|Late. Vishwanath Godbole|
Is a man someone who speaks about cricket or golf? Or is a man someone who goes to the gym and flaunts his muscles? Having these conditioned notions about manhood at the back of our mind all our life, being the Indians we are; what happens when our life is touched by a ‘man’?
The first time I heard Bob Dylan’s prodigy “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man…how many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky” instantly the first image that flashed before my eyes was this beautiful man, with watery deep eyes; smiling at me, my grandfather, Late. Vishwanath Godbole. When I say ‘late’, in my mind I celebrate his unmatched life.
|Leela and Vishwanath Godbole, the most compatible couple in our family|
The passage of my memory goes years back in time as I stand next to my grandfather lying still in time. I remember my routine vacations in his house in Ambernath with my cousins and my uncanny demands from him. Remembering the most vivid one; I had visited him during Christmas just after I had moved to a convent school. I wanted to buy a photograph of Jesus Christ in Mother Mary’s lap; we went to every shop possible in the little town of Ambernath but couldn't find one. He then drove through some narrow lanes and finally found it for me, just the way I had imagined it to be. I was too small to value what he did for me that day but I was happy from my heart, the most difficult thing in the world of a child. He often took us to a bustling lane called ‘bangdigalli’ (which means a place having lot of shops) behind the Ambernath station and I used to get mesmerized by the fascinating little things that the place had to offer. He would smile, bargain, get exhausted but still get something for us.
I recollect his words on one of recent family outings when he said, “Baccha, you are my last responsibility since after you the next generation is their parents responsibility. So do well in whatever you do since you have chosen something on your own.” He smiled, his hands were warm and his eyes as always comforted me and boosted my belief. I am the youngest in his grandchildren but he would always make an effort to know what each of us were doing in our respective lives and trust me he knew more about us than our parents.
Mothe baba (as we grandchildren addressed him) loved cricket, he had a passion for making wine and he had an innate ability to strike an interesting conversation with every person. He liked people with opinions but he would still stand by his ideologies. He stood by my ailing grandmother till her last breath and made us all believe in love. My grandmother was very graceful and she had a flair for writing. Their love and affection for each other was born out of compassion, natural compassion. God knows why people debate about love not being there in this world, I have seen it myself through my grandparents. The reason I stress on the word ‘man’ is because mothe baba had the ability to comfort people, make them smile, cry, love, appreciate, understand, feel and believe. If a man cannot do these things then what’s his ‘manhood’ of use anyway.
I have beautiful memories of my grandparents, memories of their togetherness and conversations. For now I want to keep them in my heart as every year unfolds and pray that in some way they will join my journey again.
|Mothe Baba with his great-grandchildren|
Vihaan and Anusha (whom he fondly called Ganga since he was born in Banaras)