Diary keeping is usually a hobby for some but those who practice it more often are bound to turn it into art. One such artist and diarist I knew all my life was my very own grandfather who we all affectionately called ‘Papa’. When an old man interestingly pens down every thought in his diary, no matter how mundane or how celestial, it can really be a source of respite for his grand daughter who one day comes in possession of it while randomly sifting through his orderly array of books in his large almirah. As I held the diary in my hands , it ceased to be just a diary but metamorphosed into a treasure book with its neat silvery pages as windows traversing me to his past life , his memories, his share of joys and sorrows. Every word neatly scribbled like pearls scattered all over the pages which I vow to keep preserved, and forever treasured. As I shuffle through the pages, I read the lines how his beloved mother lovingly called him ‘bulbul’ or ‘muakhte’ (pearl) and how he wished to be a bird someday so that he could carry his mother over his wings to show her the world around. The diary dazzling with his calligraphic handwriting writes how he travelled 16 kms back and forth on foot, from his hometown to the place where his school was located which in itself talks of his hard-work and his struggle he underwent to achieve success and accomplishments which he achieved later in his life. He exemplified the quintessential self-made man who lived his entire life as per simple living, high thinking value system. While I read his stories inscribed over the pages, I almost heard his soothing yet powerful voice reading me every word he has written thus, leaving my eyes moist and my heart numb.
It’s so difficult and discomforting to realise that the person you’ve spent your entire life with is suddenly no more, and what follows after that is his reflections and his echoes resounding in every corner of the house. I grew up in the warm company of my most dear garndpa who had been my life long teacher, advisor, fellow-reader and travel partner. So many places we visited together and so many more were yet to be visited. He once told me how he desired to pay a visit to the tomb of Allama Iqbal who is laid at rest in Lahore, Pakistan as he was his ardent admirer. He was an avid reader and our common love for literature made us spend more and more time with each other. We often enjoyed long and lively conversations filled with sweet recessions of poetry from his two favourite books which had to be Kuliyaat-e-Iqbal and Kalaam-e-Sheikh ul Alam and I would often respond with the couplets from either Deewan-e-Ghalib or Faiz. Not just the boundless passion for literature that he possessed but he was also a great mathematician, something I was never really good at. He would always help me solve those mathematical problems and numericals and took no time to come up with the solutions in the easiest possible ways. He was not just my mentor at home but also my teacher at our local Darsgah who taught me the basics of holy Quran and with his consistent effort made me memorise various surahs of the holy book for which I will always be grateful to him. This further swings me back to my childhood days when he would help me gather multitude of flowers of variety of hues and make a bouquet of those luminous flowers so that I could present it to my favourite teacher on teacher’s day. Gardening and nursing of flowers was another of his prime hobbies and his labour hours at his garden threw open a rich and radiant view of lush green garden abound with colorful flowers. There was almost nothing he wasn’t good at and he performed every task with utmost sincerity and perfection.
My grandfather , late Mr Muhammad Mukhtar Bhat was highly devoted and religous man who all his life followed the Islamic principles in letter and spirit. He would always read and revise Quran and its various interpretations.
Grandfathers are the most patient listeners, amazing storytellers and if patiently heard, they could really turn out to be your best of buddies. He was one gem of a person whose utmost disciplined life taught me how not to be messed or disarrayed but to be highly consistent and orgainsed in life. Now that he is not there, it still feels he is right there over his bed, holding a book in his hands with his spectacles on, and reading the lines with a sweet smile at his lips lighting up the entire space around him. His room and his worn out clothes still smell of his pleasantness and the whole house still reverberates with his melodious hums.
I can endlessly write about him but words will fall short to capture his highness and nobility, his greatness. He has left a sea of kind deeds and practices for all of us to be followed. I will always be indebted to him for every kind word I say or any kind deed I do as he has taught me the way to live life with utmost simplicity, religiosity and perseverance. He will continue to live with me in the deepest recesses of my heart and I will always find him being my torch bearer in the darkest of my days. He will always stand tall like an old chinar tree embracing us all under his shadow and I like a bird perching on the twigs of his advices will vow to chirp, sing and enchant his songs of strength , love and wisdom.
Bazila Ehsan Bhat is a Research Scholar at Central University of Kashmir, Department of English.