Thathayya – a letter to my Grandfather

For as long as I can remember, you were always by my side.
A little baby girl being picked up when she cried.

A strong little toddler had you running behind her on her bike,
A proud grandfather watched over as she sang her heart out into the mic.

When my big girl bed felt too scary to sleep in,
A place between Amamma and Thathayya was always soothing.

Every school evening meant Thathayya would take us out on his scooter,
Getting DilKush and chicken puffs together is a memory that couldn’t have been cuter.

All the books I’ve read, yet stories of your childhood and college days are my favourite,
I’m glad I listened intently during story time and I really did savour it.

Summer Holidays meant you would take us to the zoo in your Maruti Suzuki car,
and let us sit in the open trunk, feet dangling, and showed us where all the animals are.

Every trophy I got home, you’d display it above the TV with so much pride.
You’d tell everyone how talented your granddaughter is, pushing comments on my tan aside.

While the whole world hated the lockdown, I cherish those times to an unbelievable amount,
Because I got to spend so much time with you, reliving all those stories and memories I can’t count.

You watched a little girl grow into a strong woman, seizing every day.
I had you as my role model, I wouldn’t have turned out any other way.

But what I will never forget is the last time I saw you waving good-bye to me by the door,
And I remember me waving back saying Good-bye, thinking “for now, not for evermore”.

And then came the heart-shattering call from home, that I wish no one ever gets,
And we had to say our final goodbyes while the whole reality of it actually sets.

Now with every grandfather I speak to, I see a little bit of you in them.
Does that mean that you’re really sticking by my side for as long as you can?

For every tiny achievement and happy moment, there is a warm surge in me,
I’d like to think that’s you saying I deserve to be the happiest I can be.

Every time I sing randomly at home, I picture you listening on, your heart content.
Every tough time I go through, I imagine you pushing me on, giving me strength.

What really is demise if memories of you are so alive and fresh?
What truly is presence if not in the heart, and not necessarily in flesh.

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