childhood

A letter to my ailing Grandfather

Dear Grandfather,

Mom called to say that you are very sick.

In the five second pause, between mom saying that the doctor offered little hope and her bursting into tears, the memories of you roller-coastered around in my head.

Memories of us may not belong in the Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul. You were a busy man. Retired from the military where you were a flight engineer, you set up a cafeteria, travel agency, telephone booth… You built a home for your  family and the business generated revenue and did not go under. The house had a big garden. Grandma had coconut trees, guava, custard apple, drumstick, spinach, a whole terrace wall of jasmine, lots of hibiscus, mehandi, curry leaves and this is where my memories begin.

The fact still remains though that I never felt attached to you. A chauvinist and misanthrope, we learnt to steer well clear of you early in our childhood. You were also a contradiction of sorts, you would favour some grandkid (s) over others, son over daughters, you know. However one can’t deny that you provided for your wife and children while they lived with you. You called my brother and I to the room on the first floor of the house and opened up your old trunk to show your medals. You told us how the war was, that you didn’t have to go to the battle field but stay in the yard and work on fighter planes. You loved those medals and went ballistic when grandma lost a few of them.

You loved your scooter (Bajaj Super FE) and would let me clean it. We loved that scooter – you and I. I knew how to repair the brakes, oil the wheels and get it to start on troublesome days and you let me.

I’m lost on details but you and your son decided to tear down the house and have these builders construct an apartment complex. I was there that demolition day; I watched how you caressed a last intact portion of wall with tears in your eyes. It was obvious that you wanted your son to have the best at whatever cost. Though a lot of people criticized you that day, I felt sorry for you.

Through the years that you were sick, we used to visit you and if we stayed more than five minutes, you would get mad and say hurtful things. We kept coming back because mom made us. I felt jealous and angry that you would have a daughter who loved you so unconditionally despite everything. You had someone to shed tears over your condition. Mom loves you inspite of… inspite of… you must have done something to deserve that love. If I have children who loved me half as much as my mom loves you, I would count myself very lucky indeed.

You asked me to forgive you and I asked if you would bless me instead. It was so hard to answer you. It is not hard to fathom why you are terrified to look at yourself. Now you are a mere shadow of your former self. Your eyes are like haunted pools of fear and confusion. It is hard to look into them. You are afraid to pray.

Grandfather, you may be scared, but we are not. We are praying for you – your grandchildren and children. We know that behind that terrifying veil, there is no pain. We believe in God and that when you meet him, life would not have ravaged you. Raising children, building a home, loosing things in life would all be behind you.

I’d like to think that you would be just a little boy to God, who would envelop you with his wide arms. He would guide you to streams of sparkling water like then ones you would bathe in as a child. You would look in and see your eyes glistening with merriment. There are no lines on your face, no scars that the world gave you. Maybe there would be juicy mangoes that you love there. You could eat them whole, the juices running down your hand and dripping down from your elbow.

Maybe God would pick you up and throw you into the air like your dad used to when you were a little boy and punctuate the air with your laugh that the world hasn’t heard in a long time. Don’t be scared grandpa, we are praying for you. We know that there is no darkness behind the veil, just God waiting to say “Michael, welcome home”

Love,

Archie

Cricinfo Crazy? Not me!

Dhawan flattens WI in decider

Pakistan win series in thrilling finish

Scream the headlines On ESPN Cricinfo. Dressed up in smart blue, cricinfo is more than just an average cricket information site. Live scores, blogs, videos, opinions and  diary entries ensure that there is something for everyone. ESPN even has other games like Fantasy Cricket and Jigsaw that you can play on this site. No, I’m not cricinfo crazy, but I visit the site now and then. Let me tell you why

Growing up, my uncle used to round up the kids and play cricket. That means we had to bowl, field, get water, refreshments and endure the wrath of aunties next door whose vegetable gardens the ball landed; all this while uncle practiced his batting skills. When he got tired we could go home and lick our wounds. We dreaded days when all we had to do was chase a ball around. My brother and I were quite creative making fortresses, pirate ships, flying carpets etc… cricket- we never related to because we hated playing it. Yet, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the world cup and other series. It is easy to enjoy matches in the company of family or friends through we do not care about it at all.

Cricket has evolved into something that brings people together on a

Cricket Lovers

Pic Courtesy Amsentil dot com

common turf. A neighbour’s house (who hosts some of the most violent inter family shouting matches in the city) fills with shouts of encouragement and disappointment and cheers when Chennai Super Kings play. We celebrated and grieved for Sachin, cricket lovers and non-enthusiasts alike. We were invited to cricket parties even when India or our IPL teams were not playing. We watched cricket finals in neighbourhood parks projected on giant screens.

On days when I miss that part of my childhood, mostly spent spinning vain plots to hide from our cricket crazy uncle… I visit cricinfo and immerse myself in a world that I love to hate as a child. I may not be a fan of the sport, but love the spirit of what Cricket stands for from a common person’s perspective in India -Camaraderie, a lot of shouting, leaving office early, crowds in front of TV showrooms and barber shops, impromptu parties in roadside tea stalls… ah! Time to visit crickinfo again!