“In a nutshell, I had posts coming to me all the time, and once when I was opening my letter box, I commented to Mom who was on the phone, “there are only bills and such in my post box these days.” She noted this carefully too.”
“One thing I couldn’t help but notice about this trip was how each day was better than or as great as the previous. Each new place we visited stole a little bit of our hearts. In its own way.”
“While I seethe in my self embarrassment, I hear the grandma in front of me mutter, ‘rechts, uitstappen rechts,’ which means, ‘right, exit is on the right.’ I smile to myself, am not alone in my stupidity.”
A couple of days ago, as I lay sleepless at an insane hour, I went on the routine journey: down the memory lane. This time however, I was surprised to find a discipline of sorts to the imagery that my mind conjured. They were all roads. From different periods in my life. Not the kinds that Robert Frost took in his poetry, the ones less travelled. Although, coming to think about it, I did pick one like that for life. But these were real, physical roads. That scorched under the summer’s sun, or allowed the flowers of Gulmohar, fallen under the might of the sudden sprightly shower to stick to their glistening bosom. Those that had holes here and there, groomed to become the urn of water for thirsty birds occasionally. Those, whose tarring finished unevenly along the two edges, like the Nutella-cream that forever fails to reach the crust of my bread. Some that never got the taste of tar, throughout my childhood days, and when finally did get the long-overdue coating under the Pradhan Mantri’s Gram Sadak Yojana (Prime Minister’s Rural Road Scheme), became the talk of the town, and some of the most important happenings in my quiet childhood.
So, roads, that were etched in my memory, beckoned to me, to walk upon them, once more, all over again.
My grandfather’s name is C.K.Prabhakaran Adiyodi. C.K.P Adiyodi. Yes, I have begun the way a second grade kid would begin an essay on the topic, ‘My Grandpa’. Allow me to stick on to that particular cliché, one teeming with innocence. Because I am not going to tell a sophisticated story anyway. I am going to talk about a simple man, who leads a simple life; who once traveled extensively through South India as part of his job; who continues to work on other projects, unable to pause an active mind from pounding on; who receives earfuls of chiding from his wife on a daily basis. And who, makes it his utmost priority to warn others about the slightest danger lurking along the tenth corner from now, while himself, remaininig utterly deaf to any suggestion or cajoling.
Born in the year 1935, Achaachan has, without doubt, witnessed waves of changes lash every wake of life; societal norms, people and their attitudes, places, relationships. I am awestruck when I wonder about the wealth of knowledge and experience he would have gathered in a lifetime in this world. I also, sometimes, wonder if there are any stones he has left unturned. One thing I can say for certain, he has traveled to his heart’s content, and would never say ‘No’ to going someplace, any place. I also know for certain that a piece of his heart still lies in Madras, where he spent the better part of his life. That is why, as recently as last month, I observed his ears sharpen at the mention of Chennai, with some reference to my sister, and wanted to know entire details of the context.
Achaachan loves to talk. And he has plenty of interesting incidents and insights to share with the world. I must admit that, so far, as a restless young adult, I have been an impatient listener to his stories. But recently, I learnt a valuable lesson from Mitch Albom’s ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’; about the importance of paying complete attention to your loved ones as they express themselves. There is no question about love here; I grew up with my grandparents in our ancestral home, they were my primary caregivers. The only thing lacking thus far was the hitherto mentioned capacity for attention to conversations about life and a time I could not relate to. Today, there is love and something more that has grown with time-an ability to prioritize that precious quota of attention on what matters, really.
My job may be poles apart from them, but words remain to date, my most cherished companions. Reading and writing, have always given me a certain quitude. I wanted to write. If possible, on a regular basis. And I wanted to learn and catalog all of Achaachan’s stories. And thus, I settled down to combine the two tasks. And fill this blog, with tales from my Grandfather’s journey in life.