Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Remembering appa...

August 8 1992 will be etched in my memory forever. It was the day I lost my guiding light, my idol and mentor- my grandfather. Ever since my mother gave birth to me, on that fateful day in 1978 it has been my grandparents and aunts who have brought me up. I was left with my grandparents because of a complication I developed to the BCG vaccine. I had a big boil in my left armpit and my parents could not take me with them to Calcutta. My mother left me with her parents hoping to come back and take me with her in a year. For nearly a year I was rendered immobile by the boil in my armpit, nobody could lift me or carry me around; my grandmother tells me that I used to cry all the time because of the pain. My boil finally broke and hell broke loose. I was a very naughty child, breaking and smashing everything that was in my way. My grandparents and aunts got very attached to this incredibly naughty child.

When my mother came back after a year to take me back, my grandfather told her that he would bring me up as his 11th child (my grand mom bore 7 daughters and 3 sons). After a lot of deliberation my mother finally gave in to his requests and left me behind in Salem. I called my grandfather appa and my grandmother amma. They were my parents. To this day I have never felt like calling my biological parents as amma and appa.

My grandfather was a very charming, sweet and an incredibly wise man. He recognized the evils of caste system and treated everyone equally. I observed him with great interest in my formative years. Everyone seemed to respect him so much. My grand mom used to tell me stories of how my grandfather would occasionally eat meat on social occasions with his Muslim friends. He spoilt me with the best chocolates in town. He never forgot to get me chocolates when he came back from work.

My grandfather was a mining engineer. The entire household would be up and awake at 4 AM! He used to leave for work at 5, my grand mom would wake up at 3 AM every day to make him a delicious breakfast and pack his lunch before he left. My grandfather was my alarm clock; he would kick me out of bed, before school. By the time I reached my 3rd grade he had retired from his work and his full time job was to get me ready to school. My school started very early and he would keep yelling my name at 5:15, I would keep tossing and turning in my bed acting like I never heard him. He would finally lose patience at 5:30 and give me a big kick! I swear he would kick me out of bed literally. After kicking me out of bed he would go straight to the kitchen to help my grand mom, cutting all the vegetables for her while she bickered about “issues” or complain about some mischief I did the previous day. I would go to the kitchen after brushing my teeth still half asleep and lie down on his lap immediately. He would cool my steaming cup of “maltova” down while I slept a little bit extra on his cozy lap.

I will never forget the advice my grandfather gave me when my father took me to Coimbatore for the sacred thread ceremony. I detested the idea of wearing a sacred thread and was fighting with my father, telling him that I would never attend the ceremony. My grandfather took me aside and told me that I could remove it as soon as I came back home ( I never went back to my parents, they used to visit me once in a while and suddenly tell me that I had to come with them for such ceremonies, I always disliked my father because of such things).

I also cannot forget Thursdays, for it was saibaba day and my grandmother used to make delicious sweets as prasadam. On one such Thursday my grandfather gave me a beautiful surprise. I was in my 7th grade then and was involved in a number of cycling expeditions in and around Salem. I was using my uncle’s old bike then, it was nearing its death and cycling was becoming a pain. It was a Thursday morning and I was leaving to school on my rotten bike, my grandfather stopped me and asked me to show him my bike. He took all the time in the world to have a close look at it and then suddenly realizing that time was ticking by, sent me packing to school. I came back home after school tired and excited to find out what my grand mom had made as prasadam. My grandfather was waiting for me at the gate, he told me that my grand mom had made delicious gulab jamoon and that I had to wait outside till she finished making it. I was surprised at this because I was never stopped outside the house for something like a gulab jamoon, I pushed my grandfather aside and ran into the house straight to the pooja room, there in front of me stood a brand new all terrain bike. I was yelping with joy, hugging and kissing my poor grandfather, nearly strangling him.

I want to end here before I break down remembering the last few years he was with me. Those memories will never fade. I was in my 10th grade when he left me forever.
Appa, I don't know where you went, or where you are, but I will always have you in my heart...
I love you pa...


Anonymous said...

Touching Post Robbie...after much controversies..:)


Swahilya said...

Nobody goes anywhere. Only you cant see them with your physical eyes. Your Pa is very much with you. Just there when you think of him.

vee-jay said...

hi robbie, as swahilya said, your Appa is still there watching you over (or probably just next to you). Loved ones never go away. They just disappear from your life but are still part of your life, every day, every single moment.

Ganesh said...

can relate to this very much, as I also spent most of time with my grandparents(amma side).

What Swahilya says is right.

kaleidoscope said...

So sweet of you. Grand parents are lot of fun, but i got to meet them only during vacations.

Arvind said...

pasumarathANi :-)

cosmicblob said...

Down memory lanes...it's wonderful to cherish those memories, that keep us going through the years ahead...

Sowmya said...

Hi robbie,
AS VJ and Swahilya said, our grand parents don't leave us after they die. Their thoughts, memories and blessings are always with us. For me my grandmother is always with me. I still tell her what ever happens to me and take her blessings when ever I have something important coming up.
Be happy that they are always around us and watching over us.


Nyneishia.. said...

Hey Robbie.. :)
Entered the site after a long gap. And felt incredible reading the post. I was remembering my grandpa. His anniversary is on this 12th, friday.
Though i didnt spend every childhood day with him, he has been a great influence. And surprisingly I have come to realize it much more now than ever before. Things I do, believe, say and just about everything has him written all over. I used to argue with him about things I didnt like, never felt wrong about letting him know what i felt and thought. He was a very practical and a truly religious (absolutely non-ceremonious)person. A beautiful blend. I still can hear that early morning chanting of Geetha or vishnu Sahasranamam. And through my sleepy eyes, i could see him sitting in that red n green stripped easy-chair. :)
Love you thatha. !!

Robbie, we are blessed to have been touched by such real heros. :)

ROBBIE said...

Kavya: That wasnt meant to be a controversy:)

Swahilya: Yes I feel him when I remember him, but I miss feeling him, hugging him and smelling him. I miss him in bone and flesh, he is there in my thoughts though.

thanks for the kind thoughts, he is very much there with me, all memories were revivied when I remembered the horrible day of his death.

Isn't living with grandparents fun? They totally spoil you but also leave you with a lot to think about, I have learnt a lot from my grand parents, the softness in their words, the elegance, I can keep going on, glad I revived a few of your memories.

Kali ma!
Most people dont get the good fortune of living with their grandparents, you must have sure felt loved everytime you visited them.

Did not understand what that meant.

Yes these are the memories I cherish the most, I feel like I can replay every minute of it in my mind.

How are you? Glad you dropped by and thanks for the wonderful thoughts.

Hi! glad you decided to drop by after such a long time, what happened to your blog site? I wish you start blogging again and revive it. I miss your raves and rants, and particularly the book reviews :). yes I am incredibly lucky to have spent time with people like my grand father. I am glad that I revived memories of your past. Afterall, like cosmic said, memories are the ones that keep us going...

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Very nice post. I couldn't control the tears...very touching.!

I am sure he is looking after you from there..in heaven!

ROBBIE said...

Please do not cry, lets smile and be happy. I understand the grief, we all must have had such people in our lives. Its a sad reality that everyone has to die one day.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

True, but I am a little too sensitive to touching incidents in life.

Everyone born here has to die one day. I agree with that statement.

ROBBIE said...

I wish I could give you a big hug now! I posted the picture above for you!

Arvind said...


pasumarthANi literally means, the sculpt marks left on a young tree, stays-put despite it growing old and the scultped lines remain young.

(pasum = young/fresh, maram = tree, ANi = nail that is used to sculpt on a tree)

It is used figuratively to convey how some memories that are close to heart continue to be so young !

ROBBIE said...

ellam thamiza englishla ezhudhinadhaala vandha vinai, thats all! :P

Reality said...

a very moving article...remember 'life ends but love doesn't.

Shuba said...

bayangara touchingaa irunthuchu