My grandfather, Harish Motihar, is no more. This is a difficult truth to process, I have been lucky in my 27 years on the planet and this is the first time I’ve felt the loss of someone this close to me. He went suddenly when it was his time, and I’m glad he did not suffer. But in the sudden-ness of his demise, I see the things he left behind—a loaf of bread he baked left in the fridge, a clipboard of sudokus by his bedside table, and packets of snacks tied up with rubber bands in his cupboard, and it is difficult to process that he is not with us anymore.
Nanu was an introvert, and a man of few words. He only spoke when he really had to, and he would often retreat to a corner when faced with a crowd. He liked best of all to wake up at the crack of dawn when nobody else was around, go for a walk, sip his tea, and bake his bread. He had many questions about the universe - some trivial and some grand, and he spent a lot of time reading, and thinking about answers, and conducting little experiments.
Nanu and I were alike in many ways. This was often explained by the family by saying that we were born on the 17th of March. We were both quiet and curious, and I think he and I both saw the beauty of an elegant, efficient solution to a challenging problem, and the joy of coming up with one. His house was full of odd contraptions of his design, and if either of us came up with or came across something particularly clever, we would share it with each other.
He also thought a lot about the bigger questions of life. Where do we come from? Why do we face sadness and loss? How can we be happy? He liked the teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese buddhist monk, and here is an excerpt from one of his books:
“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source, Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.” —No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life
I think nanu will always be with us. He will live on with all that he taught us, all that he thought and felt and said and often didn’t say. I will ask questions about the universe like he did, and sometimes I will find answers. I will listen for the sound of silence like he used to tell me to, and sometimes I will hear it. When I go for walks in the mountains, I will whistle to the birds like he did, and sometimes they will whistle back like they did for him, and it will be like he is walking with me.