The last time I went to see him in the large, ill- equipped hospital in Kerala, he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He had scratched himself so hard that there was a wound which revealed his fibula. Diabetes and old-age had cost him sensitivity in some part of his skin, hence the above. It also put a full stop on all other complex surgical possibilities. But, when I supported him to the water closet, his hold would cause grip-marks on my arm to remain for minutes, purple in color.
Later, that day I was left alone in the room with him. I would look at him and he would catch my eyes, and nod a “It’s okay. Still here!” with a grin which usually followed a satisfyingly, large peg of scotch. This continued every five minutes that he would wake up after. Because he had practiced lying still for several minutes, it would become difficult to hear him breathe. And, because I didn’t want to be a lazy grand-kid who was a bad attender as well, we would play this paragraph over and over again.
I was asked by a Whatsapp-friend (conscience-acupuncture), “Were you close to him ?”
Well, yes and no. Till the last time we met and he recognized me, he had this overpowering sense of security about him. Which would disarm the bit of atheism in me, keep me from opening-up to him completely and guard me fiercely against harm like a tigress to her cubs. I don’t think I ever grew up in his eyes and I find this strangely comforting.
He was also the guy to get me bragging rights when he allowed me two glasses of sweet coconut rum, after a long but fruitful stork hunt and a futile search for Limca. I was five years old and the futile search was more like couple of hours in the summer Kerala sun, walking the whole village (5-10 kms) with a double barrel and a brat in tow, looking for Limca and reaching a settlement with rum.
Tonight, I leave for his last rites. RIP, grandpa.