I forgot to mention my another hobby. I write true life stories and this is the story of my grand parents. My paternal grandmother passed away when my dad was less than a year old. This story goes back 60 years.
My father is the last of the family of 4 children. He has two bothers and a sister, much older than him. Those were the days of Joint family. All the cousins live together in huge family houses. There is so much bonding between them, I really don’t see any difference between my dad’s own brothers and his cousins.
My paternal grandparents died even before my parents were married. So I never got to see them, but I have heard such amazing stories about them from my cousins, uncles and aunts. I never tire of listening to these stories.
Even as a child I was amazed at how much my grand father was adored and respected by everyone. When my dad speaks of his dad, he does so with so much reverence. “His dad can do nothing wrong”. My cousin brother once told me “Thatha was a giant. You cannot but, look up at him.” Because of the many stories I have heard, my view of my Granddad is larger than life. Whenever I think of him, I get images of ‘good old days’, which you hear about. Of days when relationships were valued, when people had time for each other, when meal times were happy family get-togethers, when festivals were grand and lot of fun. Is it possible to feel nostalgic about a world you were never part of; well, that’s what I feel when I think of my grandparents.
But I have often wondered, what made my grandpa such a loved man. He cannot be all that perfect. Apparently, he was a very busy lawyer. He couldn’t have spent lot of time with his children .Yet, none of them seemed to resent it. One day, I got to hear this story from my dad’s cousin brother. It is one of my favorite stories.
This uncle is my Grandfather’s brother’s son. I call him peddanana. His parents died when he was very young. So he was bought up by my grandparents. My dad says that he was not even aware of the fact that peddanana was not his own brother until his marriage. Peddanana says that he was bought up with so much love. He was given so many privileges which grandpa’s own sons were not given. Only he was allowed to use the car. My dad’s own brother and peddanana passed out of junior college at the same. Being an influential lawyer, he could use his influence get one seat in Guindy engineering college. He had to make a choice between his son and his brother’s son. He put peddanana in engineering college, at the expense of his own son. Peddanana said that he couldn’t have been better looked after even by his own parents.
Peddanana’s relationship with my Grandfather came to an abrupt end when he married a girl of his choice, against my grandfather’s wishes. My Grandpa apparently told my him “ Don’t even see my face when I am dead”. Peddanana relocated to
Hyderabad after his marriage. Although he made several attempts to reconcile their differences, grandfather could never be pacified.
One day, peddanana was talking about ‘good old days’. He refers to my grand parents as Amma / Nana (mother / father) although they were his aunt & uncle. He said “Everyone talks about father’s greatness. All our discipline and character, they attribute to him. But I honestly feel it had lot to do with our mother. She taught us the values of discipline, faith in god and honesty”. When she died her son (my dad) was less than one year old and her daughter was still not married. When she knew she was dying, she told my grandfather “ I will not ask you to take care of your children. They are your children, so you will take good care of them. Whereas, Venkat (peddanana) was given to us after his parents death. He is our responsibility and it is our duty to take good care of him. Look after him like our own son. Let him never feel the absence of his parents”
Her sister-in-law told her “You don’t worry about your daughter. I will get her married to one of my sons”. She replied “ Don’t bring me back to these worldly affairs. I want to die thinking of god”
It was then that I discovered the secret of my Granddad’s greatness. It was the woman behind him.