Author's note: However much I write, there is this one man whom I can never stop writing about. He figured in my life until it was time for me to make decisions about my life. Or maybe, he stayed too long, who knows?
He was an ever-angry man, a strict disciplinarian, a stickler for cleanliness, managed time perfectly and was the Hitler of The House. The House feared him, they thought too hard before making a statement that could receive ‘flak’ from him and dreaded quite evidently, the banging of the large mahogany wooden door. The House featured two obedient sons with families apart from the man himself and his wife. The elder son had a wife and a daughter, while the younger one had a son with his wife. All in all, The House housed a joint family of eight. The younger son soon moved out owing to business commitments to a different house in the city.
The man’s anger fits never stopped, his routine continued and the Nazi-like regime seemed to daunt The House, almost every day. The man’s wife, his older son, his wife and daughter were the ones who occupied The House. No, the man was not a torturer, his defence training and authoritarian behaviour sent people nervously skiing a million meters away until they could secure themselves a safe place, in or outside of The House. What The House did not realize was that, amid all the chaos, the man, found solace in opening himself up to the little Princess, who was the daughter of his older son.
The little Princess rested happily on his knees, she wrote letters on his back, earned little shillings every time she felt like a chocolate or ice cream, and was silently taken out to buy the attire she preferred for her birthday and on holidays, was given the liberty to play the game of Trade and cards with the man, sitting erect across each other on the table, with the air-conditioner humming away in full blast. They shared moments, time, space and laughter despite the difference of sixty five years between them.
She was growing up, he was opening up. He told her stories of the scary jungles in the remotest villages of India to the availability of the rarest weed and drugs. He thrilled her by recalling his life encounters with the Ouija board and made sure she spoke the right English and framed the right sentence while in a conversation. She made mistakes, but she learnt. She hugged him when she slept; she watched TV with him and pointed out to a cycle ad. The next day, she had a green Ladybird standing gracefully in the garage of The House. Years later, with the same zeal, he bought her a beautiful silver bracelet watch. She proudly exhibited her watch to the world – little did she know that the watch was an indicator that the time between them was running out.
End note: The last time my grandfather and I interacted was hours before his death when I made him sip on some coffee because he was feeling unwell.