I lost my Daadaji on May 21. He was 77 years old. Allah called him back in the holy month of Ramadan. It was very sudden and it has emotionally crumbled our spirits, to say the least. In Hindi, “Daadaji” refers to your paternal grandfather. My Daadaji’s name was Jamil Ahmad. Jamil in Arabic means handsome and so he was — a handsome, self-made, self-taught, respectable, caring and lovable individual. I used to call him “Daadu” and I loved him a lot. I could not attend his last rites since I am so far away from home but I did get to see him for one last time. He was lying in peace and silence. I missed his smile then, quite a lot.

Daadu started from the very bottom from a small village in Bihar, India named Nihura. He started to support his family from a tender age of 16. Back then the country was still trying to gather its resources and function properly after getting independence from the British. He was a very hardworking individual and his perseverance and hard work resulted in him getting a prestigious position in the Military Engineering Services for the Department of Defense of the Government of India. I look up to him for being able to accomplish so much at that age and at a time when the country was dealing with internal riots and a lot of disturbance.

All his life Daadu helped others in need, and not just his family and close friends but even strangers. He was a very kind man and went to great lengths to help someone. And at the same time he never expected those that he helped to ever come back and thank him. He helped them out of his own good will. While he was still serving in the Government of India, I remember he used to bring Rasmalai (a famous type of Indian sweet) for me and my sister everyday after work. We used to get overjoyed when we saw him at a distance and rushed to him to hug him when he reached home. He used to narrate to us his stories when he met Indira Gandhi, how he once ended up in a fighter jet and how he tackled some of the most tricky situations of national importance. We loved hearing his stories and were amazed at how cool he was. He used to take us for long walks and it was so much fun. He was a very family oriented person. That’s something my Dad learnt from him and I, in turn, have learnt the same from Dad. He used to joke around with his grand-children and made us laugh all the time.

I am proud of him for everything that he achieved and for his service to the country. It was his vision and dedication that led all of his children and grand-children to where they are right now. I know that he’s in a better place. I just wish I could’ve said to him how much I loved him for one last time. His legacy will be carried on.

I miss you, Daadu.