Indian families are strange. They believe in celebrating occasions grandly. From birth to death, Indians are pampered by loving family members who try to outdo their neighbours to mark a significant occasion. It all begins with bhat-khua (first intake of grain by an infant), sacred-thread ceremony (in Brahmin families only), marriage function, finally death observance. This is for just an individual’s lifetime. Include the parents/sons during the junctures too who perform their respective religious duties. Traditions like this goes a long way. In some families, it is continuing since Vedic days (i.e. 2000 B.C.).
Today, there was one such trifle function in our home. It was in loving memory of my grandfather, who died 5 years ago on 29th May, 2009. Yes, today is 3rd June and we follow the Hindu Panji for marking the festivals and important days. There was a small buffet in the morning to mark the fatal anniversary. There was puri, kheer, meetha-bhaat, dal, khatta, putol & baigan bhaja, mix-veg and sweets. It was a delicious repast. Probably the only interesting and adorable thing about the whole affair. Needless to say, there were numerous guests too, who arrived a day before to take part in this inauspicious ceremony. 2 aunts and their respective husbands accompanying them.
They inquired about my presence. My mother told ’em I aspire to become a filmmaker or rather as she said “he wants to be filmy”. They laughed on hearing the strange and unorthodox career choice; I smiled in reply. The thing is in my family circle, like all normal Indian families, it’s really hard to see anyone not concerned about monetary aspects. If you’re doing anything that doesn’t involve a stable remuneration, it’s worthless. And such unworthy people should be described as morons.
I remember when my grandpa died, I never cried. I remember getting angry over myself for not shedding a drop of tear to commemorate the passing away of the person with whom I shared so many hours talking, helping, learning. I was the one sitting beside him holding his frail arms just before his dead body was burned away. I saw other men moving around burial site chatting and the Pandit came and told me it’s a good sign the dead in the grip of his/her grandchild. I didn’t see any meaning in his words. My grandfather had seized to exist. He didn’t dwell in our world of existence anymore. He went on to the other world where he is no more concerned about our worldly matters like children, grandchildren, money, success and so on.
I am always reminded of the fact how my grandfather was born in a rural village in some hitherto place in Western Odisha. How he came to Brajrajnagar, then fondly called “Chotte Calcutta” (for it’s industrial, urban society). How he became the close confidant of O.P.M‘s owners and executives. He was a people’s person who loved being with family, relatives, friends enjoying their companionship. He and my grandma (who is still alive, healthy, living with my parents) produced 10 children, 8 of which were girls. He was able to married each of the 8 to well-known, reputed Brahmin families scattered all over Western Odisha and his two sons went on to be fairly respected, smart individuals. And here I am, his descendant recalling him during the most difficult time of my life (as of yet) missing his wise advice and inspirational talks. And I’m not crying.