Every time I see the Promos for the film ‘Paa‘, I think of how strange it would be if my Grandfather were alive. For some unknown reason, Auro reminds me of the GrandPaa I never had. He died before I was even born.
[Pic courtesy Sulekha dot com]
My only memory of him are fragments of a story I’d heard somewhere, sometime (from my Grandmother, perhaps). That he was on the battlefield, and was severely hurt, along with a friend. And whilst they lay there to die, he felt thirsty, and managed somehow, to find a bottle of water. Just as he was about to take a sip, his friend motioned for some. And this gentleman thought for a second, and then selflessly gave away his water to the friend. And that was the final self-sacrificial of Mr.Raman. (Mr.Raman was my grandfather, as you might have smartly guessed by now).
So that was my impression of this stately looking gentleman. Talking of looks, he was dashing! One look at his wedding photographs, and I had this huge crush. ‘Handsome’ would be an understatement.
A few years ago, on a visit to our ancestral village (called Poondi), we had an unforgettable taste of life in the early century (this century, ofcourse. Don’t ask me if it is the 20th or 21st or 22nd century.. am always confused about this logic – apart from many other things, that is).
The entire village was made up of just a few streets. Rows and rows of neatly built houses. Each with a frontyard, cool bench along the wall (to sit and chew paan, perhaps), thatched roof, tiny skylit hall inside, and even tinier bedrooms and bathroom.
At that impressionable age, this only proved to etch my dead GrandPaa’s image deeper in my heart.
So the last time I had a fight with my Mummy, and she said ‘How did you turn out like this? Look at your dad…such a gentleman. And you?!!”, I replied with a quick ‘And you like this? Your Daddy was so noble and you are so immature even at this age!’.
Ofcourse she didn’t take it well. I had to all but hide under the sheets like a trembling coward.
‘Whadya mean NOBLE?’, she thundered.
‘Um…(gasp)…I mean…he ..he..fought in the war!’
‘Which war?’ she boomed.
‘…Uh.. the world war? I dunno! You should know, you were his daughter!’
To my utter surprise, she did not get furious at me at all. Instead she burst out laughing!
I gaped in silence, and in a short while she had tears in her eyes, and her face was red.
‘Mummy…are you Ok?’
‘Do you know how your Grandfather died?’ she answered with a question.
‘Y..ye.yes… in war?’ (I didn’t want her to know that I knew the touching story of his sacrifice).
She again burst out laughing. Her whole body was shaking now, and tears were still streaming down her eyes.
‘He died of heart attack!’, she replied when she could control her laughter for a moment.
‘Heart attack?’, I ventured. ‘Not thirst – on the battle field?’
‘Thirst?!! The only thirst he knew was Whiskey! And what battle field are you obsessed with? He was in merchant navy! Didn’t ever see a battle. Took early retirement, couldn’t control his drinking habit. And one day, he just died of a heart attack, leaving us to fend for ourselves.’
I had just lost a battle of belief. I retreated, hurt.
Never again will I talk of my dead grandPaa. May his soul RIP.
[Edited title from ‘Fictional rant’ to ‘Part fiction part rant’]