Last night was one of those dreaded ones that you can not forget in a hurry. My mother called at around 2000 hrs and broke the news of my maternal Grandpa’s passing away. It was a rude shock – although I knew it well that he had just suffered his third cardiac arrest and the doctors were not too optimistic of his full recovery – as having known him for all these growing up years as a stout (retired) Navy officer, it was hard to believe that he of all people could ever lose a battle.
He had the most endearing and simplest of the personalities that a man can have and was a proud soldier having immense faith in the future of India. He always inspired us to take up a career with any of the three wings (Army, Navy and Air Force) by joining NDA or other academies post undergrad studies. I was so smitten by his white Navy uniform and the stories of war-time heroics & travails that I indeed gave NDA/NA 4 attempts and IMA 3 (everytime getting rejected at the SSB/AFSB level,) before being forced into realizing that I’m not cut out for a job in uniform.
He always used to say that you have to be very proud of your roots and follow your principles (especially in adversity) in order to be a successful man in your own eyes, money can only provide the success that’s invisible when you stand in front of a mirror.
My mother’s narrations of the events at INS Hamla and NavyNagar at Colaba, or when INS Khukhri was sunk in the Indo-Pak war, told a lot about the way he carried himself as a proud soldier and a gentleman. Always an inspiration, he chose to settle down in his native village post retirement and remained there till he breathed his last. He never faced the ‘I do not belong with these civilians’ problem, and that for me is a big and difficult adjustment he made successfully.
I was not able to go there and sit beside him (I promised a visit when we talked last time) during his last days would rankle for a long time to come. I wish he forgives me for this, for this is the only word his eldest grandson could not keep. I’ll so miss you Nanaji.