Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Appa, I love you


You were my first inspiration; my first hero. I was always in awe of your intelligence, power of observation and incisive analytical skills. Not to forget, your stylish handwriting and signature. When I learned how to sketch and make portraits, I knew there were two people I desperately wanted to capture on paper, because I was confident that I could muster all the patience it called for. Grandma and you. I was delighted that my attempt was worthwhile if not brilliant. 

You were a man very different from any other I have known. A man who did not shy away from breaking stereotypes and displaying emotion or shedding tears. Soft-spoken, immensely patient, unassuming, humble, strong, and introspective. Always helpful around the house; in fact, you'd be a part of the miniscule 1% of the population that has the capacity and large-heartedness to run several errands every day without a single murmur. 

How you carried me, when I was a terrified 6yo, on your shoulders all the way to the hospital where I was to be operated on to remove my tonsils is etched in my memory. The simple surprise gifts you occasionally got for me would warm the cockles of my heart. The morning walks on which you accompanied me for several months to help me become healthier, when in my twenties, will always be a fond part of my memories. How you held my hand on several occasions when I felt weak was something I took for granted, until now. Not to forget, I wonder if there's anyone else, in the family, who gets my sense of humour as much as you did.

You deserve all the credit for introducing me to books when I was a receptive 10-year-old. I remember those exciting weekend trips to the City Central library in Rajajinagar and the anticipation of finding a good Enid Blyton book involving Noddy or Famous Five. Left to myself, as I stepped into my teens, I'd not have graduated to Wodehouse if not for your concerted efforts to take me to a well-stocked private library and recommend new authors. It was because of you that I got introduced to Plum's delightful and divine humour and the reason why I've derived pure joy and happiness from his books to overcome so many bad days and low phases. 

Your ability to be an ideal playmate for toddlers and children is worth a hundred stories. I've often admired and been amazed by your ability to engage children for hours at a stretch, make them laugh, baffle them, help them learn and yet give them the feeling that they're with an "equal". 

You've not particularly shared stories of your accomplishments at work. So it was moving and an example of your humility when your colleagues and friends raved about how great a scientist you were. Your popularity amongst farmers, colleagues and novices alike is something we are in awe of and proud of. You'd, however, occasionally come to wrong conclusions on family matters despite that immensely scientific brain of yours. This is something I've playfully teased you about - and very few people would have laughed in response and been the absolute sport that you were.

I know I've hurt you on many occasions, inadvertently and otherwise. I'm not going to ask you to forgive me because I know you already did, as is your nature. I can only hope my genuine love for you overshadowed my ignorance, impatience and other character flaws. 

The single most unanswerable question on the minds of every single person who knows you is "Despite being the gentle, affectionate and humble soul that he was, why did destiny give him such a deadly disease and keep him on pins and needles for 7 months?" We don't know. We might never discover the answer but we can bring ourselves to believe that there was a reason. There's one thing we can do - Invest in research projects that aim to find the causes of and solutions for ALS/MND.

Ending on a positive note, I'm grateful to life for giving us opportunities to jointly build memories in the last few years; before you fell irrecoverably ill. Our trips to Kerala, Chikmaglur, Nainital, Kokkare Belur and even the neighbourhood restaurants are things I want to go back to and relive in my mind often. I hope you will appear in my dreams and continue to be a source of kindness, love and light. 


May 27th. 2019 

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