12 October, 2011

Baba 1922 - 2011

My Baba passed away peacefully on 29 April 2011. He was 89. He had been married for 68 years. He will be missed by his family, which includes his wife, 3 sons, 1 daughter, 12 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
He was a simple man, not a man of big words and grand plans, but a man of simple thoughts and careful action. He was born in Mastichak (Saran dist, Bihar). After he got married and had a daughter, he moved to Chapra, a town which is close by. He left Mastichak because he wanted to ensure the his daughter got a good education. He had four more kids - he was able to educate them well. In Chapra, he built a house. His sons and younger daughter were married off from that house. He retired as deputy Postmaster, Chapra.
He was a man of habit and was a very punctual person. He was straightforward in his dealings. He wanted everyone to keep in touch with him through letters.  He used to write letters full of instructions, questions and news to his family, including me. In his letters to me, he would admonish me for not writing to him, fill me up on news from the entire family and ask me to write back to him quickly. Reading his letters also meant turning the blue piece of paper around a few times, as he would write on all possible surfaces of the letter if he needed to. With his letters, he was able to keep himself informed about his family, which were present far and wide - California, New York, South Carolina, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Darbhanga. This was just his direct family - I am sure he had a good idea about a lot of cousins and acquaintances which do not make the list above. 
When he used to come to Delhi, he used to take a bus and go to Chandi Chowk. This he did till he was about 76-77 years of age. He would have a list of things to get for Chapra but would also ask my mother if she needed anything.
He was a dedicated husband, to the point of being irritating to my grandmother. He would take constant care of her - constant really means constant. He would give her her medicines 4 times a day, check on her food and make sure she eats enough vegetables and fruits every day.
He was an amateur homeopath and read up books and kept medicines. I used to pretend to fall down and would promptly get Arnica 100 from him. He also always kept a Hajmola bottle and gave me 2 tablets (never more) every time I asked for it.
As he grew older, he became more careful about his health and that of his wife. He never ate any food which had not been freshly prepared. He would feel very cold and wrap himself up in a bundle of warm clothes at about 20degrees centigrade. On being asked why, he would remind us of his age.
He used to like eating meat (chicken, fish, mutton) but turned vegetarian a few years ago. When he was young, he used to cook his meat himself as his wife was vegetarian and would not cook meat for him.
I had not realised that I would miss him the way I do sometimes. I wish I had spent more time with him when I had the opportunity.

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