I lost my paternal grandfather a year ago. It was a difficult time. Even though we did not stay with my grandparents, I was particularly fond of him. We spent extended summer holidays with my grandparents at their home in Dahanu, during which I got to understand him closely and love him even more. There are so many memories that I have of him. The way he used to call me ‘Madam’, his nickname for me. His love for wrist watches and how he used to observe everyone’s hands to see what watch they wearing. That old, white ambassador car with curtains on the windows that used to drive him to and fro.
I could go on and on. I am writing this post to share with you’ll what a wonderful man he was. I learnt a lot from him – big things and small. But here are three pointers that he taught me, which I’m keeping with me for life. And so should you.
1. The Importance of Discipline
My grandfather loved his routine. When I lived with him during my summer holidays, I began to learn his time table by heart. He woke up at his fixed time, had his meals at a fixed time, went to his shop and got back at his fixed time. His time table was always adhered to, and very rarely could anything or anyone alter his routine.
I began to realize the importance of discipline and staying true to time very early in life. He taught me to single handedly focus on a given task at hand, with unwavering attention, letting nothing else distract you. Because he was just like that. Nothing could distract him from his morning paper reading session or his evening exercise schedule. Time was time for him. He adhered to it very strictly. And somewhere so do I. I owe my punctuality, fixation to rules, and love for time tables to him.
2. The Value of Education
My grandfather dropped out of school to run a family business at a very young age. But he understood the importance of education. Every time he would speak to me on the phone, his first question was inquiring how my studies were going, or whether I was attending my college lectures properly. When I started working at a reputed hospital later on in life, he was extremely proud of me. I got a feeling I was achieving milestones in life which he somewhere was unable to.
He always continued to motivate me to study further and aim higher. I remember telling him at the age of 25 that I wanted to pursue my doctorate. (One of my many whims. I never got around to actually pursuing it.) While most others told me I was of a marriageable age, and needed to focus my time on finding someone and settling down, he was the only one who gave me a thumbs up, and told me to go for it no matter how many years it would take. I remember his words of wisdom from time to time. In his Parsi Gujarati dialect he would say,’Money is here today, gone tomorrow. Good looks will stay with you while you are young, and disappear later. What is in your head, what you learn, no one can take away from you.’ I’ll keep his saying with me for life, and even pass it on to my children someday, in hope that they too realize what the power of education is.
3. The Joy in Eating
My ‘bomas’ loved his food. Part of it was because he was married to a wonderful cook. So many memories from my Dahanu trips were rooted around food, and my granny’s cooking. I remember the extravagant meals we would share, and how my grandfather would relish them. I remember wanting to eat ‘Feast’ ice cream, it having just launched in the market. The next day, a crate of Feast arrived home and I spent the entire summer eating Feast. Having said that, I never ate Feast ever again thanks to the overdose I had that summer.
He was extravagant and liberal when it came to feeding people. Crates and crates of alphonso mangoes, dozens of tender coconuts just picked from the trees in our front yard, and baskets of chikoos were a common summer sight, and we relished them together. He had a peculiar way of eating his food. He would mix his rice, dal, vegetables, meat, and achaar all together for the first five minutes of his meal, and then go on to eating it. I would always pick at his style, and he’d reply ‘Pet ma jai ne baddhu mix thavanu che’, which translates to ‘it’s all going to go get mixed in the stomach in any case’. Now I’ve started to mix my dal rice and veggies together too, and every time I do that I think fondly of him.
My grandfather was a self made man and always taught his children and grandchildren the value of money. Inspite of us having cushioned comfortable lives, we were always taught to spend wisely and intelligently. I remember sitting across my grandfather at the dinner table every night, while he did his ‘hisaab’ or daily accounts where each rupee was to be accounted for. I was taught to do small chores around the house, in exchange for which I would receive a shiny bright coin to spend. He also loved travelling in his youth, and fondly spoke of his trips to Disneyland and Germany.
8th June 2014 is when I lost my grandfather. 15th June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It’s saddening to know that 50% of the elderly in our country face exploitation and abuse in some form in our country. (Source: Helpage India) Let us learn to respect, and value the elderly. Let us learn from their experience, walk on the path they show us, because there is no teacher like time. This post is to thank my late grandfather for teaching me so many important life lessons. And for my grandparents, who I continue to learn from every day of my life.