You sat on the little bed next to me and said, “Appachan was a great man right?”
Appachan is Malayalam for grandfather. That is a fact. Great, as in above average? An above average human? Wrong.
He was not a great man. He was very human, and that’s what I loved about him. He was flawed and overconfident.
He was astute and witty. He was less racist than his kids but extremely judgmental.
His age didn’t make him resistant to change and his wife’s death didn’t stop him from joking about finding a new bae.
He loved her and he loved life. He loved the fact that he had three daughters at a time, when society saw women as a burden.
Appachan was about balance. He used to gamble with his friends and help build churches in Chennai, Faridabad and Delhi.
He was religious but never imposed religion on me.
He never said he loved me. But he would coo about how I was his only granddaughter.
Banter was how we showed affection. He’d rub my back when I was in pain and pull my toes to make them crack, because he knew I hated it.
He was a rascal, and an inspiration.
Appachan was not above average, he was just right. He is what I seek for in myself.
To always grow, and be the best version of me.
He died the best version of himself at 92, incomparable to any other human but himself.
Now, he didn’t pass away, he died. I know it may be hard for you to say.
I know you believe that he won’t move on to the next stage of his existence till the 40th day of his death,
but regardless of what you believe in he’s not here anymore.
Death is a fact, a reality and for him, it seemed to be a reason to live life more fully.
He did not live life to be put on a pedestal, so please, don’t.
The funeral brought closure to most of my family.
I say most because some could not make it. And for some of us, the funeral did not quite cut it.
I saw his body lying there for so long, deceiving my eyes. He looked like he was asleep.
I saw them touch his hands, rub his hair, kiss him and cry over him.
I saw them stuff his stiff fingers into gloves and constantly tidy up his clothes.
And I saw them pray for hours on end.
Finally, I saw the stress drift out from their eyes and smiles return to their lips.
They lowered his coffin into a crypt and dropped mud over it, one by one. And the hours passed, one by one, and it was a new day….for them.
For me, it still feels like that over-cast morning, when I got that call. But the world outside has moved on.
I have joked and laughed, ate, walked, slept and taken many shits. I have showered, kissed and hugged and tested negative for Covid.
I have cried. But it still feels like that same over-cast morning.
I won’t wish it away, I’ll leave the door open, and let it walk away when it is ready to.
Appachan, you handsome little devil, you’ll always be with me.
- Anushka Abraham -