There is a man who used to bend down on his knees and sit across the road, waiting for me to come running out of school. Putting aside his routine afternoon nap he waited with eager eyes and a pounding heart, all ready to hear my day’s experiences”
The ink and the pages in the old diary were yellowing as it lay in her book shelf, tucked away amongst her little trinkets for years. Meanwhile the little one had grown up and flown away to the United States to make her own nest, her family. Yet she always had a special corner in her heart for her grandfather, lovingly she called him ABBA. After two decades her mother chanced upon this diary in the midst of a cleaning spree and she couldn’t resist taking a peek at it. Her eyes glistened with tears as she went down the memory lane. Her daughter Divya’s simple words at 12 reflected her innocent love and admiration for her grandfather and the values he stood for in life.
“Born in a pretty orthodox family, he did not have an opportunity for higher education, but he struggled against the odds. At a pretty young age he left his nest in Kerala to fly ahead and reached Bombay where he rose to great heights with his will power and determination alone. His systematic ways, punctuality, and sense of responsibility were the hallmarks of his character. Never in his life was he late for anything... never in a muddle and proudly I can say he is my grandfather.”
The mother brought this precious bit of paper to show the old man, but it was too late as he was on his deathbed. How touched he would have been to know that he was a role model and the object of admiration for the young one.
Abba was born in an eminent Nair tharavad in Edappally in Kerala. He was not one to spend life enjoying the lazy ambience at the tharavad, waiting for his destiny. He believed that fortune favours the brave and that man is the creator of his own destiny. At the tender age of 17, he set out all alone to Calcutta in search of greener pastures. Today when I look back, I appreciate his sheer guts to undertake this journey without money, friends and having no knowledge of Bengali, Hindi or English. This young boy with stars in his eyes chased a dream… a dream in Calcutta, the melting pot of the Indian Renaissance and the freedom movement in the 1940s.
He witnessed the patriotic fervour of the common man, the art and aesthetics of the Bengali culture. When communal riots broke out, he was terrified. A kindhearted Muslim family gave him refuge. Even as he was cowering near the balcony, he saw the head of a Sardarji falling down from above, dripping with blood. All these experiences left lasting imprints on his mind.
From Calcutta to Mumbai was a long journey. His hard work paid off and he climbed the ladders of success. Yet even as he occupied positions of power, he always had a discerning eye for the have-nots. At office he noticed a young man leaving with downcast eyes, on enquiring he learnt that he is in search of any job for survival. Quietly he did the needful. A firm believer in the supreme power, but he was not very religious in the conventional sense, yet his heart was in the right place. He always wanted to give a helping hand to those who were hardworking and fighting against the odds such as the two teenage girls running a small catering service without any help from their drunkard father.
This incident set me thinking. I wonder if such innocent and deep-rooted love and admiration for values and grandparents is possible among the present day Y generation? How many of us would be lucky to receive such admiration from our grandchildren? Could we ever hope for such recognition? Their role models could range from Spiderman, cricketers, to gorgeous beauties. Or do they have any role models? Vyapam in MP, Chikki in Maharashtra, Lalit Gate in Delhi… Tarun Tejpal and R K Pachauri. Do their role models have feet of clay? Honestly, have we left them too many options in the midst of the storm of scams in this gilded age when everything can be bought? firstname.lastname@example.org