A long, long time ago there came an evening when I realised that I couldn’t see my father eye-to-eye. We had one of our fiercest fights and I had angrily declared that I was leaving his house for good! My mother tried to stop me but when has any mother in the world been able to soothe a fight between her daughter and husband? My grandmother who was having her evening conversation with her Gods had to say a hasty a quick goodbye thanks to all the ruckus! I didn’t waste time in teary goodbyes…I opened the door and crossed the courtyard. My father, as my mother told me later went back to reading his book!! With no money, no change of clothes, in a simple chappals I walked out without turning back! But as I reached the main gate, something churned inside me. I can’t put my finger on it but there was something that was holding me back. I wasn’t crying…neither was I upset…I was just angry! Perhaps I decided to cool down and think which way to go…and in that momentary slip of indecision I sat down near the gate. But peace of mind was not to be had…my mother, my grandmother, my neighbours…they came alone and then in groups…asking me to give up the fight and return home! I was still very, very angry…the man I fought with was sitting inside, under a fan and reading his book!! I sat there for more than an hour…refusing to budge…refusing to return! It was getting dark and time was running out. I had to make up my mind…to stay or leave my father’s house forever! Just then, as I was fretting over the impending darkness that I heard the door click…I looked up to see Baba walk down the two steps into the courtyard…three long strides later he was standing next to me. My mother moved away. We looked at each other for what must have been ten seconds. “Come on in” he said and I like a little puppy held out my arms…he scooped me up from the cement bench that I was sitting and carried me inside…in ten minutes we’d both forgotten our little fight and chatted up like old friends!
I was barely 5 years old. And this is my first memory of a fight that we ever had!
Today when I sometimes feign a complaint to my husband about his constant travels, pat comes his reply, “You’ll manage…after all you’re my ‘bada beta’ na! There’s nothing that you can’t do!”. I know he is right, but in my heart I know that I’ve been the ‘bada beta’ to someone else first…my father!
People tell us, both he and me that I am more like him. Not in looks, but in nature. We think alike, we agree on a lot of things and yes, we still have our minor fights! But none that have ever made me leave his house. But to hear that we are similar, makes us both swell with pride. Now I am not the ‘only’ daughter in the whole wide world who idolises her father and is attempting a flourishing post on Father’s Day…but as I near the next big phase of my life, I recall my growing up years with a lot of affection. It is my life with my parents that has shaped me…and here, the balance tilts towards my father by a large margin! 😀
He’s the one I could relate to…my mother was always my confidante, but Baba was and remains my soul friend! He taught me to be me…to stand up for what is right…to raise my voice when it’s important…to ‘never’ go down without a fight! I never give up…I don’t let the world discourage me…I don’t let the high tides scare me…I don’t say ‘I can’t’!! Being a girl, a woman, this has been the biggest lesson that he could give me…
My father is a man of few words. He loves to have his family around, but he isn’t what you’d say, an indulgent family man! He’ll ensure we’re all taken care of and then settle into his corner with his book and drink! I’d have to credit my reading skills to the man…his books and bookshelf is one legacy that he’s promised will be all mine! I wouldn’t call him a man without emotions…he has plenty of them…but he isn’t one who would thrust it on you. He’s had his own battles, his own struggles in life. He lost his father when he was all of 17. He had to make a career and quick…a few years later, he became perhaps the youngest CA of his time! His professional life has been a roller coaster of sorts. At the helm of a private limited company as the director of finance, he’s had to run the company for several months without a salary. On somedays as a kid, my mother couldn’t give me 5 bucks for a dosa in school…I knew better than to throw a fit. What held me on is my father’s perseverence. He didn’t give up.
With no money in his pocket, he’s lived like a King! We’ve traveled the length and breadth of the country, stayed in Taj’s of the world…ate the best cuisine…clicked loads of pictures for the family albums…and saw the diversity of the country first hand. My love for traveling comes from the man who gave me the best holidays ever!! A friend in need…my father has been a silent support for a lot many people that I can account for. He’s never refused anyone and has over the years worked in mysterious ways to help anyone who has been in need. He loves his faded shorts…shirts that he struggles to button up because of his expanding belly, cigarrette burnt trousers and over sized t-shirts! He has a taste for expensive scotch…addicted to his smoke…but needs his 2 pieces of mutton for dinner everyday!
As I was growing up he never checked on the books that I read, but kept a close watch on the tv I saw. So Banegi Apni Baat was a strict no-no…Friends was always allowed! My father let me have my childhood crushes and while I gushed about being in love, he said ‘time will tell’! He never took my love affair seriously but didn’t disregard it either. And then when I did fall in love for real…he believed in my judgement and allowed me to marry the man of my choice! As I stepped out of school and took up college in the big city, he kept a check on my expenses. Scolded me whenever overspent, but never took back the Amex he gave me! Later when I decided to take up a flat and live on my own, he trusted me with his heart. He helped me move and sent my mother to help me set up a house…saying, “Make sure she has everything she needs!” Mom and I took his money, went out shopping and conveniently forgot that it was his 53rd birthday! Today, he has allowed his 24 year old son to chase his dream…that to play Golf. No talk of earning a salary, no sermons about making a career, no talk of minding his own life…my father is the bravest man I have ever seen!
Baba didn’t give me lessons in parenthood. He lived them. There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary that can describe him. All I can say that I wish every father is like him…
On June 11th, he turned 60. He spent it alone…that’s because he’s expecting his first grandchild later this year! He wanted his daughter to have her mother take care of her…settling with 2 pieces of cold bread and mutton for dinner; while his son was playing another tournament in another city!
I wish my child grows up to know her / his grandpa…to understand the greatness of the man I call Baba…