This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 41; the forty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "SWEET AND SOUR"
A couple of weeks ago, we visited Dad's eldest brother who was bedridden. Bade papa was all of 85, yet full of life and energy. He saw us stream in to meet him and the most radiant smile lit up his face.
"Come, come, come..." he beckoned us in and motioned for us to sit around him.
Badi Ma, dutifully arranged for chairs to be placed around his bed so that he could see and talk to all of us. His memory seemed to be failing him and he pointed to my hubby,
"This is....." he tried hard to remember.
"My husband, S" I added helpfully.
"Ah! yes, how can I forget!"
He turned slowly to my sister and recognised her immediately. He seemed mighty pleased with himself and clicked his frail fingers in glee. Taking a cue, she brought her husband closer to him and told his name.
"Oh, yes, I know, I know..." he said, not wanting us to know he had indeed forgotten the names.
The kids came around and climbed on his bed jumping around, seemingly oblivious to the old man on the bed.
"Sshhhh....get down this minute," I chided.
"No, no..let them be," he brushed my comment aside, "I like it this way...if kids don't behave like this, who else will? you and me?" he laughed.
I was scared they'd fall on him and cause him pain.
We spoke for a long time about the good times and he would pause to reflect on those memories as if they had just passed by. He was struggling to speak with the slur in his voice, and badi ma dutifully translated what we could not understand.
Finally we got up to leave and he hugged each one us lying down.
"I might not be around the next time you visit here" he remarked, as I took a last look before leaving his room. A thin smile trying to form on his lips but quickly fading away.
A lump formed in my throat at the thought of never being able to see him again. "No bade papa, you'll be fine," I assured, not so sure myself, "don't say such things."
He simply nodded and smiled, maybe at my immaturity, maybe at my childlike wish.
We spoke about him on our way back home. He had been an inspiration to all of us with his vast knowledge, his thirst for education for every single member of our large family, and his sense of humour and wit.
The next day we had been travelling back home by train, when Dad called us to tell us that bade papa had passed away that afternoon. It was incredibly hard to believe that the man we had seen in flesh and blood less than 24 hours ago was no more.
Badi Ma told us how happy he had been after we left. Till he went to bed, he could not stop raving about us and our kids and the wonderful time we had together, she said.
Sweet and sour memories these, souring before we could enjoy the sweetness of it all. But these are the ones I will cherish all my life. I am happy we were able to make the visit that day, or I would have lost the opportunity of bringing him whatever little happiness we did, in his final moments.
RIP Bade Papa.