I know all of you feel sad about a man of such great intelligence and theatrical talent being suddenly spirited away at the age of only 86. But sadness doesn’t suit a man who blasted the doctors and the nurses in the hospital for not giving him his Aaloo Bhaja. For someone who called my mother Ruby Rai, just to humor her questioning his sanity. For someone who did the best one-shoulder dance in the history of mankind. Or for someone who always thought the world was coming to an end, whenever I opened the fridge.
He was a sharp, clever man.
Calculated exactly when he should quit smoking, so that the chain-smoker he was, could live up to this age of 86. Calculated exactly when his children should be married off, and exactly when he should get rid of his teeth; just so that he wouldn’t have to spend money on fixing them each time they became weak and fell off. He knew how many stones to wear, the length to which he should cut his hair, and yes, the exact number of children he should produce.
But he had his fixations. He believed all of us were technologically handicapped and nobody could fix his telephone. He also believed that if someone on the other side of the telephone said ‘Please hold on’, it meant he had to go on shouting ‘Hello’ till one of us snatched the phone away from him.
As a granddaughter, both of my grandfathers have taught me many things. But most importantly, they have taught me this: How to be my own grandfather. The recipe is as follows:
One headful of hair, a mix of gray and black, which could slowly become bald if needed.
One brain, which includes an armful of intelligence, a fistful of smartness, a ton of sanity mixed with the occasional bouts of insanity, and a handful of humor, to be let out on some special occasions.
One pair of eyes which look through every lie, every cover-up and every goof up.
Two hands which can carve out the world’s map with the precision of a cartographer.
One pair of legs which stay fitter than that of us 20 something-year-olds.
And one mouth, which can talk, quiz, reason, and debate, about anything and everything under the sun.
With both of them gone, do you know what’s going to be my toughest ever job? To be my own Dadu.