During the Lockdown, I was organizing my room and I was gripped with panic! I had lost my Montblanc pen, which I was presented with during my stint in Europe. I tried in vain to remember where I had last seen it. Something as sacred as this Montblanc, I had kept it in such a secret place that I forgot all about it!
I was reading a short booklet ” Hommage A Frederic Chopin” and I came across this quote on the 4th page. It went something like this, ” On 11th October 1846, Frederic Chopin wrote in a letter to George Sand: Time is the best censor, patience the best teacher.”By the time I finished reading that booklet, I had a brainwave. I rushed to find that old office bag that I had stoved beneath a set of other bags. I checked the side pouch and there it was, my prized possession- the black coloured Montblanc inscribed with my name”. Can I say, ” That little part of that day was called Happyness”?
That pen episode made me contemplative and it was a throwback moment. Who was my role model when it came down to my collection of pens and writing? It was my grandfather. In the 1980s, he had a collection of imported Parker pens and a diary which he used to constantly write in.
On this Father’s day let me pen my memoirs of a man who was a father figure to me. My grandfather was a civil engineer in the Kerala electricity board. After retirement, he and my grandmother had left the city and moved to their native village where he enjoyed farming. After my father’s demise in 1984, we were just coming to terms with the new way of living our lives. My grandfather moved into our house in 1989. Into our lives, he came with our grandmother with this credo “Nothing means more than you and family”. He was with us to give us support throughout the rest of his life till 2010.
I fondly remember his long umbrella, which he used as his walking stick, his offwhite shirt and mundu, and of course his pen. He was a self-disciplined man. His daily routine never changed. He used to get up by 5:30 AM, read the paper, take bath, breakfast by 9, walk to meet his friends for 1 hour, return to have a lemonade, Lunch by 2 PM, News on TV for 30 mins, siesta for 1 hour, tea by 5 PM, walk again for 1 Hour, TV from 7.30 till 8.30, Dinner by 9 PM and sleep by 10 PM. I used to study in the same room where he was sleeping and we used to have random conversations about the day before he went to sleep. His place to keep things was the drawer where he kept the World map, toolbox, and Diary. He had a childlike love for ingenuity and as someone said, “Pen was the tongue of his mind.”
A dyed in the wool optimist, he never spoke ill about anyone. I recollect those images when most of the time he would be sitting in our verandah. His love for football particularly German players was well understood as he used to cut pictures of players and keep them in his diary. Another trait I picked from him was journalling. It was something we both enjoyed together. He used to show his old journals and what he wrote when I was born in 1973 and what he wrote when he was heartbroken in 1984 (when my father passed away).
I enjoyed traveling with him in his first and last flight from our hometown to Mumbai and I recollect how we both had pav bhaji in the flight. I was happy that I could be there for his 100th and 101st birthday. I remember how I shaved his beard that morning as he was getting dressed up. He used to praise me in public and he showered faith silently. He was a man of few words when he spoke but he was eloquent in his diary. I guess he was living by this quote, ” Words running in my vein sprout out as ink of my pens“.
It was in 2009, I had come back from Italy and I got the opportunity to be with him and work from my hometown for a month. He was curious about our life in Europe and he spoke at length about his World War 2 memories.I will always cherish those memories.
In 2010 during our Onam time, something crept in my mind that I should be with him, maybe he may not be there for the next one. He passed away a few weeks later.
My grandfather taught me that, ‘ If you make it physical, you make it permanent“. That led me to write from younger days in my small notepads. My relationship with him was beyond the realms of a grandson. He was a beacon of hope, icon for discipline, and a patient human who believed that the pen is mightier than the sword. A life well lived till 101.
Today, I want to tell him, “You have left a legacy for the next generations to cherish and we are blessed. For me, your Parker pen has changed to keyboard strokes and your physical diaries have moved to digital diaries (Blogs). My Tribute to you for being my role model. On this father’s day, my gratitude to you, my dear Grandfather for being my pen friend.”