A very charismatic and learned man – always dressed in impeccable white – just like his character! His aura was such that anyone who saw him stood up in respect automatically. The man I am talking about – Ramaswamy – My adorable, admirable grandfather.
I can talk about the various roles he played from society’s perspective – like he retired as a Deputy Collector and was the most learned man in his entire district, etc. However, I’d rather talk about the man that he was above and beyond all the roles he played and the unforgettable impact he had in my life.I wonder if my life would have been as rich as it is without his invaluable presence!
He used to come visit us 5 times a year for sure (if not more) – those were my sister’s birthday, mother’s birthday, father’s birthday, my birthday and my parents’ wedding anniversary. He never missed coming. And every time he came, he’d give these crisp currency notes as a gift – we’d look forward to that – not because it is money but more because we never get to see such new notes without a single fold. I used to save my money inside a book and keep it away for a rainy day (something that I don’t do very well now 🙂 ). Even after he retired, he continued giving us money – I never found any difference in him post retirement – he still used to shave, dress up in those freshly pressed, crisp white clothes, hair neatly combed, the same zest for life, the same schedule, the same helping nature, moderate on food – nothing changed. I never knew retirement meant something because he made it feel like a man is just as useful and wonderful and fantastic regardless of whether he is in service or retires – it depends on how he continues to lead his life – with dignity and respect. He continued to be the head of the family – guiding people on important decisions like marriage, kids, education and work life.
I, for one, was the luckiest of them all – every time he came home, his evenings were exclusively meant for great conversations with me as a 7 year old. I used to ask him for stories from his younger days – pre-independence era – how was life back then – and boy o boy! What great stories I heard. I grew up listening to his stories – and I was so inspired that I told him I’d write his autobiography! My grandfather laughed and corrected me explaining – it would be a biography since I’d be writing it. It would be an autobiography only if the person himself/herself wrote it 🙂 . He was brilliant in English Literature too. Shakespeare and Milton used to come alive – I learnt Shakespearean lines much before kids of my age could. He quoted verbatim from Macbeth, Hamlet, Paradise Lost etc. He helped my mother with studies when she was preparing for her Masters in English Literature with 2 little brats in the house.
Though I was quite an introvert as a kid – there were 2 people, who I recall having great conversations with – one was my mother’s father who I have just described, and the other was my father!
A lot of values, respect for language, respect for people, helping people in need are things that I have learnt watching my grandfather.
Wait! Before I end – I just have to talk about a recent fantastic interaction with another elderly gentleman Mr. Chidambaram who came for my training program with his grandson. He came to me and said, “My grandson, who is in 10th grade wanted to attend this training and we stay very far – so I came along with him.” I thought, how sweet of him to take all the trouble, start early in the morning, change two city buses and reach the venue even before I did! What a commitment! What amazed me even more was – although he came to accompany his grandson, he participated in the training program with the same amount of curiosity and enthusiasm as a child would – like a clean slate. It was a humbling experience for me to say the least, to watch him learn and contribute in such brilliant ways. I salute the spirit! It’s inspiring to see such models of excellence. Following their footsteps, I am looking forward to growing up graciously and aging wisely. What else could I have, but respect for yester year’s youngsters and today’s shining stars!
We are who we are because of the inspiring generations before us, who live for us. It is now our turn to take care of them just as much as they take care of us with their unconditional and undying love.