September 08, 2007

For a grandfather, for a father

The fourth person to speak at my father's funeral on September 4 was me. First, I read out a few lines his 12-year-old grand-daughter Malaika, my niece in California, had written and wanted read. Then I had some of my own thoughts. Both below.

I'll post some other bits about my father here from time to time.

(Previous: To a father, Remembering Bain, A gentle, fearless man, To Bain).

***

For Bain's memorial Service, from Malaika

Many of you knew my grandfather as an administrator, as a bureaucrat or as a government official. However, I knew him simply as Bain -- my grandfather. In fact, until very recently, I did not even know that he was famous or had held so many important positions. He was humble and unassuming. He once told me that accomplished people didn't need to brag about their achievements because everyone would just know that they are accomplished. Bain was right and I will never forget that. He had a great sense of humor and made me laugh. He had some eccentricities such as looking for the cheapest haircut. He had me do my part when I was little by pulling out each of his hairs one by one.

Although Bain is no longer alive, his spirit lives on. I will miss his visits to my house in the U.S. I will miss returning home from school and sitting and chatting with him and my grandmother. He will always be in my heart.

***

I think my father would have been taken aback to see all of you here! He liked to pretend he had few friends, and yet here you all are.

My father spent a while in the Navy just before Independence, and I think that experience explains his fondness for the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "HMS Pinafore"; in particular, for these lines: "Stick close to your desks and never go to sea/And you all may be Rulers of the Queen's Navy."

He never went to sea, my father. But then he joined the IAS.

And imagine with me a scene from Punjab, during Partition. A convoy of refugees straggles along a road. It is escorted by a few constables and a 26-year-old IAS man. At one point, he crosses alone through the convoy to see what's happening on the other side -- and what he sees is a band of screaming men with swords, running towards the refugees, thirsty for blood. Without a thought, in a manner he would forever describe as "foolhardy", the young man runs towards them, waving his stick and shouting as if leading a force. Which he wasn't, because the police were on the other side of the convoy, oblivious.

The blood-seekers, they turn and run.

That young man was my father. "This above all", goes the "Hamlet" quote he liked, "to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be false to any man."

That day in Punjab, this man was true to himself. And I think maybe it is because he was true that you are all here today.

For my staunch siblings Ravi and Meena, for my constant and courageous mother Neela, for our spouses and children, and for Bain, for JBD -- I'd like to say, thank you for being here.

5 comments:

sophia said...

Dear Dilip

Thankyou for letting me have a glimpse of the incredible man your father was, through your blog.

I am sure you and your family rejoices in his life well lived.

sophia

Bug said...

My condolences to you and your family. It is very heartening to know that such an honest and brave man did exist..I am glad to read about him through your writing!

Jai_Choorakkot said...

Re. handling the partition riot mob

Wow.

Thanks and hope you will occasionally give us more such nuggets on dcubed. Searched for No trumpets and bugles on the web. The following is the only relevant link I got:

http://www.epw.org.in/epw/uploads/articles/4418.pdf
An interesting and illuminating review.

regards,
Jai

jaideep said...

Dear Dilip
Very sorry to read about your Dad passing away. I always enjoyed talking to your parents in my brief visits with them.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Regards,

"Austin" Jaideep

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you all. Sophia and Bug, he inspired me greatly.

Jaideep, thanks! Good to hear from you. Where are you and please get in touch! Send me a note at ddd AT rediff DOT co DOT in, please?