Grandfather's prized possessions

Grandfather's prized possessions


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Many years back, when my grandfather had a hip bone replacement, he was advised to use a cane by the doctor. The surgery went through without any complication, but the choice of the cane was as difficult as finding the right bride. My grandfather would not settle for any piece of wood. He demanded a cane with ivory inlay. This set the people in my house scampering to meet his demand. grandfather's wish was fulfilled, and the ivory cane became a precious possession.

A few weeks later, his leg showed a lot of improvement and soon he began to take a few steps independently. This did not deter him from making his next demand for a new walking stick made of mahogany with a silver handle. Annoyed with his new demand, the entire family sat together to find an escape from this purchase. As we could not find a plausible excuse, the order was placed and the majestic stick made its way into the house. A few months down the line, when his balance returned, he came up to us with his next requirement, an ebony stick with a handle made of brass, shaped like a deer. This propelled the household into yet another debate.

If Gandhi could use merely a wooden staff to walk his way through Gujarat to Dandi, why did grandfather who sat at home all day, require such fancy canes? Both young and old were engaged in a heated debate. The family stood divided between the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ verdict. And finally, on his birthday, we came together to gift him the third collectable.

He held it with a great sense of pride and thanked us, and stored it in his cupboard. He was overjoyed to look at his prized possessions, he had an array of beautiful canes fashionably adorning his cupboard, but he used none while walking! He would instead use them for weddings, get-togethers, meetings and for special outings with the family, carefully choosing his walking stick to suit the occasion.

It is almost a decade now since my grandfather passed away. While flipping through the pages of an album, I could vividly recall the drama and debate that ensued before the canes were purchased. For grandfather, they meant something more. They were symbols of pride, stature, identity. The pride with which he held each one of them was evident.

A cane is no longer just a tool of temporary support or medical help, but it is something more. It is a symbol of personal identity. The reason for using a cane may vary depending on who the user is — if he or she is a shepherd, or Churchill, Gandhi or my grandfather. They all serve different purposes, each no less important than the other!