I’ve been thinking about role models a lot as we mourn the loss of my grandfather, and the last of the four grandparents. I’m not sure what we did in our last life, but my sister and I really hit the jackpot on grandparents in this life. Although I was gifted a different amount of time to spend with each, they have all been exceptional role models. Today I want to share them with you...
Ajja (1920 – 1993) was a freedom fighter who left us too early. Although I met him just briefly as an infant, I’ve heard only good things. My older cousin who spent more time with him speaks fondly of his kindness. I often wonder if that’s where my passion for social justice comes from. When I’m demotivated and disheartened, I think about the stories I’ve been told about him, about the time he spent in jail during India’s freedom struggle, and about how the courage of those like him made the lives we have today possible. It gives me hope.
Chottimama (1944 – 2012), who also passed much too soon, was quite the feminist icon. Standing at just around 5 feet – although you wouldn’t know it from her exuberating persona – she filled our lives with joy and with strength. Her wit was like no other, and I definitely inherited a sarcastic streak from her. You could always find her with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. She showed us that to be a woman is to be bold, to be unapologetic, and to take up as much space as you need.
Bapama (1921 – 2017) was the pillar of the family, a true matriarch. Even though she lost her husband and a son, you wouldn’t know it from her delightful personality and her constant radiant energy. I’ve not yet met another person who had such a twinkle in their eye, even in her late 90s! Of all the things she bestowed upon her three granddaughters, I would say having grace is probably the most important one. She moved through the world with a quiet unassuming grace. We can only aspire to that.
Pappa (1936 – 2021) was everything that you would want in a grandfather wrapped up in a thick beard and the smell of Brylcreem hair gel. As kids he entertained me with board games, the only bedtime story he knew (Androcles and the Lion) and took me on “granddaughter-grandfather” dates where he would have a beer and I would have a Canada Dry (served in a beer glass, of course). Born too early to be a tech bro, he picked up computer skills post-retirement and was the only grandfather I know who was on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! He reminded us that age really is just a number.
Although they are gone now, I’m reminded of the precedent they set. To be resilient, to be kind, to be open to new opportunities, to be accepting, and to be ourselves.
Always, to be ourselves.
I use this space to share my thoughts on a variety of academic and non-academic topics! Happy reading!