And what a pioneer Dad was.
He was the first person from our village to come to the West.
He was one of the first to open an Indian Grocery store in London.
He was one of the first to deliver Indian grocery door to door- 40 years before Tesco!
As a result of Dad’s pioneering ways – we, who followed can enjoy the fruits of his labour.
One of his friends told me – when others were out to having a great time, your dad was doing overtime! He was never afraid of hard work.
Born into poverty, his childhood was happy, but times were difficult, and the chores were hard. Whatever there was, had to feed nine mouths.
Dad did not want us to go through what he had to go through. Dad was old School.
Dad wanted us to have an education, which he did not have. He did not want us to suffer hardships ,that he had to suffer. He wanted us to have a quality of life, that was not possible to get in India.
Dad was brave, gutsy and adventurous. A fortune teller told my grandmother , that her youngest son , would travel in cars and fly in planes, after that there was no stopping him. His courageous adventure began 18th August 1954, and ended last Monday, 22nd October 2012.
His heart just stopped, and he passed away peacefully in his sleep. He had achieved far more during his life than could have been expected or we could have asked for.
To us he was Dad. To many he was Mamma (maternal uncle). Anyone who came to London in the late 50’s and early 60’s would know that a warm welcome was always guaranteed at Mamma’s house and he would always put them up.
A call from a dear friend this week, told me what many felt-“Mamma did a lot for me”.
Despite having no formal education, Dad’s achievements were many. He could not read English, but he bought his first house in 1957.
He loved to read and I recall he sat his English O level exam when he was in his forties!
Dad was proud of his family and also what his two grandsons had achieved.
I think that in some way this made him feel that his hard work had been worthwhile and that his job was done.
One final note, as we leave this life to go to the next, it is not what we take with us but what we leave behind, for which we will be remembered, and for me Dad’s legacy to us is that, “just because it’s not been done before, it does not mean it cannot be done”.
Kantilal Maganbhai Patel.