“A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart”- Unknown
Blessed are those who get to live with their grandparents and I am one of them. I always cherish the magical moments I spent with my grandpa and grandma.
Babaji, as I call my Grandpa, was no doubt a great man. His thoughts and deeds were truly unmatched. Being the eldest son in the family, Babaji went through many hardships in his life. In spite of dissuasion from his parents, he managed to complete his studies and joined 19th Hyderabad Regiment, later on retired as Captain. He always had a positive attitude and was full of determination. Nothing could wobble his self-confidence and will–power, be it was losing his father at the age of 25 or having a serious injury in one eye, leaving his vision flawed.
Throughout his life, he lived for the amelioration of others. During the army days, he opened schools for the soldiers and managed to initiate saving system for them. After resigning from his service, he started a business, which became unsuccessful owing to deceitful partners. Again, without losing courage, he started working as a typist, to earn bread for his family of eight.
Being rewarded as Honorary Special Police Officer at the time of partition, he was granted village farm land, where he settled. There also, he continued doing endless work for social cause, like building schools, roads, post office, bank, transport service, helping the widows of army personnel get the pensions and a lot more. The list is endless.
Later, when we shifted to nearby town, people from the village used to come every now and then, seeking Babaji’s help. I still remember our house used to have at least one visitor every day. And, not to mention, amid all his social work, he never neglected his family. He even used to play games with us. He had an unmatched sense of humour, which created a magnetic aura around him. Like every grandparent, his pampering was endless. He secretly used to bring comics for me, without letting my mom know!
A religious person, a polyglot, avid writer, composer and an ardent reader, Babaji was simply a model for all of us.
His health gradually started deteriorating after he had first heart attack. His will power still did not budge and he had 3 subsequent heart attacks. However, he could not survive the last one. That day, I was returning happily from school, eager to show my Sanskrit test paper to him, in which I secured 19.5 marks out of 20. I opened the gate of our home and found lots of slippers lying outside. Having no clue what had happened, I stepped inside and found rugs in the rooms and people sitting over them. In one corner was my father whom I asked, “Papa, why are rugs all over here? Has Babaji organised any Path (Sikh prayer)?”
Papa replied, “Babaji gaye”. I couldn’t understand what he meant and asked, “Where?” Papa was teary-eyed and could not say anything. I went inside Babaji’s room and saw his body lying on the floor. Everyone in the room was crying. Being just in Class VI, I was too young to understand what happened, but knew for sure that something had gone terribly bad.
I could see many people, whom we didn’t even know, crying. Each of them was praising the kind old man.
Years later, when I began to learn the complexities of life, I read his autobiography, in which he had written all his life events. I could not believe that even after undergoing so many difficulties in life, he was so optimistic. I felt so terrible of myself, was full of regret that I could never thank him for what he gave to us, to others as well.
Today, I miss his physical presence, but, simultaneously, I feel that he is somewhere very near to me, always blessing me, sharing my happiness and helping me out through the tough times. Though I can never become even a per cent of what he was, his persona is always a great inspiration for me. And yes, now I thank him every day for just everything.