but WTH….I am a procastinator!
Not surprisingly, my thoughts turned towards my grandfather and a peculiar statement (which later turned out to be true) that amma made, when we could not make it to Chennai (from Kolkata) in time for his funeral. I was in 11th then. She said, its good that you did not see his body before the funeral and the funeral, becuse then that would be the lasting image of thatha whenver you would think of him.
This proved true, as I saw my patti (grandmother), on her deathbed, and sudden thoughts of her of her conjure up those last painful moments of her life most of the time.
But the weird story is my final conversation with thatha, which again is the picture that keeps coming into my mind wheneverI think of him.
The events start during January 1999. Amma was getting operated, and my grand-parents had come to Calcutta to help appa and us out. As it turned out, our ( my sister and me) grand-parents were living with us after quite a long time ( discounting our short trips to madras), and this was the first (and unfortunately) that I have vivid memory of their stay with us in Calcutta.
Those two months that I spent with my grand-parents were magical, and even more so, given the circumstances. I had my board exams coming, my mom was sick, my dad was under tremendous pressure. Frankly, I dont remember talking to appa much during that time. My grand parents, had virtually become like parents then. Right from waking us up in the morning, packing tiffin box to school and listening patiently to our school stories.
The bonding with thatha especially was really great. He would sit and recount tales of his school in kerala, of the mischieves he used to make, his days at Hindu, of covering cricket matches in chepauk, of his days in IIT -office, of my father’s childhood etc etc…
Some things that I still remember from that trip are
1. Fight between patti and thatha (!, could never imagine patti getting angry), for the remote. Thatha always would take the TV from 10 to 12 in the morning to watch Lok sabha proceedings. Patti wanted to watch some tamil serial at that time. And, she would never get to watch it. I remember, patti commenting in the afternoon ‘Don’t know, what he watches, firstly he can’t hear properly, and he does not understand hindi’!
2. Appa had asked me to pay the house rent at the bank. And he had asked Thatha to accompany me as I did not know the procedures. The bank was a good 5 Kms away from our home. Thatha insisted on walking. I walked with him to the bank (in the afternoon sun), and was tired. I suggested that we can return by an auto, but he dragged me all the way back by foot. I was exhausted, and he still full of energy, even though, he was touching 80!
3. Previous incidient is indicatve. Thatha loved long walks. And most of the time, he would get something or the other. Mainly it was buiscuits. He would keep it on the table, and pester us to eat it, and would become unhappy, if it were not over by the evening. Also, he would get one new soap for my sister every other day.
By end of March, mom was mom again, shouting and busy, and my grand-parents were leaving for Madras. The taxi was there, and for some reason, appa had decided not to take us to the airport. My sister and me were there to say bye to them. After the customary advice session, Thatha got into the taxi, his eyes moist, and said to me(us), ‘ Do well, I may never see you again’.
None of us took that statement seriously. Infact, I only remembered it, follwoing the unfortunate series of events. And he said it so softly, that probably, I was the only one to hear it.
It so happened that 1999, was the 80th year for my thatha and 50th year for my thahtha-patti’s marriage. A suddent plan was made to celebrate this occasion in October. As luck would have it, our tickets to Madras did not get confirmed. Appa, got hasty flight ticket (and given the charges then, it was impossible for him to afford tickets for all of us), and attended the ceremony.
To make it up to us, he planned a mega-millenium celebrations with all our relatives in Madras, and this time all the tickets were confirmed.
But our plannning and exitement for the trip was suddenly given a shock on 2nd December, when on returning from my tutuion, I saw lots of people sitting in the house, my mother silently sobbing and telling me that Thatha was no more.
His last words still haunt me.
Well, thats the story. Presently, my guides and other prof’s in the department convinced me that I should do a PhD, and now I am in the middle of apping again!! Placements, after a break start again on 24th. Work for it is piling up. Hope that I get a job this time!