Tombstone of joy

Way before we were in a situation of learning more in crisis than in comfort, I came across this moment I captured a few months earlier on my way back home from work. This grandfather came to drop off his grandson everyday without fail at 2 PM in the blaring heat, rain, or chilly afternoons. My cab would halt at this signal for right about 60 seconds. From the looks of it, he aged almost 70+ to me. Amongst the whole crowd, my eyes would be glued to how they spend their time till the kids school bus arrived. Like you can see from the picture, he was always well dressed. A hat, good ol’ round spectacles, and formals. Felt like this was the only time he got to be out on the streets with his favorite human. They would cross the road, the boy holding his hand all along. They would then stand in a line where all the guardians stood with their young ones. The boy would jump around, say hi to his friends and get back to the old man excitedly talking about probably how his day is going to look like at school for him. The old man was classy. He would exchange pleasantries with a few dads and moms around and while talking, he would draw his pipe from his pocket and light it up with a matchbox. In these 60 seconds, I have watched him do this everyday. The boy looked up to his grandfather. His eyes beamed with a smile every time he would look at him. He adjusted his school bag and swung the bottle of water around his head. He hugged his grandfather as his bus arrived. The old man gave the boy a push to help him hop onto the first step of the bus and the kid waved until the bus took the next turn.Β 

I was never very close to my grandparents because my family moved abroad when I was just a year old. We used to visit India during my summer holidays which would be 2 months long. My mother’s dad had passed when my mother and her sisters were just about teenagers. But I would love to listen to my grandmother speak about him and relive his memories through me. My fathers dad – my grandfather was a hero during the Indian Independence. He fought the war and aided the Naxals to a great extent. We hailed from a very wealthy family. Owning a huge pharmacy in the heart of the city where we had a huge house. A typical ancient bengali architecture: a porch on the ground floor; red oxidised stone floors; slatted Venetian or French-style windows painted green; round knockers on doors; horizontal wooden bars to lock doors; an open rooftop terrace; a long first-floor verandah with patterned cast-iron railings; intricately worked cornices; and ventilators the size of an open palm, carved as intricate perforations into walls. Because of the kind hearted (or the most gullible) man that my grandfather was, he donated all of this post the war when the country was facing a huge downfall. Everytime during my visits, I would love to spend my time with him. He had a great collection of vintage watches, pens and literature. He was a well read man. When I was just born, my mother fondly recalled how he would sit all night next to me to make sure no mosquitoes bite me. He was a funny man. We would play “Tiger in the forest” with my fake toy gun that would make noise when triggered. He and I were the A team of hunters. God knows how many of those Royal Bengal’s did we hunt!! He was particular of his meals and they had to be on his table on time. He was pretty conservative when it came to the women of the house. He would not permit late nights, or women taking the decisions. I was not much fond of that trait of his. Regardless, we lost him to a cerebral attack a few days post his and grandmothers 60th marriage anniversary. I am sure he is in a better place now surrounded by his favourite food and music.Β 

I clicked this picture from the cab because the smile the old man had here is so similar to the one my grandfather had. ❀


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