He was a great man who didn’t merely sustain his battle against life but thrived. He worked his way out of the Indian caste system to become a well-respected and powerful collector*renowned for his honesty, discipline, and intellect. He had a dutiful wife and was gifted with 7 beautiful children. He lived till the ripe age of 99. He was my great grandfather.
My grandmother’s dad had passed away on 10th March 2019 in his daughter’s hand with a simple smile that was his last. She gripped his hand tightly praying that he would go to a better place as she witnessed life slowly ebbing out of him. Every tear she held back was like skipping a heartbeat. I wasn’t there for her then. No one could have been.
I had received the news, when I was in school, only an hour later. My parents picked me up and we rushed to my grandmother’s side. She was a strong woman who held her head high as we came with absolutely no sign of crying, though we knew she was bleeding inside. Having conveyed my grievances all of us left to her brother’s house to pay our final respects, leaving my grandmother in the capable hands of her husband.
He rest there with his eyes closed in a sort of peace that had been hidden by the bodily pain of his previous years. He laid back in what I believed was satisfaction. Satisfied that he had served his people, that he had brought happiness to many, that he had made the world a slightly better place to live in.
When I saw him there, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. I hadn’t known him well but every single time I met him he would put up with me with a smile that I had always thought was too fervent for a disease-ridden old man. The tear I shed wasn’t mine, it was on behalf of every other person who lived a better life because of him. They were tears of pride, not of sorrow, for I knew it was not time to mourn his death but celebrate his life.
I sat in a corner of the room as the rituals took place unable to silence the thoughts streaming into my mind. Thousands of people born and die every single day and there I stood entangled in the never-ending cycle of life and deaths. Who was I but another victim to the unpredictable and uncontrollable ways of the world? Soon the only memories of my grandparents would be mundane photographs and sooner than I’d want it, it might be my parents, or maybe even me. I realized that it was this short duration between birth and death could I live. It is in this time, can I achieve what I want to and what I can? It is in this time, can I find myself or lose myself? I could either wait for opportunities or make them. I can either live life to the fullest and look back with a smile or I could waste life to find myself sitting helplessly with dissatisfaction and regret.
I could either survive or thrive.
I recognized that I didn’t want my story published in paper but engraved in the hearts of those I loved.
What would be India’s condition today if Gandhi had waited for someone else to fight for what’s his? What would have happened to South Africa if leaders like Nelson Mandela had just waited for justice to be served instead of demanding it?
My great grandfather had a story to share.
He came, He gave, He loved, He laughed, He lived.
So can I. So can You