Friday, July 23, 2010


On the 3rd of July, at around 5: 30 in the evening, Grandpa breathed his last. He was 74 years old.

It was weekend and mummy and daddy had gone out shopping. Daddy was looking for guitar strings when mummy received that call that changed so many things…

That faithful evening, when Mummy came back home rather upset, we couldn’t really understand why. She was feeling very, very low, we could sense that but couldn’t guess why. Had we done something wrong?
Buddy tried to ask her, his ears folded back, his eyes doleful and his tail tucked in low under his legs. But she hugged us and cried into us. We tried our best to cheer her up, climbed up and tried to fit into her lap and licked the tears off her face. It probably helped a little, coz she did stop crying.

Then she told us. Grandpa was dead. He had died,still talking about what he would like for dinner that evening, of a sudden stroke. It was simply very difficult for Mummy to believe or realise.
Grandpa lived some 3000 kilometres away from where we stay. It would take Mummy at least 12 hours to reach as there were no direct flights and layovers etc would simply take that much time.
And then, there were the ceremonies thereafter. The long drawn, religious rituals that followed the death of any Hindu person. Which meant Mummy would be gone for many days at a stretch.
It was difficult for us to understand what was happening that evening. It was a kind of gloomy confusion. Mummy began packing whatever she could think of and the very sight of the bags made us dread the days ahead. We know by now that the bags meant someone was going away.

It was very difficult for Mummy. She wanted to get to Grandpa’s place as soon as possible and at the same time, wasn’t ready to go without Daddy and Us.
Having Daddy around at a time like this would be a real support.
But there was the question of ‘Us’.
Mummy couldn’t think of leaving us someplace else apart from home. And it was not as much because she was worried about our not being taken care of well, as much as it was because she knew we would be terrified with Mummy and Daddy gone for so many days. She knows we would be worried sick.
Buddy has only just learned not to run to the door each time a car like the one his previous family had, crossed by. Mummy couldn't bear to let him get displaced again. And I, of course, wouldn’t touch my food without Mummy or Daddy telling me to eat.
Mummy would never be at peace leaving us some place without her or Daddy around.
But then, we couldn’t possibly fly all the way. Not only would the whole process of getting us crates etc take time, the flight changes, layovers and long flying times all would be too useless a strain for us. Besides, adjusting to a houseful of mourning relatives would prove to be difficult.
The only solution was for us to stay back home with Daddy to look after us. And then, after a few days, Mummy planned to come back so Daddy could go visit our Grandma.
So, early morning, we all went and bid Mummy goodbye. She flew away and disappeared for never-ending days. We would sometimes hear her voice coming out of the telephone. We tried licking the receiver, but it never tasted or smelt like her though it sounded like her.
On many occasions we thought we heard her at the gate. We would hopefully go check but she never came till one day, when we had almost given up hope.
But then it was time for Daddy to go. he flew off the very next day and disappeared for days just like Mummy had done.
Those were very upsetting days. And we could sense a kind of gloom all around Mummy. We tried to be on our best behaviour. We not only ate our food without fuss but also tried not to pull on the leash on our walks. Buddy even ignored the occasional stray!
All of us were just waiting for Daddy to get back home, when we felt, everything would be normal again.
We think, it is better we let mummy take over from here and tell you the later part of story. We have named it ‘Nostalgia’.

Dear Furiends,
It has been a blessing to have you all in our lives. I have always felt very thankful to have made so many friends, many living in far off lands, across thousands of miles, who have embraced my darling babies and loved them so well.
Even though I have my own little space in the blogosphere, I somehow felt it right to share my grief with you here, in Ginger and Buddy’s space.
Somehow, I feel our furry friends and their pawrents are more alive, more receptive of joy, sadness, grief, acceptance and any other emotion for that matter.
Many of you have been worried for us, many have sent us words of support. I would like you to know that your thoughts have been a great help. Thank you very much.  
Somehow, Ginger and Buddy, with their liquid eyes, their comical antics, their ready hugs and licks and the incessant wag in their tails have been my great strength. During the last few days, they have reinforced my belief that Dogs indeed can make EVERYTHING right.

Papa was a very quiet, very silent person. Now that I think back, I had never heard him raise his voice! All those who knew him, including my friends from college, still remember him as a very unassuming man. He lived without malice, without greed and with a lot of honesty and simplicity.

For his entire working life, Papa lived in Arunachal Pradesh, the north-eastern most state of India which shares it’s boundary with China. I was born there and cherish my childhood days in that lovely state nestled in the mighty Himalayas.

It was from Papa that I learned to love the simple indigenous tribal people. He had a way with them. The chieftains often came visiting him, to invite us to some local wedding or just to bring us some home grown vegetables and fruits.
Dressed in their regal traditional attire, complete with their rapiers, javelins and other weapons, they looked rather formidable.
But with Papa, they were at their gentlest best and even as a little girl, I learned to love and respect their simple ways.

Arunachal is a lovely paradise of wild flora and fauna.

(A peaceful abode nestled deep in the mountains)

(Driving along these narrow roads with a steep drop hundreds of feet into the raging river below is both chilling and exhilarating)

Though I haven’t travelled to as many beautiful and remote places as Papa had, I still have very fond memories of this mountain state.
It will make another story which I would like to share with you some day.

Papa had a way with languages. He could fluently speak a number of local dialects which he had easily picked up during his stay in various regions of Arunachal – Apatani, Nishi, Adi were a few tribes he interacted well with. Apart from these, he could also speak, read and write Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali and Nepali.
I seem to have inherited this knack from him, for I too seem to be able to pick up languages fairly well.
I also have his eyes, everyone tells me.

And I realise I probably have inherited this love for writing from him too. He used to compose lovely little poems but sadly, none of them were published.
I was a pampered daughter and pretty much got my way with Papa! But even then, there are certain things that I remember he tried to teach us very early on in life. Like the need to develop a good and neat handwriting; and to keep our elbows off the table while eating with a knife and fork!

It has been years now, since I left home. I was all of sixteen years when I went to stay in the hostel to pursue my studies. For me, home was soon a place I visited during summer vacations, post exam breaks and other holidays. The hostel soon became my home; I learned to grow up on my own.
Ever since the August of 1992, I have grown used to finding my parents on the other end of the phone. The initial homesick calls gradually got replaced by perfunctory reports of my life.

Papa would come visit me, frequently at first, with loads of cookies and stuff. Gradually, as I settled down I began to feel guilty of the trouble he took to change buses and travel the hilly terrain overnight to reach my hostel nearly a thousand kilometres away. And that too, for maybe just a day because he had to get back to work on Monday.
I offered to travel and meet everyone at home instead, if only for the weekend. By now, my parents had settled down halfway between Papa’s work place and my place of study, the main reason being Papa’s transferrable job which was getting in the way of my brother’s studies.
As I got busy with medical school, my visits home declined in number too. And it was mostly phone calls now.
Into my final year in medical school, my entire family decided to settle down in Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, another north-eastern state bordering Arunachal Pradesh.
Papa had retired from service by then and both I and my brother were here now.

Of course, I could have gone stayed at home again. But I retained my hostel seat. The unearthly, unpredictable hours of medical school was not the entire reason though.
I guess by now, I loved my freedom too much!
After living all by myself for over a decade, I had grown anti-social enough to ignore guests and relatives I did not like or to avoid religious functions I didn’t quite believe in.
The fortnightly visits home suited me just fine.
Soon, it was time for me to leave altogether, to find work in a new place and make a new home for myself.
It didn’t feel much different leaving home and my parents this time around than it did some 13 years back when I had gone away to stay in the hostel.
Except for the fact that this time I was with my friend and husband and coming Home, which of course, made the world of difference!
For the past 5 years, relations with my parents had been a series of phone calls and irregular visits. There were the occasional gift packs that arrived on birthdays and special festivals.
That is probably the reason why I could not really realise fully about Papa’s death when I went home now. It felt like he was away somewhere on some task.
And I could talk to him about it later on over the phone.
Even the long drawn ceremonies, the rituals felt unreal. There were hundreds of people, mourners who came everyday. Many talked of papa’s quiet ways, of how sudden and untimely his death was.
But I somehow believe death is always timely.
Each soul comes and lives for whatever time it has been destined to live on earth. It is only to us left behind that it is difficult to accept the loss of someone we loved.

For me, Papa’s death means I will never hear his voice again over the phone.
Which will take some time to accept.
I don’t know how this feeling of interminable gloom will go away.
My darling of a husband has been trying many things from cooking delicious dishes, getting me chocolate pies and even offering to take me shopping. The latter, in normal times, would literally be absurd for him! But somehow I haven’t been feeling up to it.

He has been suggesting I start writing again. And in fact, I feel much better now that I have.
Maybe this is what will snap me out of the gloom - writing again for Ginger and Buddy and getting immersed in the lives of my adorable Furry friends.


Maggie and Mitch said...

We are so very sorry to hear about your grandpa/your mom's dad. Our hearts are breaking for her! Our mom understands those precious phone calls. You have so many wonderful memories and you'll treasure the photos.

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

JD and Max said...

Oh, Buddy and Ginger - we are SO glad you are there to look after your mom at this sad time. We were so sad to hear your grandpa passed away - the cirle of life is difficult to accept sometimes, we think us doggies accept things like this far easier than humans which is one of the reasons why it's very important for us to be around humans at times like this.

Please give your mom some huge hugs and snuggles from us and tell her to take time to heal. We doubt she'll ever stop missing her dad, but good memories and happy thoughts of past experiences will help.

Big schnauzer snuggles to you all - JD and Max.

the booker man said...

miss ginger and buddy,
me and asa and mama ache for the loss of your grampy. your mummy wrote a wonderful tribute about him, and what an honor that she has picked up several of his traits. please keep taking good care of your mummy -- lots of huggles 'n cuddles -- cuz it's gonna take some time to not feel gloomy. that's totally okie dokie, too, cuz mama says it is way important not to skip the grieving process. we will be here for ya'll whether you feel like bloggin' or whether you feel like keepin' to yourselves. you will be in our thoughts, and we love ya'll bunches 'n tons!
the booker man

Maggie Mae said...

Mom and me are so sorry for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Emma Rose said...

We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Your words speak volumes about the love you had for him and the closeness you shared. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Emma Rose and the Duchess

Kari in WeHo said...

I am so very sorry for your loss

Don't forget, we are changing our blog today. Please update your reader to follow

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

We are sorry for your loss -

We had missed your blogging and now know why you were gone -

That was quite an incredible tribute your wrote for him AND for us -

It helps point out YET AGAIN the wonders of the blog world -

In one post, you shared some much of him which made you YOU -

I'm sure it helped to heal - yet I'm sure it opened more holes that will close in time but never completely -

Again, thanks so much for that -


Khyra's Mom and Khyra

little princess Luna~ said...

hi puppers and mum and dad,
mummy and i and my bully siblings and daddi are so very sorry for the loss of your and your grampy are in our thoughts and prayers.


♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

We are all so very sorry for your loss. We wondered where you were and thought maybe life was just very busy. We will hold your Mom in our thoughts and prayers for her to find peace. It is so obvious how much love she had for her Papa - we are sure he was very proud of her. Time heals a lot - please give your Mom some hugs and kisses from all of us.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara and Mom

MurphyDog said...

oh gosh...what a tremendous loss you have suffered. Mom can't even imagine losing her father, your post gave her leaking eyes and a sad heart to think of how you are feeling.

Buddy & Ginger, keep up the good work. Its our jobs to keep our Moms and Dads happy and comforted. Lots of licks, and snuggles in our fur coats can help with this.

So sorry for your loss & thank you for sharing your special bond with your Papa.

wags, wiggles & slobbers

Nelly said...

We are very sorry your Mummy lost her Daddy. Mummy says it leaves such a big hole in your life when you lose someone so close to you.
Please give her some nibbles and headrubs from us (but not too hard!)
Nelly & Finn xx

scotsmad said...

Losing a parent if never easy. You have so many wonderful memories that he will be with you always.

We're happy that your house is full of dogs (and Daddy) to give you hugs.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

Priscilla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Priscilla said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing his story with us. It sounds like he knew a lot and was a great papa to you.

The blogger world will always be there with you for comfort and healing.
I agree - death is timely.
You papa had a good life and he did loads and loads of things.

Eva sends her kisses to you.

Lola said...

We are very sorry for your loss. We were hoping that your absence was not because of anything bad happening, but unfortunately it was something very sad for you. We think the gloom and pain will go away eventually. It has to run its course, that's all. That doesn't mean you won't always miss him. It just means it won't always feel so bad. At least that's been our experience here.

The tribute you wrote about him was so beautiful and so were the photos. Any father would be proud of that.

lots of love, Lola and Blog Mom (Pat)

houndstooth said...

We are terribly sorry for your loss! What a horrible shock! We didn't know him, but he must have been a wonderful man to raise a daughter so thoughtful, well-spoken and creative! We're thinking about all of you during this hard time!

Bunny and Carrie

rottrover said...

Dear Ginger and Buddy's mum:
We are so sorry to learn of your loss. You write so beautifully. Please don't try to rush the grieving process. It takes a long time. We will keep you in our thougts daily.
Gizmo, Bart and Ruby von Weiller
Los Angeles

Chewy said...

Ginger and Buddy,

What a beatiful post. we are so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers!


Teddy Bear said...

What a beautiful post. We are so sorry to hear about Grandpa. We are praying for all of you and are sending lots of love.

Teddy Bear

Lorenza said...

I am so sorry to know about your Grandpa.
I loved your post for him.
Give your mom lots of kisses and hugs from us, please.
Take care

jabblog said...

I have been wondering and worrying about you. I am so sorry for your grief - it will become more bearable but it is the little things that take time. I used to 'save up' items of news or interest to tell my parents and that habit lasted for a long time after they were had both travelled on. There are questions unanswered, not even considered while they were alive. I know your Papa was very proud of you. He lives on through you and your brother and in the memories of his friends. Take care. Love - Janice.