Monday, December 15, 2008

M L M AbooSally

We are what we are, because of Appa

M. L. M. Aboosally

When I sat down to write an appreciation of my beloved grandfather M. L. M. Aboosally, who was like a father to me, I had to think hard: Where should I begin? How would I give a perspective on someone I looked up to and miss so much?

Most people feel a great sadness at the loss of a loved one, but I think Appa would have been disappointed if we felt the same over his death. He left us with many happy memories that we can reflect upon with a smile.

As a child, I was fascinated by his strong work ethic. I would watch him sift through document after document, while always finding time for the people of his electorate. I would crouch under his desk to hide from my nanny, and he would give me paper and crayons to play with. He was always on my side. This was something I truly appreciated.

My first job for Grandfather was to count all the coins inside a dusty, old sack twice my size. I counted up to Rs. 50, and he let me keep the coins. That was a lot of money for a five-year-old.
It was Grandfather who got me started with my reading. My first book was Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty”, which belonged to the family library. After reading that book, I never looked back. I made it my mission to get through all the books in the library. Grandfather made sure I had appropriate reading materials. We had an archive of magazines, “Time”, “Reader’s Digest” and “National Geographic”. The last book he gave me was a book on international law.

Growing up, I did not get to see a lot of grandfather, apart from the few minutes I would spend after school on the swings at my grandparents’ home. He would also drop by for tea.

Grandfather was something of an enigma. He had an unwavering focus in serving the country. Because he was always in Parliament or at the family estate, there were long spells when I hardly ever sat down with him to have a proper conversation. Perhaps to compensate, he would write me letters and ask how I was doing, and what books he should bring me.

After I finished my Advanced Levels, I went to live for a while with my grandparents on their estate in Balangoda. We would take long walks through winding paths, past tea bushes and paddy fields. We would visit all the people who worked on the estate.

At home, we would lie on the sofa after lunch with a bag of M&Ms on our laps and watch BBC television for hours on end. Dinner would not be complete without Grandfather teasing me about my decision to become a vegetarian. His main concern was that I was not getting enough nutrition.

As a politician and Member of Parliament holding a wide range of portfolios, Grandfather was a lot of things to many people, but to me he was just Appa.

Although he is not with us any more, he continues to live on in all of us. We, his grandchildren, are who we are today because of our grandfather, and because of what he instilled in us.
Looking back, I realise the magnitude of Appa’s legacy. He made a huge difference in all our lives.

Anisha Niyas

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