Dadu and I
It’s five years to the day. That’s how long it has been since he left.
I remember the day I got the news. I was in Professor Ruth Knechtel’s satire class. I received a call from dad, and ignored it. Later, when I called back, mom gave me the news. Dadu had passed away the night before.
A lot of people don’t know this. But it was Dadu who instilled in me the love of storytelling. The earliest stories I can remember were told to me by Dadu. They were tales of his childhood in his ancestral village, located in current Bangladesh, formerly a part of British India.
Dadu is the reason I am who I am. He dared to follow his dreams, and broke away from the family business. My ancestors were traditionally traders of paan, a leaf that is popular in India as a mouth freshener post-meals. He came to Calcutta as a young man to become an artist. And today, I can dare to follow my dreams of becoming a writer, thanks to him.
He worked for Bombay Photos, and perhaps, his most popular art piece is the Nirma Washing Powder dancing girl.
Nirma Washing Powder dancing girl
I was his favourite grandchild. And, I am not even the youngest. He had an unshakeable belief that I was his mother, reincarnated. Sure, it’s true that my face shape and bone structure bear an uncanny resemblance to my great-grandmother, but that could very well be because we share the same genes. That is what I tried to tell him. He brushed it off. Apparently, when my mother was pregnant with me, my great granny came into Dadu’s dreams and told him, “Son, I am coming to your family.” That’s the story he firmly stuck to.
We were close. I dreamt of him often after he passed away. He would come into my dreams and impart bits of wisdom to me. I wonder whether those dreams were a projection of my own desires, or whether it was Dadu coming to give me a sort of closure. I would like to believe the latter.
But he hasn’t been coming into my dreams for over two years now. I think he has either passed into that place where all souls go to, or if there is reincarnation, then he has been reborn already.
I know I will feel a familiar vacuum when I visit Calcutta this year.
I miss you, Dadu. A lot.