My granddad (Bawaji1) passed away early this week. My mom broke the news early Tuesday morning.

He was getting weaker and weaker over the last couple of years. I have some of his pictures in my Google Photos collection spanning a decade that show his body frailing over time.

Here’s a photo from December 2009:


And here’s another from April 2018:


Most of the recent pictures that I have of him are from celebratory times such as those from my parents’ 25th anniversary, weddings in the (extended) family, etc. The only four that seem random are as old as 7 years ago. I did not take enough pictures of him.

My dad called me yesterday to come back home for his Terahvin, if only for 2-3 days. But I could not make up my mind. Death has been something that I do not know how to deal with. I recall when my other grandfather (Nanaji) died, my mom had to ask me and my siblings to cry. This is one of the only clear memories I have of dealing with death in the family, I was 12.

He lived a good life. He raised five kids with my grandmom (Dadiji, who died of cancer when I was 5), built the foundations of the business that my dad and uncles took over. He had my joint family to take care of him until the very end. He worked to help out in the business until he could not get out of the bed anymore. From what I know, he was well respected in the community where I grew up.

Most of my memories of him are from my early childhood. He loved kids as the picture above suggests. One specific image that I have in mind is from a photo of him holding me when I was little while I wore black sunglasses (I need to ask my mom to send me that photo).

One of the last conversations I had with him was in April this year when I got back home for my sister’s wedding. For the first few minutes in that conversation, he confused me with my cousin Sulove who is studying to be a doctor in India and kept asking me about my internship (Tears poured out of my eyes while writing this sentence as it reminded me what kind of a person he was and how much he cared about me). I think it was because of his poor eyesight and perhaps also because no one had told me I was coming home that night. Once he realized it was me, he seemed to feel guilty about it. I did not mind this whole affair but I realized it how much it affected him as 10 or so days later when I was leaving back for Chicago, he told me how he was sorry that he did not recognize me that day.

I cannot be present with the family during this time of mourning but I also cannot keep my thoughts contained, hence this post is my way of mourning and remembrance.

  1. I and other children in the family have always called him that, even though the correct Hindi term is Babaji. ↩︎