough, he was asking my mom and anyone else who was around about everything from the nurses' salaries to my job search in Toronto. I let out the breath I'd barely known I was holding. Life was back to normal. And again, I resolved to blog about him, about the feeling of knowing he was there in the background in my life.

I just heard that he passed away this morning. I saw him a month ago, he told me he'd come visit me in Toronto, but that I shouldn't expect too much of his time because he had friends there too. I look around the house, and I see the painting I'd made before we left, a painting he looked at and decided it should be bigger. I look at my phone, a phone he proclaimed far too big. My grandfather had an opinion on everything, and he made sure we all knew it. 

I've no idea what the joke was,
but it beat Chennai's heat!
He was a man who lived a long, good, full, happy life, with a huge family that adored him and constantly got together to let him know it. We spoiled him and he enjoyed it, content in the knowledge that he had a rapt audience. He was constantly amused by life and laughed his way through it. I'm glad he had family around him in the hospital, it gave him a chance to play the role of storyteller which he enjoyed so much. Now that he's gone, I realize the extent to which I'll miss him, and it surprises even me. 

He was the storyteller fixture when I was growing up, the person with all the questions about my work when I went home once I started working, the person who came home after office with my dad and uncle. I'm not sure what my life looks like with him gone. He's touched so many people's lives, that his absence is hard to even contemplate. He'll be missed.

PS: I'm trying to make this project, Mission Obama happen, in his honour. Please spread the word and let me know if you know anyone who can help. I'm reachable at Thanks.

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