My grandfather passed away on Saturday. He was 86 years old. He had been almost bed-ridden for the past 3 years. He had fractured his hip bone in late 2007 and never completely recovered from it. Though the operation was successful and the fracture healed he never walked on his own after that. Plus because of the general anaesthesia he was never very alert. He would mostly sleep throughout the day and wouldn’t always recognize everyone. And ofcourse he was pretty old. He contracted pneumonia on Thursday and died on Saturday. I’m grateful that the end was easy for him. He had been through a lot of pain in the past 10 years. Multiple operations, a stroke and then the final injury which left him bed-ridden. But atleast the end was peaceful and at home.He looked very peaceful when he died – just as if he were sleeping.
There are so many mixed emotions in me right now. I’ve been wanting to write about this for the past 2-3 days but it’s all too much. I’m sad that he’s no longer there. I keep remembering incidents from my childhood. He taught me how to ride a cycle. He took away my training wheels and ran behind me holding onto the cycle. Only one day I looked behind and he wasn’t there – he was standing where I had started, smiling proudly. He taught me how to tell the time. He taught me so many things. And the stories he told. All real and all had happened to him. Baba ke kisse we used to call them. He was very caring. If anyone was hurt or sick he would personally put ointment or make sure that the person took the medicine. I remember how once I had fallen down and scraped my knee and was terrified of the dettol which would sting. He kept distracting me with something or the other and before I knew it the dettol had been applied and I didn’t feel a thing. I remember the summer holidays when we went to Baba Dadi’s place. He used to take us for a walk every morning in the huge garden while brushing his teeth with tooth powder. I used to love the tooth powder and would always take some for myself too. He used to work in his office in the house but would always welcome us when we went to talk to him. I used to love his different coloured pencils and all the wonderful stationary. He would teach us prayers. Tyamev Mata cha Pita tyamev is one prayer I still remember. There are so many memories. And that is all there is left now.
A part of me is happy for him. He had lived a good life. He worked till his injury 3 years ago. His children and grandchildren are all doing well. He is now free from all the pain and suffering. But the hole he has left behind can never be filled.
One of my bitterest feelings right now is regret. Regret that I didn’t meet him one last time. R has never met him. I last met him in 2007 at Diwali – a few months before he fractured his hip. This was just before my engagement. The plan was that since Baba wasn’t strong enough to attend both engagement and wedding, they would come for my wedding in February. They weren’t able to attend either. I shifted to Bangalore and we all know the story. I kept thinking that we should go and meet him – he’s old and we don’t know how much time he has left. But there was always too much work, we only had enough leave to be able to visit our parents once a year, it was too far, it was too hot, it was too cold. When Mummy told me on Friday that he’s not well I thought that once he’s a bit better we’ll surely go meet him. I was somehow desperate to go and meet him. Too late. He died on Saturday. I wasn’t even able to go for his last rites. My parents and brother went. Anna is too small and she wasn’t well. It would be trouble for already troubled people if I went now. So I did what was practical and stayed. On the outside I’m perfectly normal. But every now and then I get the feeling that something is wrong. I finally understand why the last rites are so important. It’s a chance to grieve, to get support, to reminisce and celebrate the much loved one who is no longer there. I didn’t go when I should have. So in a way it’s fitting that I can’t go now to support and get support from my family.
R can’t understand. He never even met him. Plus it’s not as if he has seen me be very close to my grandfather. I’ve never even talked to him on the phone in the past few years because he was not in a condition to talk on the phone. I think I’m grieving the most for the grandfather from my childhood.
I hope you’re in a better place now Baba. We will always love you and miss you.