Which may, given the circumstances, be almost taken as a ghastly attempt at a fairly morbid joke. Then again, I didn't think very highly of my great-uncle who died last week, and I don't feel hypocritical enough to cover it up now that he is dead. Actually, that was one of the issues I have been struggling with these last few days.
My father and later my mother have always been very close to him and his wife. Mostly his wife, but my father looked up to his uncle a lot too. But this same man said very nasty things about my brother and I, when we were both very vulnerable, and the smut has not been forgotten. I don't think I ever shall forget, because both times it set off a chain of incidents which completely altered the relationship my brother and I had with the rest of our extended family. We were both young when we left Cal, and we had what I suppose was an idealised picture of our relatives, as ever-loving and understanding. I don't blame my great-uncle for the behaviour of my relatives, but I will never be able to understand how a man who prided himself on his morals could cast dirt on a granddaughter.
That had a longer fallout than anybody had expected. I stopped visiting that house much. Considering it was a place where I had spent a good part of my youth and also that it housed a lot of my favourite relatives (Cousin T and her parents, my great-aunt), that was a difficult exile, even if self-imposed. A less evident consequence was that I stopped touching my elders' feet. I could not bring myself to show him that act of respect and since he was the eldest in our family (his wife is the seniormost, going by blood, but obviously, he would be her elder) that pretty much meant I stopped doing pranam for everybody. It stood out but I refused to compromise on this. Most people attributed it to my bad upbringing and left it at that. Last week, when he died, I finally made my peace with him and touched his cold feet in a final gesture of respect. It unburdened my heart.
I will not pretend I loved him nor will I try to find good things to say about him. And I will not deny all the good he has done to other people. He is gone and I have ended my grudge. Nor is it necessary to feign sadness, because I am truly grieved for my great-aunt. Whatever I may think of him as a dadu, he was a very caring husband, and she feels the loss so keenly.
My father flew down for a day. Since The Bhablet had met him only a fortnight before that, at Hyd, he recognised my father for the first time, and joyfully jumped into his arms. I cannot describe my father's face, but I hope he never forgets it either. He always makes a big fuss over this much-awaited grandchild -- I have been receiving speculative looks for years, and I believe that thought was what reconciled him to my marriage in the end -- but this time they were both enjoying each other's company. The Bhablet missed him and Dimma (my mother) when we returned from Hyd. He kept looking for them. I hate how that kid keeps breaking my heart, just by a look or a plaintive "dadadada".
While on the subject, The Bhablet will be a year old come next Tuesday. This has been preying on my mind all month. I find myself clinging on to him, forcing cuddles he does not want, smacking down kisses that annoy him. I am losing my baby here. Anybody want to trade him in for a younger model? I'm open to exchanges and have great baby boy clothes.