God blessed Rev W.C David(My grand dad) with seven children and fourteen grandchildren. My name is Prason Christopher Robin and I am the fourth Grandson of W.C.David. I call him Thatha. My middle name and my Thatha’s middle name are one and the same.
My memories of Thatha dates back to the mid eighties. Thatha and Paatimma (Grandma), stayed in Chennai at that time. My parents, my sister and I stayed in Nagercoil, then. We used to go to Chennai every summer. Every summer I used to have fun at Thatha’s place. All my cousins would come to Chennai and I would have a great time. It was not the age of television and computers. The games we played then are still fresh in my memory.Paper boats, Mud castles,Running around the house,climbing trees...
I still remember the green color cycle, Thatha used. I used to play with its pedal. It has fallen on my head more than once. As a kid, I used to help Thatha wear his socks. In the evenings, I used to apply paraffin oil on his feet. Thatha had a big black mole on his spine.I used to get scared of that. Thatha used a hearing aid device. I always loved to flick his hearing aid device and play with it. It was the i-pod of the eighties.
We used to have family prayer three times in a day. As we were little kids, we used to wait for the prayer to get over, so that we could go out and play. Thatha had two basic rules for his grand children. These rules should be followed if we had to go and play. The rules were simple.
1.Memorize bible verse according to the age (i.e. if my age was 3, I was supposed to memorize three bible verses. 4=4 verses and 5= 5 verses and so on)
2.Learn a song from songs and solos.
Thatha had a strong panel of five members who used to check whether we abided by his rules. The five members were Thatha, Paatimma and their three daughters that included my mom, “Shobana” and her two sisters, “Monica and Prasanna”. The latter four were lenient and they would help me if I made any mistake while reciting the memory verses. But one could not escape from Thatha’s glare, when a biblical verse is wrongly recited. Though Thatha had a hearing problem, one cannot fool him when it comes to reciting the scripture. The initial days were easy. But as I grew older the quantum of memory verses also increased and I still remember the days when I used to see my cousins with faugh as they played outside while I memorized verses after verses everyday.
Then every day afternoon we were supposed to sleep in the hall. All the grandchildren were obedient and they used to sleep. But being the black sheep among the grandchildren, I used to sneak out through the backdoor into the farm. I had a partner in crime; my cousin, “Tabitha”. But we regularly get caught by Thatha and we end up kneeling down every evening.
Friday night family prayer is an event that I would not forget in my life. It lasts for at least two hours. Every member in the family, prays in that family prayer. The prayer chain starts from the grandchildren, battened on by the parents and then concluded by Paatimma and Thatha. By the time the prayer gets over, we “grandchildren” would be snoring.
Thatha and Paatimma used to take Sunday classes for the slum children and we used to sit along with them and listen to the scripture. Thatha was indeed God’s marionette. He used to get up as early as three in the morning and pray with Paatimma. I have seen Thatha in his Cassock a couple of times. He looked "Good".
Thatha went into God’s hushed seclusion on April12th, 1992. I remember the long bus journey we had. We reached Chennai on April13th.It was my birthday. I saw Thatha for one last time. He was dressed in his white Cassock. We all sat around his body and sang songs. Finally before the coffin was lowered into the pit, Paatimma led us all and we all said in a chorus, “The lord gave and the lord has taken away; may the name of the lord be praised”.
Fifteen years have gone by. Many a summer has come and gone. I have met my cousins a lot of times in the last fifteen years. But it’s never been the same as it used to be. I miss the memory verse recitals, the songs and solos, the Sunday classes, Friday night prayers, the games i used to play with my cousins. If not for the summers I had in the mid eighties, my Christian faith would not be as solid as it is now. I never paused to think, and debate the alternative possibilities about anything. Such things are not necessary in the black and white world that you thought, existed. It was not necessary to understand the gray, till you start missing it.I still remember Thatha’s grin. He had it even in his last days. I am sure he still has it wherever he is now.
- Prason.S @ Chriz (4th Grandson of Rev W.C David)
( Taken from the autobiography on my grandpa. All fourteen grandchildren wrote their memories of their grandpa. This is my contribution to the book)