Long back when I was five years old, my grandpa though a physicist had told me that when people die, they become stars in the sky, and someday he would be too. All I must do is look at the sky and find him. I spent most of my childhood in my grandparents' house because both my parents were working and were not always home. My grandpa spent hours talking to me and the rest of the time I spent reading in his library full of books. He was fond of both Physics and Literature, I found out later in life that I was too.
Let me tell you a bit more about him first. My grandpa came from a humble background, his village was also quite ordinary, but he was an exceptional student. He went ahead to graduate in Physics, not Engineering, partly because he liked Physics and partly because he couldn't afford Engineering. He happens to be a gold medalist in BSC. and MSC. from Ravenshaw University, Cuttack. Most importantly he is the man who let go job offers after completing his post-doctorate in Canada and returned to India to make a change. He went ahead to write Physics college textbooks, Science fiction, Science books, essays, stories for children and was editor of first Science magazine in Odia. For me, however, he was my grandpa who could always tell me stories and whom I could ask for any advice pertaining to the situations in my life. Therefore, if somebody from my past would ever ask me, "Who inspired you to be the 'New You'?", I would give all credits to my grandpa.
My grandpa is the first person who taught me the joy of giving. He believed in giving back to society and used to sponsor education for his students who couldn't afford to do so. At school I was involved in several extracurricular activities, one of them was debating. In my final year of school, that is class tenth I was awarded a cash prize for winning an inter-school debate competition. That was my first cash prize and I proudly called my grandpa to tell him about it. He just replied that I must spend it wisely and for noble causes. Later I used a fair amount of my cash prize to fund my classmate's cancer treatment. Unfortunately, he didn't live, but at least his parents didn't have to live with the guilt that they couldn't raise funds. My school had also helped them out with all our support. I think when you give, you don't help others you actually help yourself and am sure my grandpa had understood this long back.
Some of my close friends know that I become a scary version of myself when I lose my temper. This used to happen frequently when I was younger. I was angry all the time with my parents, friends, and some of my naughty cousins. One fine day my grandpa sat me down and explained to me that anger was not the solution. He advised me to have more patience and perseverance and narrated stories from his own life about how anger had only complicated things. He also mentioned to me that I should find sixty minutes for myself at the end of each day and retrospect about my life, what I did, and what I could have done differently had I not been angry. I gradually did find this helpful and even today try to do the same.
Like I said my grandpa had a huge library, he was the one who inspired me to read more and write with precision. When I was in engineering, I borrowed Stephen Hawking's 'Brief History of time' from him. Of course, due to studies and campus recruitment, I couldn't read it thoroughly but had some good glances at it and liked it. So, when I got my first salary, I gifted him another book of Hawking's, 'Blackhole and baby universes'. In 2013 when my grandpa passed away and his table was being cleaned, I found the book lying there. I opened it and saw that he had underlined and read till the end. The first page no doubt had my dedication to him, "I owe you a lot".
A few days back it had rained at night and I looked out of the window. At 11 pm I could see a million stars in the night sky. It was then it struck me that perhaps my grandpa was right. You see I had read that some stars are light-years away. So, I looked at a faint star in the sky. In its light, maybe I was still a child, my grandpa was still alive, and he was telling me that people become stars when they die, and someday, he would be too. All I had to do was look up at the night sky.