My whole purpose of writing this book is to gift it to my kids. I don’t want
them to miss their dadu, their grandfather. It’s my sincere attempt to keep him alive in our memories for a long time, forever. They are aware and they are both with me in this process of creating a memoir. My son has spent some good times with him and we often sit together and talk about the days spent with baba, his loving dadu. The day he lost a tooth he said now he has only 10 teeth left. When I asked why 10, he said last time when we went to Dhanbad, dadu counted my teeth and said I have 11! He keeps talking about him and this title is also suggested by him which I completely love. They enjoy listening to our childhood days, what we did, what games we played and most of those incidents have now become our bedtime stories. Sharing a few here-
One day, we kids were playing in the garden when we heard a bird continuously chirping very loud. It appeared unusual so we went to find out the bird. It was sitting on our hibiscus tree, a small bird, it didn’t move and kept flapping its wings. We didn’t understand what happened to the bird but we sensed that it was in some pain. I ran inside to tell baba about it and he quickly came out to see the bird.
He saw that the bird was trapped in one of the branches and its leg was surrounded by a lot of ants. The leg somehow got stuck to the branch and the poor bird couldn’t move it. He tried removing the ants but the bird still couldn’t fly. He then asked us to bring water and started pouring water on its leg that was stuck. That helped and soon the bird flapped its wings harder and flew up in the sky. That was such a joy to watch and we cheered looking at the bird fly happily.
This is just one of many stories I keep telling my kids about their dadu. Stories of how he never scolded us, how he would bring home sweets on the day of our results, and how he would love all the pets we had. Another day, during a solar eclipse, we were watching it on the television and then they announced that it was dangerous to stay out as it may damage the eyes. Baba realised our pet dog, Jimmy was out in the garden barking at random birds. He quickly asked him to get in and he came wagging his tail and sat beside us to watch television with us and how the sun formed a diamond ring.
He was an expert in mathematics and never used a calculator. He would sit with us for hours to make maths easy for us. All our school projects were his responsibility. I would always forget to tell him in advance what I had to take to school the next day but he would still not get angry that why am I informing him at the eleventh hour. He would then sit at night, take out some boxes and cardboard and help us make the project work.
One such project was to display the tenses used in grammar. The creative him, made a whole train, with matchboxes and named each coach with a tense. He then added old carrom discs as wheels and, made a track, added lights and antenna to the train. Each coach had a flag carrying the names of the tenses. No wonder my project work was selected for an exhibition and everyone loved it.
Life would be easygoing if dadu was daddy. No rush, no scolding, not to worry about maths, delicious meals, Bengali movies, cricket matches and a whole lot of pampering. Baba wouldn’t even let maa wake us up early in the morning. He hardly ever stopped us from doing anything. He would teach you how to ride a cycle and would run behind you to ensure you don’t fall and get hurt. He would teach you to write letters, which was an activity we did after Durga puja, write letters to our relatives and post them. He would take you to the bank, post office, railway station and many other places to show you how to get things done all by yourself. He would take you to the market to teach you how to pick the perfect mangoes and fresh vegetables. He’ll ask you to stand beside you while he would cook and, in a way, teach you too. He would shower you all the confidence so you are never scared of trying new things and would sit with you to talk about anything and everything.
Life was fun with him around, never had to worry about a thing and he was always there for us. I might not be as good as him as a parent but I try my best to follow his footsteps and do all the things for my kids exactly the way he did for us.
Coming up next –
J – Jharia Dispute and the Shock of his Life
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