Leaving behind a legacy


Last evening, I was part of a very unique celebration – the centenary year of my husband’s maternal grandfather, HS Ramaswamy thatha’s birth. It was a small (by Indian standards) and private ceremony at the residence of HS Ramaswamy in Jayanagar, a full 25 years after his demise. Born in 1916, he was the oldest of 10 children in his family with the youngest being 25 years younger than him. The enormous age difference makes you wonder if it was ever possible for the youngest and the oldest to get to know each other very well but it was in fact, the youngest one’s (Jaya ajji) idea to celebrate her big brother’s 100th year birthday.

Since it was a nice idea and being the pro event organisers we are these days, we (his immediate family of 3 daughters and co.) were happy to facilitate the event. We decided to invite the entire family of 70 people including all his sibling’s families (siblings, their children, their children’s spouses, grandchildren, etc) for this little ceremony. However, none of them were compelled to come for the event unless they shared a remote connection with thatha since they could be spending the Sunday in mundane chores in endless preparation for the week ahead.

All of us love our grandparents and have very fond memories of our childhoods with them. After they are long gone, we tend to suffer from selection bias and only remember good things about them. I knew very little about thatha (all good things) and it was mostly from Karthik. But yesterday, every single one of them shared not just good memories about thatha but life changing stories of great love, respect and admiration that makes HS Ramaswamy thatha the great spirit he is. I wondered how it was possible that one man had changed the lives of so many more people. There were stories of him weaving cloth for his siblings to teaching physics to raising children on stories of great leaders to finding jobs for his nephews to being immensely loving and caring.

It was an absolutely fun evening meeting all the relatives who had taken the trouble to come all the way from across town. With less than a week of my vacation left, I couldn’t help but want to get every little bit of the evening for being away from home for the last 1.5 years has made me realise that the best thing about being in India is the super massive gang of family and friends who are always around and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world – not clean roads or a dryer or chocolate croissants!

Even though we organised this event and really hoped for all invitees to attend this little ceremony, I still cannot fathom how we managed to bring so many people together. At least, I know it has nothing to do with us. It was the cause that was greater than any one of us and that’s probably what drove HS Ramaswamy thatha’s virtues as well. Wishing him a very happy 100th and hoping that this spirit of giving unconditionally lives on!


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