Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Blue Jay

I was standing by a river in Big Sur, listening to the birds chirping in the trees. I had just finished a run, and was catching my breath, when right in front of me, I saw a Blue Jay. And I remembered my grandfather, SRD Guha.
Maybe it was the bicyclists I had seen on my run, which reminded me of him being a champion cyclist.
Maybe it was the run itself, which reminded me of him running by my side while he taught me to cycle.
Maybe it was the Spanish I was learning, which reminded me of him being proficient in 6 languages.
Maybe it was the church I had seen on my run, which reminded me of his appreciation for all religions.
Mostly, I remembered him for all those reasons. I remembered him for the sheer impact he has had on me.
But the trigger was the Blue Jay chirping in the tree, that reminded me of our bird-watching expeditions. Those long walks in Manipal or Dandeli which instilled in me, my love for the great outdoors.
Growing up, to us grandkids, Thatha was a giant. An influential scholar. Champion sportsman. Multi lingual. Fit enough at 70 to teach his grandchildren how to cycle. He had read the Bible, the Kuran and the Gita, and more importantly lived like all religions were worth learning from. He taught us the value of saying thank you. Taught us to appreciate the small kindnesses that give life it’s meaning. Taught us to work hard but not take yourself too seriously. Taught us to care as much about other people's success as your own.
When he passed away a year ago (almost to the day) I was shell-shocked. Sad. Relieved that the end was peaceful. Relieved that my mother, his darling daughter, had been by his side.
But mostly, I was frustrated with myself that my mourning was not doing this great man justice. Eventually, time passed by, and while I struggled to say my goodbye, my frustration faded into the background.
Today, a year on, I finally feel at peace. I can now look back and treasure the time we did get to spend together. While there are so many memories from my childhood, the one from adulthood that I often remember is from the 2 weeks my wife and I spent at my grandparents' house in 2009. I spent many hours learning French from him to prepare me for my time in France. We played our daily game of scrabble. But the most abiding memory is the walks we went on.
They were ambles in a Bangalore strip park, and not the long, brisk hikes from my childhood. We saw sparrows and traffic, not Golden orioles, Magpie robins, Blue jays and trees. But the smiles, the stories, the strength was there. My grandfather, the giant, was back. Those few hours were time I spent with my Thatha. Time I will treasure for the rest of my life.
In some ways, so much of what I do is to try to live up to his example.
I run so that I am fit enough at 70, to teach my grandkids how to cycle.
I try to love life, because like he showed with his remarkable life, there is so much to love.
I try to give my family and friends my all, as that is what he did.
I try to set aside time for things that I love, like writing.
The last few years, I have gotten too consumed with life to write as much as I would like. In some ways, this blogpost is my Thatha’s most recent gift to me. His memory inspired me to do what I love. His memory inspired me to write.


Blogger Hemamalini said...

Nice . Made me think of a grandparent who used to be in my life :)

5:12 AM  
Blogger Vani said...

hi.just saw the blog. i never mourned thatha. i was born on martyr's day and he died on christmas day. when i miss him i sit outside the mortuary in st johns and teach. i said goodbye when he became number 4 in the mortuary. i was alone. everyone else came the next day. it took me a while to get over his death, but i just work that much harder or read harder, or give a needy person some money, look after pati very well - and i know he lives through me. when i put him in the mortuary the postgraduate who came with me had lost her dad when she was 4 years old. he wanted to donate his body but i thought it would be too hard on pati, but we donated his eyes. I thank God for giving me such a great father.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Rockamundo said...

This is nice, but I believe the second through fifth paragraphs would read more easily and clearly if you replace "which" with "that" and remove the commas.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Rockamundo said...

No, wait. The first "which" should be replaced by "who"

2:11 PM  

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