My Dadu’s 100th Birthday

Today is my dadu (mom’s dad’s) 100th birthday. When he was born, of course, there was no ipad and photography was an occasion in itself….so infact much as I would like, I cannot flip back and see him go through the years that brought us 2 world wars, Indian independence, the growth of an independent country. I would have loved to see the black and white backgrounds offer glimpses of his youth, transitioning to colored backgrounds as that became more popular.

But atta dadu, as I called him doesnt live in pictures. He lives mainly in feelings, in many hearts scattered around the globe. He lives in a feeling of warmth I get when I look back on the brief time I spent with him.

I was very small when he passed away. And it is funny, now that my son is five, to look back and think of what I remember. In terms of definite formed memories, there is little  – I remember the man, his form, his face. I remember his easy chair and even him sitting on it. I remember him lying on his bed and someone pulling his white hairs while I was next to him in that big room with a four poster and enough space to run around his bed in childhood games. I remember him on the verandah, and there seems to be an aura of bad news in that memory. I remember him telling me before my nap that he would meet me in dreamland on a flying horse. And how I closed my eyes and tried to dream it all. It did not work for a few days, and then the dream came.

And then he lives in stories of my mother – her childhood, his work as an engineer on the railways that fueled a hungry young nation, their houses, the many places they visited in the ‘saloon cars’ exclusive to railway officers. And he lives in my sweet tooth, and my decision to join engineering. And traits of my sons I have not even seen, and may never know to be part of him.

1910 Haileys cometAnd what I remember is love. Its funny, all the times he must have held me or played with me as a child. Or maybe as befits men of his generation just hung around a crying baby. I remember none of that. Only the love.

Today while driving home, late, I felt an irresistable desire to stop and get a cake. And a couple of treats for my son. I never do that. My agenda, once work is finished, is to get home ASAP. Schedules beckon. Stress, too. Today I felt none of that and I did my little diversion.

It was only when I actually sat down with the cake, and delved into the silky richness surrounded by a million pieces of couscous on my furniture and floor, remnants of dinner, dishes piled high, boys sleeping that I knew it was a gift from him.

Happy 100th birthday!

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  1. Munny


    U bought back a whole lot of memories for me too. Very nicely put.

  2. joysree

    i,m touched by your beautifully written descp.of attadadu’s memory.i enjoyed reading it.

  3. Ranajit

    Your Atta Dadu must have blessed you and your boys from up The Heavens on HIS 100th BIRTHDAY !!

  4. Khushi

    Thank you all for your comment!

  5. Indrani

    A beautiful post. Very touching and well written.

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