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Iron Man

Shehnaz Gujral
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Iron Man

Some memories, some numbers, some relations never fade. I was always fascinated with the year 1900 because my Grandfather was born in that year. Darji, we called him as In Sikh families, we call father or Grandfather Darji.

A retired Police officer during Pre-independence period & an Advocate by profession .His Black & White Portrait of a young man in Uniform with Ribbons & badges would always amaze me as my Darji was an old wrinkled lean man with flowing white beard. I could never understand that how age ages a person.

A store house of knowledge, he introduced the world of Shakespeare to me. It would be mesmerizing to hear his explanations of ‘Much Ado about Nothing.’ In his late 80s, he would help my sister and me with our School Homework. Once, when he went to stay with my uncle, our mode of communication was live via exchanging letters. I would write a letter and in the return mail, I would get my letter edited with crosses and circles. A seventh-grade girl would get offended to get such edited letters. But now I feel what that his method of teaching was the most effective.

The Epidemic of Plague in India in the year 1905 had taken the life of his mother. Though he was a small child of 5 at that time, yet he remembered the pain of parting from his mother. He was the witness of 1918 Panademic flu. Recollecting his painful memories of the flu, which had taken the lives of his close relative, was the dreariest memories . I could hardly understand the gravity of pain. Never had I realized that we too would witness such a panademic. These stories about life, suffering, pain and happiness were endless. Nostalgiac he would get, thinking of life during pre -independence times in Pakistan. Being a police officer, he was actively involved bringing back the people safely from Pakistan during partition time. Recalling the painful partition and division of a country into two, he would get agitated but soon would get pacified. A progressive man, he would encourage us to read more and more. He used to make a folder of NEWS clips, puzzles, riddles & word search for us. He would often talk about equality in gender. Such accounts would be very monotonous to listen to. Never had I realized that these monotonous conversations would make me feel proud one day.

He was a widower with hardly any social life. Still I could always see a bleak of optimism in him.He would wait for month end to get pension and would call us and give us the pocket money. That day would be a treat for us. I would cycle to the local baker and get his favourite bakery biscuits and cakes. Evening tea with a game of cards or carom was the best entertainment for three of us, Darji, Shelley and I. A very self-sufficient person, he would do gardening even at 89.With Green fingers, his kitchen garden had a variety of fruits ranging from Grapes , Papaya, Berries, Apple Custard, Litchis , Grape Fruit to Aloevera. After he left, there have been just traces of these plants and trees. Aloe Vera massages to relieve his knee pain, Sun bathing to get Vitamin D, regular exercises were a part of his day to day life which was seldom appreciated. Now that he isn’t with us, I wonder what all I could have learnt from him.

I was 11 years old when he slipped and had multiple fractures .Bed ridden and sufferings didn’t last for much time. In this one month of pain and misery, I saw different temperament of my Darji. He was almost irritated and had lost temper and patience. A self-sufficient, active person, in a helpless state was killing him.

Slowly he started loosing control of his mind and body.

On an inauspicious afternoon, he wasn’t responding well. Doctor visited our place and soon there started a series of rituals and visitors at our place. I knew he was no more with us. The grief of loss was slow.It took sometime for me to understand that he is no more. The pain of loosing the super hero of our family is still fresh after 30 years.

An English teacher with an experience of twenty plus years. She is based in Kuwait for the past fifteen years.
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