I’m sitting on the steps outside my grandfather’s house. He passed away 2 hours ago. As much as I want to be practical and see it as a relief for him, I just can’t. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that 10 days back he was walking, eating, and chilling with us and now he’s gone.
I feel angry. He’s probably the only person I know who wanted to live to be a 100yrs old. Even on his last birthday, he was so positive about reaching that milestone. And I know 88 is a good enough age but it doesn’t feel fair.
It doesn’t feel fair that he had to suffer like this. He worked so hard to improve his health and his life, from being diabetic and obese to reversing diabetes. And yet, in his last few months, he had to deal with cancer, a weak heart, and failing lungs.
My grandfather has been one of my few idols. He grew up in his home village and after the loss of his father moved with his elder brother to Bombay to work. Since money was tight, he worked during the day and attended school at night. He lived with his brother and his wife and never forgot their kindness.
He did his master’s in law and MBA before starting his own business. From nothing, he built his company up to provide a cushy life for his family. His brother passed away far too young, leaving behind his wife and 3 kids. My grandfather took it upon himself to provide for them too. Sometimes providing them with even more than his own family, to make sure they never felt like they don’t have a father. He paid for their education and even their weddings – and never expected anything in return. (I only even know about this because my mum told me in passing)
I can’t remember my life where he wasn’t a part of it. I’ve grown up in his house – playing with my sister in the evening on the balcony waiting for him and dad to come back from work and greeting them cheerfully from the balcony. He’d sneak in chocolates and toffees every day and hide them, so he could give us treats without our mom finding out.
My grandfather always had a special corner in his heart for me because I reminded him of his mother who he absolutely loved but didn’t get enough time with. He always made me feel special even when the world didn’t always make me feel that way. As a chubby kid, when people around me made fun of me – I always found a safe haven with my grandpa. Even when he was unwell and not fully there, many times he would ask specifically for me and it just made me realize that this is one relationship where without even trying that hard, I had something special. From my first salary at my first job (back in 2013), I bought him a watch to replace his old watch (that he had been using for years) and despite it getting loose for him in the last few years (and being gifted other watches by other family members), he still wore that same watch every time he went out. It wasn’t an expensive watch but he appreciated the sentiment behind it.
We haven’t always had the smoothest relationship. When I moved away from home, it disappointed him that I didn’t call very often (which I do wish I had). In my late 20s, he was disappointed that I didn’t get married. He was also a little disappointed that I chose to leave my well-paying job to try my hand at entrepreneurship. It did lead to a lot of friction in our relationship but this didn’t stop him from supporting me still.
Over the last 2 years, I tried to find more topics for us to talk about from football to the financial market to even watching his favourite Indian TV serials with him. I even made him pose for photos for my brand. Last week when he was in the ICU, his favourite football team, Machester United, had a match – I watched a small portion of it on the phone with him (he was too tired to watch the full match). It felt good to share that last real interaction with him.
Did he always do everything right? No. I don’t want it to seem like he was a saint. He did have his weaknesses. He over-indulged in drinking and smoking when my mother was younger which impacted their relationship for a long time. But the day he realized the ill effects his habits were having on my mom and her sister, he quit cold turkey and never looked back. He had a rough relationship with my grandmom. He wasn’t always the best husband to her but I think it was because they were a very incompatible couple. But to me and his other grandchildren – he was the best grandparent we could have asked for. He supported us, loved us, took an interest in our interests and was very content with just us interacting with him on a regular basis. He loved us with all our quirks.
I am glad that I got to be home and spend quality time with him over the last few months. It is my birthday in one week, and I did hope that he’d be around for it. But life had other plans. My brother who is in Canada, unfortunately, did not even get to say his goodbyes and that breaks my heart.
I hope my grandpa rests in peace knowing that he was immensely loved and will be forever missed. I hope he knew what a big impact he had on all our lives. While the world may not know of all the amazing things he did, the many people whose lives he touched will forever hold him close in their hearts.
I love you always, Ajja.
PS: This post has been written over the last few days. If you know me, you know writing here is therapeutic for me which is why I’ve chosen to put this down here.