Monday, August 24, 2009

'After I'm gone...' The keeper of our family's stories unearths a new one.

It's odd how routine things have the ability to become meaningful.

If you've been following this blog, you might recollect that a couple of months ago I wrote about the sadness that accompanies loss. In this case, the loss of my grandfather - Nanaji. This loss was shared by many people. His children. Grandchildren. Great-grandchildren. Sisters. Cousins. Random people he crossed paths with along the journey of his life. And of course, his wife. My Nani.

In the wake of being forced to say goodbye to someone, there are a lot of routine things that need to be done. The closet has to be rearranged. Clothes have to be put away. The dressing table has to be cleared of half the things... no one to use the shaving cream anymore. You know, the things we all ponder about, hoping that we will never be called on to do so. Unfortunately this time, when the bottle stopped spinning, it pointed straight at Nani. Thankfully, she had a lot of help.

When it was all over, it was time to live again. Or at least, to learn to live without one half of you... the half that made the last 57 years so rich and fruitful.

It was on one of the routine days that followed that it happened. Nani found a routine-looking (albeit old and dusty) diary amongst some of the other routine things that all the 'rearranging' had conjured up from under the mattress, behind the art frame, in ancient trunks with heavy bolts... from amongst the gatherings of a lifetime, my Nani found a secret. She found my grandfather's romantic side, hidden away in the pages of a diary.

Dated 1944, a year after their marriage, the pages of this diary are well-populated. What's in them, I do not know. I haven't read them. I just picture my Nani slowly reading to herself the mind and thoughts of the young, 30-something man she had married... such an anomaly to the 89-year-old husband she had just said goodbye to. What did she find in those pages? Youth? Early romance? Ambition of a self-made man? Hopes of a new husband? Worries of a man about to start a family?

I have a feeling I may never get to read that diary. And what is more, I might not want to. Some things are meant to be sacred. All I know is that when she was done reading it, this is what Nani had to say -

"I never knew he loved me so much.'

Oh she knew alright. We all did. But I understand what she was trying to articulate. My grandfather was a man of few words. Quiet, dignified, proud and successful. He was old-school. And he was kind and gentle. But not the sort who would say, 'I love you' often. The fact that he kept a diary in itself was an eye-opener to us all. And to find a mention of herself in almost every page within that diary was another for my Nani. To know a man an entire lifetime and then to find that you're still learning things about him after he's gone... nice things. Romantic things. True things.

What must that feel like?


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