My Maternal Grandfather passed away on May 10 2014. He was 92 years of age. Today marked the 17th day of his passing away, and also the day when we finally immersed his mortal remains in the Holy water.
When a person is no more with us, then only we start to analyze about his life, his action and their consequences. Believe me, we never had those heart-rendering, sugar-coated, mushy-mushy scenes which you see in movies between grandfather and grandson. Ours I believe was more or less likely the TOM AND JERRY show with myself being Jerry of course.
One of the most vividly remembered episode happened when I was in Std. III or IV. I used to strategically put my comic books inside my science text during my studying hours and happily bide my time. My mother would be happy to see me studying a subject which I usually detested, at least he is trying, she used to think. Science book being bigger than most other books aided in shielding the comic book was my reason for selecting it. However, he blew my cover. Not only did he blow it, my grandfather I am talking about, he did so in front of my mother as she had refused to believe that her son was reading comics instead of studying. I felt a tinge of remorse when I saw her face, but simultaneously I was planning revenge upon him (nothing more than jumping up and down on his bed in his absence). More about these sometime later, as this post is about my Grandfather and not about me and my Calvin & Hobsian adventures.
My grandfather was born in Kannur (then Cannnanore) in the year 1921 on August 15. He was 3rd of the four siblings. I don’t know much about his growing up years, except that he started working after his SSLC. It was while working in Mumbai (then Bombay) that he met my grandmother and even though Chetan Bhagat and his 2 states were light years away, he and my grandmother did what Krish and Ananya did in two states, (Got married what else). Okay, I went overboard a little, its not as culturally different as a marriage between a Punjabi and a Tamilian, but believe me, we Malayalees are divided by our eccentricities and these change every 1000 m, but we do stand united by our love for booze and money. And I am telling you, that I have never been a big fan of my grandfather, still am confident that he would have beaten Arjun Kapoor’s Krish hands down, no doubt about it with his cool quotient and glamour.
By the time he got an opportunity to work in Singapore, he was already a father of 2 handsome boys, who were staying at my grandmother’s ancestral house in South Kerala (where we currently stay). It was while working in Singapore, that my mother was born. Unfortunately, my grandmother died while my mother was a small kid, (perhaps class 2 or 3). Grandfather packed his bags and together with my mother sailed to India. I believe, he had made up a small fortune by then (I can safely assume that, going by his frugal ways).
He clumped my mother with her two brothers in south Kerala and re-married (this time from North Kerala). He also invested here, there and everywhere. He bought trucks, started restaurants (years later while passing through central Kannur in a heavily crowded public bus, I remember him telling me with a sigh, “Your grandfather once owned a restaurant here, KG Yesudas came for inauguration.”
His luck deserted him in a big way, whatever business he touched turned dud, even his trucks met with accident and he had to sell them for a loss. The two families that were dependent on his earnings from both sides of Kerala were not exactly happy with his frugal and scroogey ways. That he was losing money perhaps made him a bit more grumpy than he usually was. One more thing that alienated him from his family was that perhaps he was a bit more of old school, you know the type of people who never show love or say kind words in front of you, always criticizing and maintaining a stoic face. That my mother was deeply attached to him can be because of that girly thing that these gals have for their fathers.
As I said before, my relationship with him was never hunky-dory, but after I started earning, there was change in his demeanor towards me. Perhaps he felt the rascal won’t be bugging him for money and was relieved because of that.
He was to the end, an active man, except for the last 2 weeks of his life, where his body became very weak and he needed support from my mom and sis for performing basic tasks. His mind was still razor sharp and active. He knew that Man Mohan Singh was the PM, Pranab Da was President and Ommen Chandy was Kerala CM. A life time Sakhav (Comrade), he would beam with pride every time he saw pictures of Sreemathy Teacher in Newsprint. She is our relative he would keep on reminding us.
His end however was quite peaceful. On that day, in the morning, he was feeling unwell. Mom made him drink some tea, and was making arrangement for ambulance when he passed away. My sister was with him and he faintly replied to her calls. They say, we suffer because of our bad karmas and enjoy due to our good karmas, that we experience heaven and hell both here. If that is so, then I believe, he were not so unlucky as I always thought. At least he had somebody by his side to look after, to cry for, not to mention the special well wishers and relatives who stood up and supported us in various ways.
So, finally what Khuswant singh wrote for his epitaph, I believe Appupa holds true for you too (at least partially).
"Here lies one who spared neither man nor God/Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod/Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun/Thank the Lord he is dead, this son of a gun."
So, Dear Appupa,
Wish you awesome luck next time, sorry for my little inadequacies and all the fights that we had along the way, perhaps we can settle it over a drink or whatever they have up there once we meet, till then adios
Love n regards
Your loving grandson