I was literally running to keep pace with Dada. Dada was how I addressed my grandad. This was the most precious part of my day. I had Dada all for myself this time of the day. It was a daily ritual for him to go out for a morning walk at the break of dawn with me clutching his dhoti tight and trying to keep pace with him.
“Why are you so slow?”, he asked out loud. Slow? This was the fastest I could walk. I was sure that if I participated in the Walking race at school and could maintain this speed, no one could even come close to me!
“Dada, I am literally running! Can’t move faster”, I blurted out, completely short of breath.
“Ok, let’s take a ten minute break”, he said smilingly.
As I sat down on the park bench with him, I could not help but admire him, my idol. He was close to seventy five, but had the energy and vigour that would put young lads to shame. All of six years, I was completely in awe of his personality. His towering physique, the respect he got from people, his command over the English language (which was a rarity then), his penchant for leading a meaningful life, all this made him stand out in the crowd.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”, Dada asked. I could see the twinkle in his eyes. This was a staple question for me each day. And like all confused kids, I had a different answer for him everyday. But he was not aware that today I was ready for this question and had thought of the answer beforehand.
“Follow your footsteps”, I replied with complete conviction. Dada was taken aback. He was not prepared for this answer. But I could see the pride swell up in his eyes.
“Do you really mean it?” he wanted me to clarify.
“Yes Dada.”, I replied shaking my head. He smiled back at me and hugged me tight across his broad chest. I could see his eyes moisten up even as he got up and spoke out in his deep voice, “Let’s finish our walk for the day.”
I smiled back, clutched his dhoti and began following his footsteps.