A few days back, I lost my grand-dad who in many ways, consciously and subconsciously inspired multiple aspects of my journey till now. My time spent through the years with my maternal grand-dad was ‘always high’ on playful happiness. When I am around him, the erstwhile child and teenager in me always kept making timeless comebacks.
My relationship with my grand-dad was anything but traditional. I loved pulling his legs, talking about the silliest and weirdest of things that would definitely not fall under an acceptable grand father-grand son genre of conversation. Many of those conversations were those best buddy conversations you would perhaps have during a vacation or during a time when you are notoriously bunking a class. In his last conversation with me, he was at his hilarious best describing a cricketing talent he claimed to have spotted! His riotously funny description of the Afghanistan cricket team opener and his spirited explanation on why that gentleman was going to be the next big thing in cricket are going to be permanently etched in my memories. I still find it difficult to believe that such banters are never going to return.
Here are my top 5 fan boy picks on why he was so special to me:
The man who transcended generations
It is remarkable, how connected he was to the younger generation. Infact any generation. There was something truly ubiquitous in the way he transcended to resonate with different personas and generations. A trait that broke not just generation gaps but a trait that should be a lesson to anyone in any walk of life.
The family first achiever
As someone who was truly self made, raising and seeing 6 kids (5 daughters and a son) grow into remarkable role models themselves is a feat of its own. Given that perhaps all his life’s decisions were for their well being, just weighing that in context to his professional path makes me look at him in awe.
The best selling author who never published
Given his range of vocabulary and that natural skill for creatively narrating even mundane things so expressively, it would have been lovely to read his world views in form of books or episodes. Leaving grandfatherly equations aside, he was also easily one of those rare speakers that I would travel a long distance and pay a premium to listen to.
No compromises on Dignity and Integrity
Almost everyone has a unique tale of ‘generosity’ and ‘gratitude’ when it came to knowing him as a person. I used to often hear ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ kind of stories and tales of integrity about him from people in daily walks of life. From the neighbourhood medical shop owner to the bank manger in his local bank to the kabadiwala who used to come and collect papers. Not to forget all the grand kids of diverse age groups whom he bailed out of some prickly issue or the other.
Just a few years back, my grandparents tragically lost one of their remarkably supportive daughters due to cancer. The way he carried himself subsequently to be a symbol of strength to my grand mom and his siblings was legendary.
Dignity and integrity would be common words in everyone’s pitch to describe him.
Live your personality
During my different phases as a (hardly) maturing adult, I saw him through a variety of lenses. I got to appreciate how non-traditional he truly was. He was an outlier of his generation. Someone who was not weighed down by his responsibilities. I think he was someone who refused to be bogged down irrespective of what life there at him. If life threw lemons, he started thriving on lemonade!
He was someone who could adjust and find thrill and purpose in every phase of his life. Whether it was the carefree life as a budding sports talent or his colorful life during his growing up days or those chauffeur driven years as a large factory personnel leader or that super hero father who inspired generations or that super-resilient person who made sure that diabetes can kiss good bye in its efforts to slow him down.
On a lighter note, it takes a very brave person to play a master chef jury when you are absolutely clueless about cooking;) Here was a man who had a fine taste with strong likes and dislikes about the food being dished out to him:) I loved the conversations between him and Athai (I call my grandmom as athai for reasons unknown) especially when he used to try being a jury to the spread of dishes she used to cook for him
Love your life to the fullest
He was someone who managed and won over diabetes with an unbreakable discipline to lead the life style he had chalked out for himself. His equation with his equally illustrious wife is a fairy tale inseparable story on how people should grow old together. Someone who was playing sports and actively exercising well into his 80s is a compelling tale of his zest for life’s energies. He was someone who loved life to the fullest. His impeccable dressing sense was a constant reminder that he was there to live life in his own terms and that he was going to make the most of it.
A Great Leader who should have been a newsmaker
Earlier last year, I was discussing something about people management with him. The erstwhile people leader from Neyveli Lignite Corporation rolled back decades to give a sneak peek into the kind of leader and personality he would have been in his hey days.
I gave him an honorary business card while promising that I will spend more time with him. I am glad I was able to spend some time with him this year and roll back the playful years of carefree joy.
The way he used to vividly recollect incidents and people from 90 decades of his life can only mean that he was truly a people’s person.
With his skills, personality, range of experiences and self made professional networks with influencers like maharajas, movie and sports stars, he could have been someone who really stood out as a newsmaking leader of a much bigger impact if he had possibly got to play a different set of cards. This is taking nothing away from his illustrious career.
He is hopefully proud that his brilliant potential is also finding expression through his kids and grand kids because of the sacrifices he must have made for them.
I am sure, from his heavenly abode, he is finding grammatical errors in this tribute that I have penned for him. I am also sure that he is having a hearty laugh with many of his princely long lost friends he had made over 95 years on earth! I am sure he is already promoted to a leadership role in that world and has started making a difference to lives of other heavenly souls. He must be driving his jeep to uncharted territories to pursue things he perhaps couldn’t do in his time on earth.
Goalie Kalyani as he was known to his sporting circles will be an absolute crowd favourite in the heavenly stadium.
Earth’s loss is Heaven’s gain. Thanks for the memories Dr.PVK!