A Grandfather I wish I had known better

St. Paul, Minnesota circa 1975

Papa’s father–my Dada (Dtha-Dtha) came to visit us from India. He was an amazing character and I could not take my eyes off his pure white hair, beard and mustache. He had incredibly strong, classic features and best of all he always wore a long black Nehru styled achkan over cotton, white salwar bottoms that looked much like modern day leggings. Papa and Dada spent hours, debating, discussing and arguing over the Bible, Islam, politics, science and theology. Dada told us stories of his incredible and often dangerous life in India. It was better than any movie and he used beautiful poetic Urdu words. Every day he walked for two or three miles. He was already 88 years old, but he walked like a young man, his pace quick and his steps sure. His presence was so big, I couldn’t help but be a little frightened of him. I was in constant awe of my remarkable Dada.

I wish I had a chance to talk to him and to know him better. I imagine he would have much to add to the posts about our family. Even though I only met him a few times his influence in my life was great. At age 18, my Dada changed the entire trajectory of his and my life by leaving his faith of Islam behind and beginning a new life in Punjab, India as a pastor. He was a courageous and incredibly strong man. I am inspired and grateful for his legacy. 

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