My Grandfather, My Thatha

I was the only American grandchild of my grandfather. My cousins and I called him Thatha, the Tamil meaning of grandfather. Unlike my other cousins, who were all in India, I was eight thousand miles away in the United States. My family only visited India once every two or three years. Therefore, I probably only saw Thatha about ten or so times. Despite the dearth of visits, some of these memories are vivid. One such memory was visiting India when I was around eight years old. One thing that I always found interesting about Thatha was his past as a politician and chairman of the local city. As a curious little kid, I tried to delve deeper into Tamil Nadu politics, asking my parents about the different parties. Thatha was part of DMK. The opposition party was ADMK. As the troublemaker I always was (and still am), I feigned appreciation and support for ADMK in all possible ways. During car rides, I would open the window and yell “ADMK!“ and display the party's physical symbol, which was sticking out two fingers like a peace sign; the sign for DMK was all five fingers like a high-five. I was doing this constantly throughout this visit. Inevitably, my trip was coming to an end, and I had to leave back on my flight to the US. Thatha accompanied me to the airport to say a final goodbye until the next visit. Playing along with the previous banter, Thatha put up the two-fingered peace sign. Instead of reciprocating the ADMK sign back, I stuck out the five-fingered high-five, not really to show support for his party but to show support for him. Thatha then came up to me and gave me a final hug, and kissed me on the cheek before I finally left. He appreciated something I didn’t realize at the time as a little boy. Loyalty to family, above all else, is the most important.