Friday, April 4, 2008

In loving memory...

Today is my grandfather's birthday. If he were alive he would have been 84 years old. I have tremendous respect for my father's father. He was a strong and energetic man. I remember that he would give the strongest bear hugs. I asked him why he squeezed so hard and he replied that the strength he put in his hugs was proportional to his love for me.

He mostly lived with my older uncle but when ever he came over to visit it was always a special treat. We would prep the guest room for his arrival and my mom would cook his favorite dishes. He always had a couple of dollars for us kids. We were free to buy whatever we wanted.

Of course I only knew him as a grandparent. It turns out he lived through some interesting times. He was there when the rule of the British Raj ceased to exist and the Indian subcontinent was divided into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. He had only recently married my grandmother at the time. I remember him recalling a harrowing tale of crossing the border into Pakistan. The newlywed couple had chartered a plane but were not able to get on it. Regretfully they had to travel over land via train. Violent clashes between Hindu and Muslim factions made this a perilous journey. At one stop he recalled seeing bodies strewn about, vultures surrounding them, to full to fly away.

Luckily he made it to the relative safety of the newly formed country. There he started a family and became one of the first group of pharmacists produced by that nation. It goes without saying that the United States played a big part in shaping Pakistan in its early years. Parke Davis set up a factory in the port city of Karachi. My grandfather was selected to be the floor manager. He did a stand up job during his tenure.

He raised his children to be upstanding citizens and productive members of society. Soon enough they decided to immigrate to the US. At the time only a handful of immigrants were leaving Asia for greener pastures. Once his children settled down in their adopted homeland they asked him to join them. With the recent death of my grandmother (whom I have never met) he decided to comply.

And so it went he lived his life surrounded by the love of his children and grandchildren. He will be remembered as a loving grandparent and a intrepid pioneer.
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