I used to call my grandfather "Daddy", because I had always heard my mother calling him that. He was an agile man in his youth, but as time went by his body gave way to Parkinsons. His movements became slower by the day, and his thoughts more disoriented. Part of his problems were also because of old age.
He would be extremely clumsy at times, and this would not only be a great source of amusement to others, but to himself as well. He would chuckle generously after making mistakes, and trouble his wife with absolute relish. He was a naughty old man.
The year was 2006. School was closed for the summer holidays. I planned to spend them with my grandparents. I was going to be alone with them for the first time, since Mummy could not accompany me. Little did I realise that this vacation was going to alter my life forever.
The initial few days were boring. To pass some time, I got down to some house cleaning. I raided a bed-ful of photographs, and found them in a pathetic condition. The albums were tearing at the seams, and most of the photographs were spilling out. I am a sucker for preserving old stuff, so I decided to rearrange all of them neatly and put them in a new album.
The next day, Badimummy took me to the market. We spent some time roaming around and eating. On our way back, we stopped at a photo studio and purchased a HUGE album. Oh, how my arms ached carrying it around till we reached home.
The next few days were spent in an absolute frenzy. There were thousands and thousands of black-and-white photographs to sort. Badimummy would sit down besides me and tell me the story behind every one. How Daddy would hang bedsheets in the background before clicking family portraits, how he would spend so much money on film reels, how he pursued photography as a side hobby.. I learnt so much about him from the photographs, even though he was himself present in none of them.
A week or so later, the album was finally made. Daddy knew nothing about the whole project because I had kept the whole affair a secret. I wanted to give him a surprise, and I knew he would love it. I brought him outside, seated him at the dining table, slid the album in front of him, and waited. At first, he merely glanced here and there absent-mindedly. But after a few minutes, he fixed his sight on the album and raised his frail hand towards it. He slowly opened the cover, and came face to face with a majestic black-and-white portrait of his father. His gentle eyes clouded with tears, and I saw an entire life flash before me in that one hour..