Whenever other kids talked about their grandfathers, I realized all the more that I didn't know what it meant to have a grandfather. My father's father died when my father was a 40-day old infant. My mother's father suddenly died of a heart attack when I was barely four years old.
Of course, as kids we grow up in the context that we are in; often we don't know any better. I think that growing up without a grandfather also was an early lesson for me that people die, and I became more accepting of death.
But, still, it would have been a richer life if at least one grandfather had been around.
My mother and her sisters have nothing but the fondest memories of their father. In fact, nobody in the extended family had even one small thing to complain about him. Even my cantankerous grand-uncle, who delighted in making fun of others, spoke highly of this grandfather. My grandmother was so devoted to him that she died on the anniversary of his death--separated by three decades.
The older my father got, the more he talked about how maybe he should have found out more about his father from grandfather's relatives and college-mates. But, in the old culture, they preferred not to talk about tragedies like my grandfather's death when he was only a few years into his twenties. Even if father had attempted to engage in such conversations, I am sure he would have been quickly rebuffed.
A couple of years ago, father commented that perhaps his long life, and the long life that his brother had, was the cosmos compensating them for grandfather's brief existence on this planet. Who knows; our comings and goings continue to be a mystery.
I called up my father to wish him. "Sunday is Father's Day here in America," I told him.
Father's Day and Mother's Day are alien to the old culture, which always has conveyed to children that parents are more important than even the gods."அன்னையும் பிதாவும் முன்னறி தெய்வம்" we learnt in elementary school.
"Yes, even here they have started with all these Father's Day and Mother's Day," he said.
Of course, as a father, this is my day too. My daughter, who is traveling in Europe, texted me her greetings.