The second time I visited I was more eager to meet everyone including a few cousins with whom I am not in touch with now. The minute I saw grandpa, I ran into his arms and hugged him. Grandpa held me tight and told my dad, "Look here Thara, blood is thicker than water." I looked up and asked him, what he meant by it. And he explained it to me...
I never got to meet him after that but I will always remember him and carry that sentence in my heart forever. As I have mentioned earlier ours is a nuclear family. We have boatloads of relatives but we only keep in touch with a few of them.
I heard of my father's older brother, my uncle, only in stories that my father told about their little adventures when they grew up in Bangalore. Dad told me how my uncle raised him and helped my father out when my grandfather passed away at a young age. My father always told me that his older brother and sister had helped him a lot in his life. Although we met his older sister every summer when we went to Chennai, I had not met his brother and his family till late 90's.
His brother had lived mostly in the north and somehow we had never had the opportunity to meet each other until he came to Chennai to carry out the funeral rites for their mother. And then he came down again for my wedding in 2005. He had grown old. Somehow I could not see the brave man that my dad had spoken of, the dare devil who did so many amazing stuff from the stories of my dad's childhood. But of course by now he was in his late 70's already. My uncle or Pedanaana as I called him.
How I wish I had sat down with him and spoken about their childhood stories. How I wish I could have known him better. How I regret that I did not spend time with him...And all these emotions doubled up yesterday when I received the news about his passing away. I was shocked but I assumed that my father will be able to be more practical and support me. I passed on the information and hung up the phone.
On the way back home in the evening, I called dad again and started talking and told him how I had cried like a baby when I had gone home during lunch. How talking to my cousins was so difficult for me. I told my dad that he has to sit down with me and tell me one day all the stories again so that I can write them down somewhere for Babs to hear them from me. To which my dad told me, "not today, I might cry."
That sentence shocked me. I had cried for an uncle I had barely known. My father cried for a brother with whom he had only spent the first 20 plus years of his life and spent the better half meeting him only as often as I had. And then again I remembered how "blood is thicker than water." It all made sense. After all the same blood runs in all our body...
I might not have known my uncle at all, but I know my father, I know that my father is what he is today because of my uncle's influence on him. I could sympathize with my cousins beacause I could empathize with them. I have two brothers and loosing either of them is out of question for me. No matter how out-of-touch I get with them.
I feel for my father, I feel for my uncle's family, I feel for my father's other siblings. I hate life when we have to face death.