P Doraisamy, aged 70, retired as a teacher ten years ago, and has since been working as a school counsellor. He has a granddaughter, Vathsalaa, aged nine, and a grandson, Barathan, aged five. He would like to be remembered as a passionate teacher of Literature and a caring friend and mentor to his students.
Do you remember when you were about eight-years old, and I had just been discharged from hospital after a spinal surgery? Your mother had given you strict orders not to disturb grandpa so that he could have some rest and sleep. But then you had to personally reassure yourself that he was going to be fine. So you crept into my room, and thinking that I was sound asleep, you traced my bandaged wound with your soft, tiny fingers. You stroked it lightly as if to ease my pain. I did not exactly know what thoughts were going on in your mind. But at that moment, I was deeply touched by your care and concern. I felt a warm glow of love engulf me. I felt so blessed to have you as my grandchild. Perhaps, no medicine could have eased my pain or comforted me as effectively as your loving touch. How wonderful it would be, I wondered then, if your compassionate heart would continue to grow and let you find joy and fulfillment in stroking away the pain from those who need to be touched with love and kindness.
One evening, when we were reading a newspaper report about poor, destitute old folks who lived and died alone, you swore not to let that happen to grandma or me. You wondered aloud why, these old folks, who must also be someone’s parents, had been abandoned to live in pain and misery. You could not fathom in your innocent heart that there are human beings who are capable of such callousness and ingratitude. As if you wanted to wipe away the sins of others, you declared that you wanted to visit an old folks’ home so that you could “help them and love them”. Do you know how happy and thrilled I was to discover such compassion in your young heart? I had not failed as a grandparent. You have enduring values that would not only enrich your own life but also help you enrich the lives of others.
I hope and pray that you will continue to nurture in your heart this compassion. There are also among us, both young and old, those who are disabled and disadvantaged. Let your heart reach out to them and touch them. Let them feel the joy and peace that you can bring into their lives. As you grow older, you will discover that there is no greater joy and satisfaction than helping those who are in need.
I know you love poems. Let me share with you one which has been a constant source of inspiration to me. It has made my life richer and, I hope, it would do the same for you.
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain”
Your loving Grandpa
This letter is republished with permission from the National Library Board. Letters From Grandma and Grandpa (2008) is an initiative to create opportunities for youth and seniors to strengthen ties, enhance understanding and appreciate each other. Singapore grandpas and grandmas share their stories from the past, their hopes for the future, their love from their hearts, and their values for the soul. The letters capture their thoughts and feelings on important values, such as family and heritage, respect for the elders, generosity, love, courage and responsibility.
First published on 14-02-2011.
Categories: Letters from Grandpa