Sunday, June 1, 2014

Love, Loss and the Land Beyond

This weekend, our family lost its eldest member, Dr. Rip Daman Singh; my paternal grandfather. He was 89 and had been ill for about 2-3 months, so this was not entirely unexpected, but it still came as something of a shock. He lived at home with us in Nairobi, and had been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Soon enough, the news spread far and wide, and his family members all over the globe were overwhelmed with calls, messages, and so much love and support. In these two days, I understood more than ever before how loved he was and just how many people looked up to him.

My grandfather was a doctor in Kenya during colonial times and after, and was in fact a British citizen. He travelled to quite a few places and made friends wherever he went. He was a 'tale twister' for Lions Club (quite an important distinction from 'tail twister' in a Lions' Club!) I remember whenever people came home to visit, he was always ready to laugh and share a joke or story or two from back in the day, and it always surprised me to see the wealth of experience that someone I lived with everyday had. 

Death is not an easy thing for humans to confront. In a society that has done as much as it can to make itself immortal, this final end is a harsh reminder of just how fleeting life can be. 

At this time more than ever, I wished that I could be home with my parents and the rest of the family, but also realised just how united the family was. Over three continents, this past weekend, we came together stronger than ever to celebrate the legacy of a wonderful man who is one of the reasons we are so united, and that none of us is ever truly alone. Today, he and my grandmother celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in the land beyond. They are together again after about 21 years, and those of us left here are all celebrating a life well lived with an abundance of love and laughter. Already, we've seen signs of him smiling down at us, and we know he'll be watching over us forevermore. 


"Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die."
- Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932

4 comments:

Frah Chaudhry said...

That was a very nice tribute to your grandpa and we all wish. Your family peace and strength during this time.

Frah Chaudhry said...

Thinking of the whole family at this difficult time. RIP

Namrata Kohli Sembi said...

Did you know that he was Kenyatta's doctor when Kenyatta was in prison? Then the British stopped his visits as they thought the Asians were helping Kenyatta during the Mau Mau uprising.

Roshni Walia said...

Really? That's awesome!!

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