I stare out into the sky changing colours as it prepares to bid adieu to the brightest star in the universe.
I’ve never written a poem for my grandfather.
I can now only write one about him.
He wasn’t the world’s best grandfather, but he was certainly good enough for me.
‘Ajoba’ translates to ‘grandfather’ in my mother tongue.
‘Ajoba’ translated to love, and more love.
A love that only knows giving, and generosity, respect and affection.
Ajoba loved life. I don’t know whether life loved him back equally.
Self-made, self-taught, he led through principles that never faltered, nor buckled under trying times.
He taught me to be, before all else, a good human being.
He laughed at my mistakes and encouraged me to fail ever so often.
“If you never fail, you will never learn.”
He encouraged my untidy scrawl that blossomed into words strung into a poem.
He didn’t take me shopping; he gifted me a piggy bank.
He chaperoned me while I fed ducks at the man-made lake. He tried sitting in the boat, and fell right into the lake. Although red-faced, he was gracious about it.
He brought me home-made soup while I struggled to breathe at the hospital.
He organised weekend getaways to botanical gardens, a childhood highlight.
Ajoba let me use his phone to play games.
He scolded me when I accidentally broke his watch, then brought me a pastry the next day.
With Ajoba, I never wanted for anything. Ajoba was the richest in heart, spirit and soul.
We both grew older. Our love for learning, however didn’t.
He still asked me as many questions, a different kind now.
He still called me a dozen nicknames, and made light of my insecurities.
He felt morose about me moving away, and didn’t smile as much.
But he never discouraged me.
I recall our last conversation a month before my birthday, his old and strong voice pleadingly joking about why I didn’t call him more often.
“Have you forgotten me?” “Am I not funny anymore?”, he’d joked.
Guilt rang in my ears and I swatted at it.
Polite laughter. I did not promise to call again.
Ajoba loved life, and loved me even more.
I wonder what he thinks as he watches me navigate the game he played so well.
I see him smiling broadly. His smiles were always genuine and heartfelt.
I hear his familiar voice calling to me.
I smell his soap and talcum powder.
I feel his hands bless me ever so often.
I miss him, and rejoice at the values he passed down to me.
I stare out at the sky, now a dazzling palette of colours.
We don’t bid goodbye to those who stay in our heart.
©Devika Pandit 2020