I first met Dada in the summer of 2006.
It was a chance meeting with the family that I learnt to call my own in the years to come. I remember Dude taking me through a crowded farewell party, for our soon to be best man. He wanted me to meet Dada first, before everyone else. As I struggled to think of an appropriate conversation starter, Dada gave me a huge, wide-eyed grin and shook hands with me.
"Nice to meet you!" he said, with a sideways smile at Dude. He spoke to me for a while, convinced he had seen me before. I was instantly comfortable, though I initially found it odd to immediately refer to him as 'Dada', as Dude had affectionately introduced him. I tried 'Uncle' for a few weeks. Truth be told, it just sounded wrong. 'Dada' found it's way into my heart sooner than I thought.
I learnt that Dada was the one who called a spade a spade. But he did it with a humor only he possessed.
Dada fried fish in the yummiest of ways. We'd be eating it faster than he could fry it. Lemon tinged, slighty spicy - yum.
He was ready to be a part of any conversation. Dada loved a good chat.
Cricket. Dada and all the boys, bonded over the cricket. Yelling, cheering, abusing even - but bonding all the same.
He said he hated the typical hindi drama serials. But Dada watched them all the same. With his wife. And secretly enjoyed them.
He doted on his grandchildren. The fried fish, was always for the younger one first, before the rest of us.
He was fiercely proud of the people he loved. He rarely showed it, but when he did - such a lion of a personality shone through.
Dada took pleasure in seeing us all at home. It brought a funny smile to his face, contentment perhaps.
He loved to eat bananas. Random? Yes. But still, very 'Dada', if that makes any sense.
He was one of the happiest people at our wedding. *heart* He bonded with my Dad over a single meeting. Kindred souls. As different as pears and potatoes, the two of them. Yet they found something to chat about, softly, sitting at the dining table, quite oblivious of everyone else.
He cared about Dude. Genuinely. With love. From the heart. And I know how that big huge barrel of affection tippled over onto me as well.
His wife was his best friend. He'd never admit to it, but boy, did we all know it. From morning walks, to chats over the morning paper, to teasing each other over random things, to yelling out loudly to her to come have dinner - we all knew.
Dada defended you. When you least expected, you'd hear this loud voice booming besides you.
When we announced we were pregnant, I remember Dada's face. He couldn't say all that he wanted to, I think...but his face seemed to have a 100 thoughts on it. All happy ones. Bless.
Dada enjoyed a good laugh. Even if it was at his own expense, it didn't matter. But a good, from the belly, laugh.
Dada valued the little things.
We lost Dada in Feb this year. There is little to be said for death.
But I am thankful that we have memories with him, of him, about him.
One of the phrases Dada often used,the one that made us laugh the most was this - सब साला गेम है - loosely translated, "It's all a bloody game!" He could use it in relation to an actual game of cricket, politics, parking meters, schools, Diwali decorations - anything. And it always sounded funny and it always seemed apt. Now that I think about it, it was usually his final word on the subject. He'd say it with an amused head shake and either walk away or get distracted with something else. The conversation, had promptly ended.
So I still choose to think of Dada that way...watching us from his lazy boy in the sky, glass in hand, amused with the lives we live and the choices we make. Dipping his finger in his glass and gently sprinkling drops around.
"It's all a bloody game." With that same, wide eyed grin.
That's Dada, right in the center of all of us. With the Amitabh Bachchan black hair and white stubble. *grins* We used to tease him about that too and he would chuckle and change the topic.
All through writing this, I had a little smile on my face...that's what it's all about though, isn't it?