Written by Radhika Sethi
Let me begin this article with the most cliche saying there could be…
“You don’t realize the value of something till you don’t have it anymore”
But it is painstakingly true.
In June of 2021, I tragically lost my grandfather to COVID-19. What he went through, what we went through was an experience I still struggle to put into words. This piece is about the life lessons he taught us over dinner conversations, ice cream dates, walks in the park, trips to the arcade, while watching cricket matches, but I digress.
As much as this might be a personal piece, I am sharing it with you all because there are life lessons to be learnt from the greatness of this common Indian man.
1. “Beta, kaabil bano”
Be skilled, be independent, and command respect. It was as simple as that, there was no other way about it. Typical grandfatherly advice, he imparted in sometimes fun, sometimes stern manner – make yourself capable. Keep learning, keep growing – he didn’t just say this but led by example. After an illustrious career spanning 4 decades, he started a wholesale business to ‘keep himself busy’. And yes, that grew into a family business much larger than what any of us had anticipated. This too, was not enough. At 81, he called us everyday pitching his business ideas.
2. Not all vices are bad
Let aspirations drive you in life. Set high standards for yourself and work hard to achieve them. Oftentimes, people will make you feel guilty for wanting certain things, living a certain kind of lifestyle. But if that’s the way you want to live your life, then do it on your own terms.
Many confuse this for arrogance. It is not. It is living your best life, doing what makes you happy. At the end of the day, what matters more than happiness?
3. Family comes first
If any lesson can be drawn from my grandpa’s life, it is the importance of family. When all else fails, family stand by you. Work but don’t get so fixated that you forget to nurture relationships. Work very hard but not at the expense of making memories with family.
A true example of living life king size, he was the embodiment of ‘you only live once’. What is life if not a collection of problems and us overcoming them. But it is up to you to make it fun, fulfilling, and memorable. Don’t let the kid inside you grow up, the spirit is what keeps you young forever. And when you’re gone, it is that spirit that people will remember you by.
5. Money may not buy happiness, but you need it
Yes, real happiness and peace does not come from money. But, money is important and you must acquire the means to earn money, to live the life you aspire. That’s what I loved most about his life lessons, they were philosophical not to an unachievable extent. He taught you things that were practical, to survive and thrive in this world.
6. No matter what the tragedy, keep calm
He often said, the tragedies he has been, a multiple Bollywood blockbusters could be made from his life stories. Even in the process of his passing, he was probably the most logical and level-headed person. He spent one entire month in the ICU, alone. Not a single day could we meet him. He video called us from the ICU and told us to get to work and not worry about him. He did not whine about coming back home but understood the devastating situation. I could go on and on, but again, I would digress…
While writing this, I wondered why I did not write this before, when he was here with me…
So that’s another lesson then, if you appreciate somebody, especially your grandparents – tell them you love them. Life is more uncertain than you’d realize.
(Photo Credits: Author)
We wrote something for everyone who lost a loved one to COVID-19, read it here.