Walking down the packed lanes of the market, amidst the hubbub of the Christmas air I look around the happy faces in the hustling surroundings. Not everything plush and exuberant makes me happy these days. It has been a week or so since grandpa left us— loss, tears and an obvious realization that people once gone never come back.
There was only one place I yearned to spend my vacation at — Granny’s home, is what we called it and what we knew it for. It was a place where granny resided permanently, with grandpa being just a visitor most of the times rather than a resident. Finally as old-age took over him, he returned back to his family, to his roots, putting to rest the passion of his life ‘law’. It was during the final decade of his life that I came in with close proximity with him— knowing him better and getting astonished at his weird habits.
Spending a major portion of his life among piles of papers scribbled with articles and principles from the Indian constitution, grandpa was the only man I knew who lived and cherished his job (unlike others who whine). An upright and honest legal practitioner by profession, his shabby clothes and well worn slippers reflected it, contrary to the other white-collared workers of his reputation.
Back in college when I read the biography of Samuel Johnson our reader in English made an unforgettable statement— “Geniuses are eccentric”. Grandpa was the only one I could relate this sentence to. A genius who could read and write Persian in a southern Indian state. He was eccentric — weird in a funny sense. He washed the currency coins fearing germs, he carried dettol soap cakes in his bag, he washed the walls of the bathroom and toilet after his bath or a visit to the loo, he covered his pillows in newspapers, paper-cuttings of anything related to law were bundled into a secure spot in his bag, just to name a few of his eccentricities. I can now conclude that he had a phobia for germs and a mania for law.
He was the only one I knew who exploited every scheme of the government in favor of the poor— from medical reimbursements to scholarships for the minorities, innumerable people are indebted to him for his hard-work with no apparent benefit for himself, and that was what kept him away from home all the time. Of all the things he subtly taught the world, I just want to grasp that quality of him where he would go red with anger when the ladies of the house indulged in gossip. Never did he gossip, never did he backbite but the world disregarded him for he earned no wealth by devious means. Never did he get carried away by the wealth of this world. All he saved for his last day was his staff and that little bag of his odd personal effects.
I will never forget those train journeys I made with you, the way you loved to eat crisp Indian breads, the way you sipped black tea with eyes closed, the way you pushed open the front door with your bag fearing germs if you touch it, the way you walked behind me and mommy all the way just to bargain with the rickshaw fellow and many more memories.
Oh! then we just came to know that he planted coconut trees in memory of his parents, in the same cemetery in which he is now buried, and many other charitable acts we know nothing off. I hope grandpa will be one among those seven kinds whom Allah(SWT) will protect in his shade on the day of judgement, for he did charity with no one having a hint of it. Ameen!