What does it mean to "Protect"? Is it the shell that covers the embryo chick...or the fierceness of a lioness for her cub? Maybe its the way we snatch our fingers away from the flame....or the way one takes the bullet for another. I never knew what this word meant until one summer evening...when I was only a child...maybe around 5 years old.
As I walked to the sweet shop to eat jalebi while holding my grandfather's finger...he unintentionally taught me the greatest lesson in life. On a narrow and busy two way street of a crowded Delhi road...we both walked slowly to our favorite hangout as the orange sun began to descend. I was walking on the side towards to the road and not the sidewalk...grandpa took hold of my hand and moved me towards the inside ...closer to the sidewalk... away from the road...and said "bacche andar ke taraf chalte hain"...and that was it. He looked straight ahead and continued to walk...even as I looked up at his fragile body and his graceful face...not paying attention to the traffic around me.
With those six simple words, he had implanted in me a thought...a feeling...a role....which would become a part of my identity. He unknowingly taught me how to protect. The older soul protecting the infant for it believes that the child has more life to see. The young life is more important than the old fragile body...which has lived through its years. What captured my mind at that moment was the look on his face...he was fearless. He didn't care if a vehicle came and hit him...all he cared for was that I would be protected...even if it meant putting his own life on the line.
I've come to do the same...keeping my younger siblings and sister on the inside while walking on the road. This feeling of being protective...of being a protector...a guardian...gives a man a unique strength which no other act can. This protection does not restrict...or hold...or constrain the one being protected...it actually frees them. A friend once told me when I did the same with her while walking down a road in the middle of the night...."Akash... you are very protective"...with a smile on her face. At that moment I remembered my grandpa...just like I am remembering him now.
Thank you Grandpa...I miss you.