Aapeh (Grandfather in writer’s dialect)
In Heaven, a better place
The last time I saw you was almost four years ago, and the last thing I heard you say before we left your place in the hot and stuffy Bolero jeep was " Oh! I have trouble hearing from my left ear." I don't remember what conversation followed, before saying a final goodbye and leaving.
I was very young (I mean I still am but I must have been ten and a half years old) and I didn't know many things like I do today. Three months after our visit, I started a new session in school, when one day mom told me that you were diagnosed with cancer. I had heard of cancer before but didn't really know what it was. All I thought and understood was - you were going to die. Mom rushed to Delhi to assist you with your treatment. I, for all I know, did not bother about you. Mom was gone for a month and our mid-term papers were just around the corner. With no one to take care of us(me and my siblings) we pretty much did our own things and I remember I did terrible that term, every teacher scolded me. I got upset and was mad that mom was far away from home, to help you. I got mad that you were sick and weary. We just hoped and prayed that dad would be transferred to Delhi so that we could come see you.
Then one day, three years ago, we were all ready for school and were about to eat breakfast, when I heard dad say the words "Aapeh passed away last night. He couldn't make it." He said these words with a heavy heart, unsure of how to make us understand that you were gone. I didn't care at that time because I think I had some event in school that I was excited about. I was ten and a half, my brother nine and my sister five. My sister asked " Daddy what is the meaning of passed away?" And he said, "Aapeh has gone to heaven, he is with God." Dad had to rush to Delhi to be with Mom and other relatives, and we were left to stay at another relative's house.
I'm sorry that I was not at all bothered or concerned for my only Grandpa. Now when I look back at all the moments I spent with you, I realised I never really said I love you or even gave you a hug. I regret not being there for your funeral. I didn't care at the moment because I was selfish and thought only of myself. I visited your grave when I went back home to Mao early in January this year. I said hi and I laid a rose along with a note.
There are many things to say sorry for. I wish I could give you a big, tight and warm hug to make it all up. I'm sorry. But I am also very grateful for your life and the work that you did in your given time, and I know that you have been to many places. You have changed the lives of thousands of people and I am sure that they were all as grateful as I am for your life.
I don't recall many things about the time I spent with you, but I remember this one particular incident because it taught me to respect others and realise the love of a grandparent for their grandchild. If you can't remember, let me tell you. We came home to Mao(Manipur) to visit and spend time with you for the summer. We had a great time. I remember playing basketball by myself in the black tarred ground, imagining myself as an NBA star. It was a foggy day and the uneven tar ground was wet and slippery. I could see the rising clouds on the hills down below. I was talking to myself as a commentator while playing with the ball when you came out and asked what I was doing and a while later you took the ball and said " I will show you how to play, even old people like me can play." You started dribbling the ball and running, and then you slipped and fell down and hurt yourself. You went back in. I tried my best not to laugh and hide my smile. I was eight, and now, when I look back at all those memories, I am truly grateful for your life and the work that you have done and the lessons you taught your children and grandchildren.
I may not remember Apei(grandmother), but I am sure that she is happy that you could join her. Tell Apei that I love her for me. I'll see you when I get there. Until then goodbye.
Your first grandchild,