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Personal Writing

End of an Era

My maternal grandfather Sri R.V.V. Rajan left Bhoolokam (our planet) this week. Significantly, he had turned 100 last year and we believed he was going strong. His Acharyan had predicted many decades ago that he would live to be a centenarian. It was quite prescient. 

I loved my Thatha (aka Sithi). He was a fun person to have a conversation with and to just hang out. 

A conversation matters and sticks with you when the other person is genuinely interested in what you have to say. My grandfather had mastered the art of showing such genuine interest. It came to him naturally. He would ask me about other people. He would ask other people about me and my family. I think it was his way of getting a 360 view. 

He experienced the Indian Freedom movement as a youth.He participated with zest in electrification schemes in rural Tamil Nadu. That work took him to various locations. He would recollect his work at Tamil Nadu Electricity Board with fondness and pride. 

His family owned classy cars and he came to see my grandmother with style in one of those cars for the pre-engagement meetup.

He was a good looking and active man. During most of my middle and high school days, he would bike 3-4 kms daily to visit his eldest daughter (my mom) and bring vegetables from the market. I would steal his bike to take “jolly” rounds around the neighborhood. Initially protective, he gave up on locking the bike.

The challenges of raising a family of seven children didn’t seem to faze him. He went about his life tactically, enjoying the daily rhythm of life. The daily requirements of our sampradaya kept him active and engaged. 

Innately curious, he developed a great memory to people and places. Relationships between people was his strong point. He nurtured and built his own social graph and used that to power his interest and empathy. In a gathering, he was the natural ice breaker.

He visited the United States once and was in admiration of this country. When I landed in New York, he was there and I got to spend a week with him. That was such a pleasant experience. 

In later years, he didn’t let his physical discomforts suppress his positive outlook and continuous engagement. He accepted being taken care of by a non family member.

As I reflect, the change in the last 100 years in this world is mind boggling. As I hold my grandfather’s ever present smile, some human qualities are forever comforting. 

Thank you for everything Sithi.