( What I wrote for him)
How can one even begin to sum up twenty two years in a few short paragraphs? For twenty two years, I have had the privilege of sharing my life with a man I lovingly called Bhaiyadada. One of my earliest memories of him would be during the sweltering summer months, when I would come home from kindergarten and sure enough, there would be a mango ice lolly waiting for me in the refrigerator. Unlike other grandfathers, Bhaiyadada never bought the lollies- he made them himself, storing the mangoes in a specific way and ensuring that his grandkids got to savour the most delicious ice lollies that he had almost magically concocted. Ice lollies apart, he was also a fabulous cook and my siblings and I will remember many a Sunday afternoon when he cooked his famous chicken rezala with rice.
With his saucy wit and sharp sense of humour, he would often regale me with stories about football matches during his time in Murshidabad and during his college days. While being extremely critical and analytical about misdemeanours, he was always someone who was kind to animals and birds, to trees and to those in need. He always told me to fight for what I believed in, even if it meant going against the wishes of everyone else. He told me about how oppressed he felt as a young boy, having to wear formal clothes in order to attend classes with his tutors, something that he found so disdainful that later on in life he would only be seen in his Panjabi and pajama and sometimes, his trademark lungi.
Bhaiyadada was a man of great resilience. Even while his eyesight weakened, I remember him insisting that he come to the Boimela with me. Even though I was apprehensive at first, his characteristic stubbornness won me over and I remember walking through the dusty Maidan with him as he slowed down, gasping for breath. Everytime I asked him if he wanted to go back, he would reply, “Aami ekdom theek acchi.” After the book fair haul, I remember reading some of the books aloud to him.
His sharp mind and his thirst for knowledge never really disappeared. Even in his last days, my grandmother would read him passage after passage from his (and sometimes her) favourite books.
He touched many peoples’ lives, and often very silently. In this very difficult time and in a faraway land, the one thing that makes me strong is his sparkling smile and the twinkle in his eye when he would said, “Ekdin jokhon aami thakbo na, tokhon aami norok theke toke dekhte pabo.”