An Ordinary Life, Lived to Perfection

Last year was cruel to many, I lost my Chachu and Baba. Writing about Chachu is still out of question, just the thinking makes me cry. Baba lived his ration of years, which gives me the strength to write.

My Baba (grandfather) was a very ordinary man. He had a government job that somehow paid for the means, had no aspirations.

He didn’t show much love to anyone, a cold smile that became lukewarm towards the fag end was good enough. My dad tells me that I am the only kid he played with enjoyably.

Priced Hug from Baba

His only possession was an HMT watch and a Bajaj Chetak. I hardly remember him riding the scooter. He would ask me to sit on the bicycle with him instead of wasting money on fuel.

When I grew up, the era of the internet arrived along with life beyond the small city. I wanted to be different, do something extraordinary in life, unlike my Baba.

One of his juniors built a bungalow in front of our house. My grandmother used to shout, “Look! Your junior Mr. Awasthi has built a bungalow, we can’t even afford rent”. Baba would say, “I won’t steal”, move out.

It took me a few years to concede that he never took a single penny as commission prevalent in his job in the Food Corporation of India. He kept on getting suspended and hardly bothered.

Baba never showed much attachment. Maybe I spied a tear or two on goodbyes.

He was always busy with small things I thought were useless.

Watering the plants, mending zips of bags and cleaning shoes to ensure we don’t have to buy new ones. Baba never wasted a single thread. I thought it was a waste of life!

He was always busy, giving his 100% on these useless activities. He was so focused that we had to call him out a few times to get a response.

When I got my first job, he gave me a pleasant smile. If someone got admission to IIT, he would offer the same smile. I represented India in Karate, got the same smile.

He would nod and move out when some calamity came. Nonchalant, I thought.

In his last days, his memory faded, hardly recognising us. Baba was even more detached. He didn’t need anything or anyone.

I have seen some extraordinary people dying with unfulfilled desires while Baba looked so peaceful in death. His face was radiating peace and joy.

Death is inevitable. However, only a few accept it so gracefully. Baba had no desires or attachments- I doubt he ever followed Buddha.

His ordinary life was full of small details. Baba rarely had extreme emotions and lived with panache- As Krishna prescribed to Arjun about being “STHIRPRAGYA”, steady in all situations.

Now that Baba is gone, I realised he lived every moment, gave 100% to every small detail, making it extraordinary.

While I aspire to do extraordinary things in life, Baba will remind me to enjoy every little detail.

The day I feel I am at peace. I will wear one of his possessions to remind me that extraordinary is giving 100% to the ordinary.

Baba with his rare smile