Baba

My ancestral home is a bunch of brick walls plastered with pastel colored paint. In the home, there’s a living room we refer to as “baithak”. That is where he stays, my grandfather. Baba has been living there for as long as I have known, for every time I came here, this is exactly where I found him, on a divan in the corner.

My relationship with my Baba has been of two Marie biscuits every morning. I’ll carry my milk and sit on the couch right next to his place and ask for the two biscuits. I’d go over there to greet him, and I’ll get two biscuits. Baba’s cupboard never ran out of two Maries. What else it never ran out of was poems, stories, and plays.

My Baba is a liberal man. He doesn’t write about love. His notebooks are filled with politics, mythology, prayers, society’s ways, and its consequences. His notebooks are filled with the deeds of his family, good and bad, to which he never raised his voice, he doesn’t judge.

My Baba is a liberal man, and I have no idea how he turned 90 in this world. I don’t know how he got through with his daughter earning a Ph.D., how he got through with letting people get acknowledged for his work, how he got through with son-in-laws who were lesser educated than his daughters and how they got through their marriages, with dignity and respect.

My Baba is a liberal man, and I have no idea how he got through with his sons turning their back on him, with his daughter-in-laws dividing the walls he built, with his food being prepared in two kitchens without taste, and with his long-suffering where nobody would help.

My Baba was a liberal man. He got through it all, with his sons shedding silent tears on his death, with his daughters reciting his old poems at his funeral, with us kids, never been able to see his body.

I don’t have a picture with my Baba. Nobody does. He still resides in the baithak, five feet above his Diwan, like he always did. Alone. My ancestral house is a bunch of pastel colored brick walls, because it’s not home.