This is a story of my grandfather, who passed away last week, leaving behind a legacy of grit, determination, honesty, and love.
It is not an easy task being a parent in the millennium. Imagine being a single parent in the 1930s. In the 30s, a brave young widow moved to a large city, with 2 young kids to feed. My great grandmother had lost her husband at an early age. My Grandfather was an infant and he had an elder sister, who was also a kid when they lost their father. With no male support, my great grandmother moved to Madurai with her two kids. Our community is a small, but a wider community and the great-grandfather who passed away, had written a will naming my grandfather as its heir, but only after he turns major and until then everything would be taken care by the relatives.
A lonely young woman, with 2 little mouths to feed and she has to be dependant on relatives to support their lives. But this lady had a strong determination and willpower. She faced all odds and made sure that she brought up 2 fine citizens. Never did she loose focus and she had faith in God and her kids.
With no father to look up to, my grandfather must have faced an endless array of paths. I can imagine myself, being lost in the wild with every path leading somewhere, but not being sure where. But this kid was different. His eyes were radiating brilliance and always on a lookout to learn new things. Now “Learn new things”, is the keyword of his story. He never ceased to learn. He never let go of any opportunity to learn. He became a voracious reader. By the time he became a teenager, he was proficient in Tamil, English, and Hindi. His mother supported him in all his reading needs, but nothing was enough for this young mind. He was in search of books, newsletters, newspapers, articles, everything that was printed. He was fascinated by the world of books. He went on to author a few books on his own, but the first book he authored and published was handwritten to multiple copies by himself. Such is his devotion to books.
This kid’s voracious reading habit was put to test when he joined the American College in its first batch of Bachelor of Commerce degree. But academics were blown away by this kid and he came out with flying colors. A Gold Medal as he passes out of his class was just a beginning of many accomplishments that were waiting for him.
A kid without a guide is like a chariot without a horseman. He could have taken any path, but this kid took up books as his guide and choose the right path and stayed on the course till the last breath.
He was introduced to the world of photography by books and this made his brain go crazy. He started buying camera and gear with very little money he could save. But he masted the art of making the most out of the least. As a kid, I grew up in my grandfather’s darkroom, holding his hands and watching him with fascination as he brought life to light. I used to be amazed at the amount of gear he has and the way he takes care of it. Now, this story is about my grandfather, so let us get back to him.
It was the time of marriage and my great-grandmother found him an angel, straight from heaven, Parvathavarthini. I have no words to describe her. My grandmother is love personified. Fitting to her name, she was the Goddess Meenakshi herself with her unparalleled beauty and unbound love and affection. The young couple were made for each other. But things started falling apart. Any business that my grandfather would try, would eventually fail. He was ridiculed by relatives and mocked by friends. But he had an angel to look after him. He kept trying relentlessly and never did his loose focus on his “Honesty” code. He travelled the whole nation and would never miss out any new business opportunity. But the man was not a risk-taker. He would play it safe and careful.
He paid taxes to the last penny and his every business transaction was recorded in the books for the government to inspect. Such is honesty of that man who was always mocked by fellow businessmen for his integrity.
The young couple did not have any children for a long time. After years of waiting, they were blessed with two beautiful daughters: Thenmozhi and Suganthi, named after his love for the Tamil language. Never did my grandfather worry that he had no son, as he was busy in showering his love and affection on those two kids. Today, I witnessed these two little girls who have grown up to be the fine women, stand over the mortal remains of my grandfather and weep like little girls lost in a wild world. But this is not the story of my mother or aunt, so let’s get back to my grandfather.
People thought, my grandfather was a coward, but they never realized honesty is the true form of bravery. He lived by a code and preached his code. He would never spend unnecessarily as he knows the value of money. He would never indulge in any kind of intoxication. He believed in himself and not on fate. He had no respect for superstition. He had respect for fellow human beings and he would always put family first on his priority list. These were the simple codes, that my grandfather followed. His self-developed personality was his sole guide in this world.
I have seen people make fun of him, disrespect him and also insult him. But he never raised his voice against them. I clearly remember by names , everyone who insulted him and today as his mortal remains lie calm, I see all those heads hanging in shame, guilt and respect. Honesty would not give you immediate results. It would take one’s lifetime to bear fruits. My grandfather did not live a grand life, but he had a fulfilling life. His life had no regrets. He had no regrets. He has made the world a better place to live for everyone in his family, extended family, employees and business circle. Right from his sister’s family, to the budding generation of my kids, my grandfather has made sure that everyone had and will have a good life to lead.
I am proud to be his grandson and today as I bid him farewell, his whole life, as I saw it, flashes before me. To me, he is a superhero with unlimited powers who led a life by a code! There won’t be another Son, born on this earth like him. May his soul Rest in Peace and guide me forever!
Mr. K Ramachandran
Perfect son, loving husband, doting father, prolific academician, honest businessman, greatest grandfather, wonderful human being and an epitome of Love and Honesty.