He was six feet tall, and she was a tiny two feet. At precisely four pm every afternoon, after their siesta, the pair would leave our home. The grandfather and his three-year old granddaughter.
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He would wear a cap to protect himself from the afternoon sun, she would carry a water bottle slung across her shoulder, her mushroom cut gently bobbing up and down.
Soon, they would go exploring the complex. The grandfather would patiently point out ants, beetles, insects and plants. He would share anecdotes from his childhood, and relate it to the plants or birds that he pointed out to his granddaughter.
They would observe neighbours’ pets, and talk to other children. Playtime for this little girl would come later in the evening, but this walk with her grandpa was sacrosanct. They would stroll to the neighbourhood market to pick up vegetables or fruits for the house. The grandfather would indulge his little princess with chocolate or cake from the local bakery.
After about an hour of this, they would walk home, each revelling in the company of the other.
Back home, the pair would play board games and jigsaws, and read books. Before their walk, the grandfather would patiently prepare a small cup of dry fruits – almonds, pistachios, dates and cashew nuts, which the little girl would eat with relish.
The granddaughter grew into a school girl, and moved away to another city, but telephone calls and video chats kept this very special bond alive.
Where once the grandfather taught his granddaughter many, many interesting things, it was now the granddaughter’s turn to teach and welcome her grandpa into the world of smartphones and computers.
They would exchange calls frequently, and they would laugh at silly things. She would regale him with stories of her high-school life and her studies. He would always ask about her future plans.
And now she stands, looking at his empty bed, knowing that one of her best allies has gone – the person who rooted for her all through, who showed her unconditional love, and to whom she was always a princess.
She has brought back one of his caps and has placed it on her study table – a symbol of the love they shared – my daughter and her grandfather.