I stay in a joint family. And it’s kind of funny, because my Dad’s elder sister is as old as my mum’s mother. So basically, my Aunt is somewhere my Grandma’s age. Which made my Grandma, my Great Grandma’s age. And my Grandfather… Well you get the point.
Due to this massive age difference ( of 72 years between him and me), I got to know him as a person that the rest of the world didn’t. And didn’t get to know the man he was, till I was told stories about him by others. Added to that, I returned to Agra, only in 1996, and he was 80.
It was like the life he lived with me and the life he lived before I met him were two different lives. I never knew the weightlifter, tennis player, genius statistician or the economist in him while he lived. But I definitely knew the honour bound, simple living, high thinking embodiment of intelligence. Somehow his training me with handling money cries out loud that the economist in him had taken sanyas, but he taught me what few others would venture to teach (at least with their own money to burn) – how to spend money. He taught me, how money was the best servant but the worst master. He taught me how to spend money not on myself, but on others. He taught me how to loan out only as much as I can afford to give away, because money feuds can cause the best of relationships to thaw. And he taught me the value of relations. The value of family. The value of people.
A simple man, whose only expenditure on himself was a white dhoti every quarter, and perhaps a new shirt. Everything else he spent on his family. Which at that time mostly comprised of his grandchildren. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was pampered to a fault. In grade 3, I had a daily pocket money of Rs. 50, which had to be spent, and I could not spend it on my clothes, shoes or the likes. (Those I would get anyway). When I couldn’t think where or how to spend it, I spent it on others. And that is how I learnt the joys of sharing is priceless. To be able to spend on others is one habit that I owe to him.
Babu was someone who believed that SHE is the key to the betterment of the society, enabling socio-economic growth as a whole – Sports, HealthCare and Education. That today has become the core of the work that I’d like to do. He taught me never to be afraid of pursuing your dreams, because he said, that each human comes with a great potential into this world, and the problem is that they try and reinvent the wheel for the benefit of what others would think. He said, that even if you’d do something perfectly, there would be someone who’d find a fault with it. If only we’d spend more time in not conforming ourselves to what is the tried and tested path, and tread on the road untrodden, we’d realize that there is a lot more that can be done and achieved when the mind is truly unlocked, unshackled and set free.
They say that an educated person is one who can entertain a notion without having to support it. Babu was a traditional conservationist – to the tune of everyone telling my mother’s family that she’d been married into one of the most conservative families that there could ever be. But, the beauty of the mind of an educationalist was that he never forced his choices on others, and accepted that each and every one of us is entitled to make our own choices. On the contrary, he used to show signs of pleasure when I’d challenge his argument, and if I was able to prove his hypothesis incorrect, or mine better, he’d happily accept it – something that I am still trying to get myself to do. There were many a times when I’d go to him with a problem, and though he’d advise me, he would always want me to solve it myself. If I failed, he’d pick me up, tell me to dust myself, and ask me to understand the reason for failure. He was a supporter, immaterial of failure or success. He’d quote Einstein and say that one who hasn’t failed hasn’t ever tried anything new. Success gives name, failure wisdom.
It’s been 10 years since he’s left us, and in those ten years I have learnt, travelled and understood the world (or so I’d like to think). What changed is that the words that he’d spoken to me in those hours I spent discussing random things, started making sense, and I could sense the timeless wisdom in what he’d said. And I saw a plan emerge – he had made sure that I was well fed and watered, that I did not have to be forced to do something because I had to do it – I could choose to do what I wanted. And I believe that he’d have wanted me to give back to the society and work for its welfare. That idea gave birth to twins – Tathastu and Crussle – one for HER (HealthCare, Education and Rural Welfare), and the other a platform to bring together the various people who’d like to give back, and enabling a cross-platform (socio-economic growth platforms, and not the computer related iOS and Android ones), to leverage each other’s expertise. The time has come for me to do my bit in trying to make a difference and spoiling the Parity Party that our country is hosting. Because to grow, we need to make an effort. There are dreams out there lurking in the minds of men and women without the means, our job is to help them realize those dreams. And believe it or not, this has happened because of the vision and dreams of Dr. Jagdish Chandra Chaturvedi – who taught me all he could, and had confidence in what he sowed in me, shall ripen one day. It was a theoretical hypothesis, which now is being practically demonstrated – I am the unaware traveler who happened to stumble upon his unwritten book, and now is leafing through the chapters, learning as I progress – slowly but steadily.