An idiom for the past

Rediscovered this little treasure on my bookshelf, where it had been lying forgotten for years. This book of English idioms belonged to my maternal grandfather, who passed away in the mid-1950s, when my mother was only seven years old. He was a prisoner of war during World War 2, subsisting largely on rice husk and fish bones. The ill effects of incarceration in a Hong Kong jail eventually claimed him after he returned to Mumbai.

My mother had preserved the book and passed it on to me when I started working.

The writing – remarkably well preserved – is that of my grandfather. As you can see on the top left corner, the book cost two rupees and seven annas – not cheap in those days. The date of purchase – written on the top right corner in a combination of regular and Roman numerals – is July 25, 1948.

His neat, beautiful handwriting was passed on to my mother but sadly not to me.

My grandfather’s tale is a tragic, haunting and inspiring saga that deserves a book of its own. It’s too much to try and squeeze into a blog. Maybe, some day, I’ll write it. It’s been a dream to visit the jail site in Hong Kong – it was probably Stanley Internment Camp –  where he was kept.

Rediscovering this book made my day. I’m so thankful I’m fastidious about caring for the books I own. Now to pass this on to Sadiyah – my teenage daughter – in the condition it is in now.


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