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Grandpa’s return gift

I remember the summer holidays when, as a young girl, I used to have nothing to do and found plenty of time on my hands. One day I saw my 80-year-old grandfather struggling to read the newspaper with a magnifying lens. Priya Narayanan writes.

columns Updated: Sep 11, 2013 23:54 IST
Priya Narayanan

I remember the summer holidays when, as a young girl, I used to have nothing to do and found plenty of time on my hands. One day I saw my 80-year-old grandfather struggling to read the newspaper with a magnifying lens.

Tears rolled down my eyes. How can my dear grandfather, a retired civil engineer, not be able to enjoy his favourite hobby? I wondered if I could help him in any way. As I stood there hesitantly, he looked up and asked me to read the editorial column. I began nervously but he motivated me.

And that infused confidence in me.

This continued for years. I used to read aloud all the sections of the newspaper, including the obituaries. When I stammered with the difficult words that I could not pronounce, he would teach me their correct pronunciation. He taught me to break the long words into small words and learn their spellings. What began as monotonous reading, suddenly made sense to me as my granddad explained the news in detail.

These ‘news room sessions’ became such an obsession with me that I stopped going out to play with my cousins and friends. My rendezvous with my grandpa was of prime importance to me. Soon, a leisure activity became a passion, improved my language and comprehension skills and gave me immense happiness.

Today, after about 40 years, I relive this experience which has educated me to be more sensitive to the needs of others and has made me a better human being. Moreover, it has taught me important life skills of tolerance, patience, understanding and empathy. The happiness derived by helping somebody in need without expecting anything in return is immeasurable.

As I recall those precious days that I spent with my granddad, I am able to appreciate his wisdom and experience. His unconditional love and affection had helped turnaround a shy and introvert child into a confident and well-bred person. My salutes to you, grandpa.