He rose early and cleaned the house and performed a two hour puja, before going to the temple for his daily services as a priest. He returned late afternoon, rested for some time after talking to my granny for an hour or so. Then he watered the trees in our compound and performed his night worship. He ate little, spoke less, seemed contended and lived a healthy and long life of ninety two years. My grandmother was equally satisfied to assist her husband and care for me. I never saw them quarrel or complain. Their evening entertainment was hearing an occasional song or news on the radio, and they simply shared a happy silence. We slept early and rose before sunrise. We had little but we were happy.
I remember one evening as a teenager, during my annual visit to our ancestral home, I asked him about his life as a teenager. He had nothing much to say except a few stories from the first world war that he heard from an Indian sepoy whom he met on a long bus ride. He also spoke about the horrors inflicted by Hitler and recalled the freedom movement of Gandhi. But he didn’t seem too excited. Just then, I heard a loud thud – it was a fat snake that fell from the thatched roof onto the courtyard of the house. The poor thing then slipped to the coconut garden. I gasped and turned to my grandfather who sat expressionless and slowly and nonchalantly rose from his seat. He went to the well, drew water and gracefully set on his evening duty of watering the trees and plants. I asked him if he wasn’t scared of snakes. He said snakes are more terrified of us and we pose a greater threat to them than they can harm us.
Once my brother accidentally stepped on the tail of a snake and it instantly bit him on the right ankle. My other brother who saw it, yelled and I too screamed for help.
To be continued….