Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Great Grand Fathers and great grandfathers

This one is about Great and Grand Fathers metamorphosing into great grandfathers, caps intended. The GGFs used to be great and grand in their good old days. Naturally this is mostly about my own father. He really was our G G F like most men of his days. He never bothered to help our mother in bringing us up. Let alone the fact that he had never in his life attempted to help my mother in kitchen or with daily cores, he could not even warm up a glass of water for himself in his whole life. And as for us the children he never helped us with home work or uniforms or book binding or preparing for exams or any such things. Amma used to joke that he could not say which one of us was studying in which class without blinking. That might well have been joke because he was greatly interested in our education but for which fact we could not have reached where we are today. But let us skip it as that is not the subject matter here. We used to watch wonder struck the way in which his brothers helped their children, our cousins with their school related works that I have just mentioned.
But he turned out to be a g gf with the arrival of grandchildren. He would play with them like never with us. But that is not much you might say. Just listen. Well, when my younger son was yet to become three years old, I had left him with my parents for a couple of months as I was particular that I would put kids in day care centres only after they completed three. My unmarried younger sister who loves kids helped my mother keep my son happy throughout. But they were living in Cuddalore some 17-18 hours of difficult bus journey from Trivandrum where I was living. The distance made it difficult for me to visit them often and when I could no longer bear it I decided to bring back my son to Trivandrum. But the question of who would take care of him when I went for work remained. I told my mother that I would take my father for that purpose. She threw a glance t me as if to ask “Have you gone insane”, which I ignored. Off went the three of us to Trivandrum. From the very next day I started going to office leaving my about-to-complete three years in my father’s custody. Not only that my elder son who was six years old would come from school in the evening. He had to manage them till I was back from office. Not an easy job for even an experienced woman. I would prepare food and leave instructions to my father. Believe me or not, when I came back in the evening I didn’t hear any complaint from any one of the three on any single day for about the nearly two months this arrangement was in place. Everyone in the entire family including my mother was totally taken aback. He had food all by himself, fed my younger son on time and took care of both the children when the elder on was also back. He only missed his 4p.m coffee and had to wait for my return to have it. So you could inspire confidence in anyone if only you tried sincerely was the lesson I learnt from the episode. So my G G F had turned into a g gf, no?
Other stories follow. Again, against everyone’s advice I had the audacity to send them with only my father to take care of them during the 7 hours long bus journey to Madurai.
Once he took my 9 & 6 years old sons to my sister’s place, during summer vacation.
 We went to see them off in the bus stand and requested the driver and conductor to take care of them and drop them at Thirungar bus stop, a few kilometers ahead of Madurai junction. That would make it easy for him to take them to my sister’s house situated at a walking distance from Thirunagar bus stop. From the moment the bus passed Thirumangalm my father kept reminding the conductor several times of his need to get down at Thirunagar. At one point the conductor got so irritated and started swearing at my father in an indecent language and the driver also joined him in showering abuses. My father who ws not used to undertaking travel with such great responsibilities and was very patient with my sons till then also got irritated by that time and started shouting back. That he said to the conductor, “You must have been Ravana in your previous birth” is all my son remembers when he recalls the incident today. All said they reached my sister’s place intact. While in Madurai he used to take all the grandchildren to a nearby park for playing.(My elder sister’s three sons and my two sons in all aged from 13 to 6). Once he took them all the way from Thirunagar to Town Hall Road, near Meenakshi Temple some 10-12 kilometers in distance. He took a bus up to the Periar bus stand and walked them for 2 kilometers to a sports shop in Town Hall Road as vehicles won’t ply near the temple. This was absolutely normal in those days as people were used to travelling by public transport and walking where necessary in those good old days. But my father doing this surrounded by five kids would have been a sight. As far s we knew he would walk any distance to avoid confronting bus drivers, conductors and co-passengers. But taking pains to do that with the kids around him is still a memory to cherish for all of us in the family.
Truly a g gf wasn’t he?
Well, all this took place some 28-25 years back and my Great Grand Father turned great Grandfather left us in 20 years back in 1994 on this day, November 19th. Now I too have become grandmother, but I miss you so much my dear father. Bless us all from where you are.
November 19th happens to be the birthday of Indira Gandhi.
It also happens to be the birthday of my daughter-in-law Gaythri, who is interested in listening to my golden memories.
So let me dedicate this to her as a birthday gift.

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