My grandfather smiled at me with his sparkly, green eyes. There was a wealth of knowledge and a multitude of life’s experiences in those distant, but loving eyes. His stomach rumbled at a funny joke I had made, making me feel as if I was the most hilarious person in the world. And to him, my grandfather–my azoba, I was. And that’s all that mattered. He always stood near the stove, making his daily afternoon chai, a task delegated to him because he always made it best. He would slurp it in that obnoxious way little kids do, with so much innocence and mischievousness that you couldn’t help but just laugh.
I could not count the numerous times he had heard me ramble about various topics in Biology. I would lecture him on the sodium-potassium pump and how it triggered action potentials to eventually travel throughout the human body. He would always patiently nod, picking at his teeth with a toothpick to rid them of that night’s remains from dinner. “Are you getting bored?” I would ask him reluctantly. “You can go to bed if you’re tired, azoba.” He would always give me that curious, quizzical look as if to say, “why would you ask such a thing?” He answered, “No, I’m fine! Don’t worry. I have a few more minutes before I retire to bed for the night.” His reassuring personality put me at ease as I continued to recite the different types of neurons and their functions we had learned about in the past week.
In high school, not a single day went by when I didn’t tell azoba about my day no matter how boring or exciting it had been. He always listened to me, calmly and patiently, without judgment. It was as if his ears were my personal diary and his carefully chosen words a way of receiving necessary feedback. He taught me so many things I value today–my ability to fluently speak my native language, to appreciate old Hindi movies and music and to reminisce on their significance, but most importantly, to learn from others’ experiences and to value them because of that.
Tears well up in my eyes as I write about the man who has always meant so much to me. He now so often talks about how his time has come near, how he’s ready for The Lord to take him. It makes me wonder what happened to my strong, light-hearted azoba who would so reassuringly make the afternoon chai and welcome me home from school? Has life disappointed him so much that he wishes to cease living?
He’s been a father to me when I didn’t have one. He has been my best friend through thick and thin in times when I was that awkward kid in school. I just want him to know that I’m not ready for his words, that they really hurt. I want him to know that I love him very much and that I always will no matter what. I want him to know I appreciate everything he’s ever done for me and I’m not ready to lose him. Not yet.