Whenever I feel down I ask Dad to tell me Grandpa's story, and like a doting son-in-law, he obliges. My Grandpa never went to school it seems. He had attended a eleven day camp type thing held at a gurukul it seems. So he was an illiterate. But somehow he kept on practicing reading and writing throughout his life and could manage to read and write slowly. It is said that his father was forced to leave the house with his small kids by his brother.
So basically he belonged to a very poor family and had six siblings and old parents and a wife to support too at a very young age. With his hard work, grandpa bought a big piece of land and by the time my Mom was born, they even constructed a very nice and big house too. He was a man of very strong opinions and also a very righteous man. People used to come to him when they had disputes. Soon he became a person who had power and influence among the local people. Even ministers would come to him during and after elections so that he could persuade people to vote for them. He even tried a bit of politics himself but he realized that politics was not for people who had opinions of their own.
He was a simple man. Always dressed in a piece of dhoti which was always stained due to all the work he did in and around his house or field. He always had one or the other story to tell, some funny incident to recall and lot of dreams for all of us. Whenever I used to visit him I would see him busy in work. He would take me to the paddy fields, areca nut groove and cashew plantation. I loved his company a lot. He had so many things to share, to teach us.
When he passed away lot of people came from all over the place. People whom the family didn't know came and told us how my grandpa had helped them in time of need. Each and every person had some kind words to tell about him. One stranger came to my Granny and told him how my Grandpa had helped him with a very big amount at the middle of night when grandpa himself was in trouble. That was my Grandpa. And he never disclosed this to any in the family. He would sponsor poor students and always valued education a lot. Even without the formal education he had read the Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Geeta, Manu Smriti and even the Upanishads. He knew about all the Hindu traditions and stuff like that. And despite all this he was the most broad minded person I had ever seen. He never believed in superstitions and challenged the abnormal rules and regulations.
I always wonder what if he had got the opportunity of education like the rest of us. What all he would have achieved if he was given all the opportunities that the rest of his peers got. Sadly we will never know. But he has and always will be my greatest inspiration in life. I learnt a lot from him. My inspiration!!!! The Man!!! My Man!!!