Teddy was gone.
Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday after battling brain cancer for many months. Friend and foe remembered him as the greatest senator of his time, a liberal lion whose roar will be sorely missed.
When I was not even six yet, my father bought a painting of JFK and RFK. It was 1968 and Bobby had just been shot dead just like Jack had been years before. My father carried that painting back to India. A pastel set in a rich royal blue background. Every time we left India, it found residence at my uncle’s flat until it became a permanent fixture there.
Perhaps that painting should have included Teddy as well. The three Kennedy brothers who, as my friend Joyce pointed out tonight, Indians love to love. They were America’s political dynasty much as the Nehru-Gandhi clan was in India. And they were kind to brown people.
Whenever I am home in Kolkata, I stare at that painting that still hangs in the guest bedroom of my uncle’s Park Circus flat. I look at it and think not so much about how great a political family the Kennedys are, but of family. Period. I try to imagine the day my father bought that cheap painting. I was not there, but I wonder what propelled him that day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He made sure to always hang it next to a posterized black and white framed photograph of Mahatma Gandhi. I suppose my father admired those men. He would have said each was great in his own way.
As for me, well, I have surrounded myself with photographs of my own father. There are days when I wish he were still here, among the living. Just so we could carry on one of our myriad conversations. Because in my little world, my father was the greatest man I knew. Or ever will.