Thursday, February 04, 2010


There is a portrait of my father that I drew when I was 17. It was night time, and he was sitting in the drawing room of our old home. His feet would have been on a stool. His head inclined, looking down upon a business magazine. The TV was playing a news channel. He was absorbed in what he was reading. I had drawn him lost in his book. I had drawn him in charcoal. I was probably sitting on the floor and so the portrait is from a strange angle. He looked like he didn't want to be disturbed. Though I am sure after the drawing I would have shown it to him and he would have had an encouraging smile. When my father wasn't absorbed in work, he was a collector of beautiful things. Of sculptures, paintings, strange looking furniture, wall hangings and all sorts of things you would use to fill open spaces in a showcase, cupboard, or on the floor and the walls in our room. I had once painted some deer on his bedroom wall in Mumbai. Sometimes in the darkness, the headlights of a distant car would flash upon the deer, and they would run frightened. We left that place and he was sad we couldn't take the deer with us. He was very volatile, a strange chemical that would react differently and often unpredictably under different circumstance. Sometimes he'd be full of good humor and say something so witty that we'd be laughing uncontrollably. At other times he'd be exploding in a fit of anger and turning everything around him into vapor. He had inherited that temper from my grandfather and has duly left it behind for me.

My grandfather with his frizzled white hair might have been sitting shirtless, with his thick, foggy glasses scribbling his finances religiously on a piece of paper while listening to my grandmother who would have been pacing up and down the drawing room. My mom would have been at the kitchen. Victor would have been under the bed where he liked to rest, so that I won't bother him constantly. My grandfather was a meticulous man, who started a pauper but left my grandmother a house with betelnut trees that swayed agitatedly in monsoon, and my father his values and a strange sort of pugnacity to fight off the bureaucracy that seemed to follow him like a shadow. He left me an aspiration.

In my grandfather's bedroom is the portrait of a man I have never met, neither have my father and my grandfather. He is my great grandfather - my grandfather was a posthumous child. They say he died of cholera and that he loved music.


Vasu said...

I miss Uncle. I keep regretting that I never did sing for him.

azure said...

It's frightening how loved ones leave and the memories seem to fade one by one.. Reminds me of Auden's "Stop All The Clocks"..