Life in Queens (the Most Diverse Borough of the Most Diverse City in the World)

My Personal Tribute to Dada

Every Sunday morning for the past 16 years, I woke up to the sound of my parents talking on the phone with joyful voices. On the other end of the line were my grandparents back in India. Even though I was only two years old when I left my birthplace in Gandhinagar, my dad made sure that I would have a great relationship with my grandparents. Every couple of years, I would pack my bags and get ready to spend my summer vacation in the house my dad was brought up in. My grandmother would wake me up and ask, “Have you had your bournvita yet?” I would be forced to drink milk that had come out of a buffalo and would always oppose this, asking for cows’ milk instead.

Two years ago, I woke up to the voice of my sister saying that my Grandmother, my Baa, had passed away. I didn’t believe what she said. The first thought that had come across my mind was, “I will never be asked if I’ve drank my milk yet”. Through the funeral and religious services that were held in my house for her, I was in a blur. I didn’t truly realize she was gone until last summer. I went to visit my Grandfather, my Dada, in our hometown. He seemed to be doing well, but anyone could tell that he was lonely. Nevertheless, he kept a smile on his face and joked with me about my Baa’s spirit being around to be with me. Now, he is with her as well. This morning, I lost the most influential person that I have ever known. My Dada was the smartest, most interesting man that you would ever meet. With seven children, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, my grandfather was loved and looked up to by so many people. I do believe that I had a special bond with him, because of our shared love for books. Both of us had identical Kindle e-readers, and every time I spoke to him, he would thank me for setting him up with his favorite books. He would say that every time he read from it, he thought of me. We also had a shared passion for science, and he was always willing to the movement of technology, despite what other people his age thought. He never once pushed me towards a career that I did not want to pursue, namely, medicine. Although many of the others in my family said that it was best to be a doctor, he would tell me, “Do whatever makes you happy”. He always said that I would be a great professor, and that I am capable of doing whatever I tried to do. Several times in the past month, he said that he was looking forward to seeing me win a Nobel prize from up in the heavens. Most people would think that being said something like that gave them a lot of pressure, but for me, it was simply a sign that my Dada believed in me.

Dada also loved philosophy. He was a man of many interests. Time after time, he would tell me to read books by J. Krishnamurti, his favorite philosopher. I actually never found to time to between my classes and work. I now deeply regret that I will never get to discuss with him the ideas that he loved so much. Even so, the talks we had on Socrates and Plato (and his ridiculing them, calling them “old fashioned” and “outdated”) are so precious to me, and will always be remembered.

More than anyone, I owe thanks to Dada for allowing me to become the person that I am today. I couldn’t have gotten into college, or received the scholarship that I did, without the help of Dada. He always looked over my writing, even though he was several oceans away. He would correct them, and tell me that I kept him preoccupied. At the same time, I knew that him having these papers of mine to look at made him feel closer to me, as I did to him. His corrections and guidance helped me being a better writer, which is one of the reasons that I am writing on this blog today.

Dada donated his eyes. He was always thinking of others, and even at the end, he helped someone to see. This way, his eyes will continue to see the world.

I can sit here and blame the hospital my Dada was in, and say that he wasn’t taken care of properly. I can always see the bright side- that he and my grandmother are back together. I can be thankful that he is no longer in pain. I can promise to always think of him, and love him unconditionally- because that was what he gave me.

Maybe I haven’t yet realized that my loving, inspirational, amazing Dada is no longer in this world. Maybe it will take me a visit to my old Gandhinagar home to realize this. Nevertheless, I will be confused and sad tomorrow morning, when I won’t get to hear my Dada’s voice on the phone. I know that there were some times that I was a bit tired, or not in the mood to have a conversation with him. Although he knew that, our relationship never wavered. Now, I wish that all those times, I had taken the two minutes to chat with him, considering I will never have that chance again. Through this all, I have realized that even though Dada lived a wonderful 90 years, I will always wish that he was here longer. He and Baa are now together, and I hope that everything that he accomplished in life will be forever remembered. A man of such greatness, intelligence and caliber, should definitely always be remembered. He will remain in my heart, my thoughts, and my actions forever. Rest in peace Dada and Baa, and one day, I hope that you will see what I’ve come to become and be very proud.

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