I realize and acknowledge the silent contribution of my parents in shaping me to make me what I am today.
Today is Father’s Day and this is the first time I felt that I should pen down my thoughts on such an emotional subject. When I was young I used to be a rebellious child, not in a wrong sense, but in that I always used to venture into areas or explore things that were far away from what most of the normal children of my age were supposed to be doing. My father (Baba, as we used to call him) was in-charge of most of the decision making in the family and at home beside my mom and my elder siblings. But my mom (Maa, as we usually call our mothers in India) used to have lots of say in many a things so I used to find my way with my dad with the help of my father and my sisters. Being the youngest has its own unstated advantages! I realize now that my father always met the needs and wants and small desires of all of us in the family. During Diwali festival, I wanted the most ear-deafening bombs and the latest and advanced crackers costing more than what I presumed we could afford, but my dad had his own way of rationing and budgeting the expenses. He bought crackers while on his way back home from office, and he used to start buying crackers about a week before the actual Diwali day, so by the time the festival date arrived, I found we had much more stock of crackers than what I could have imagined. He had his own way of keeping all of us happy with small things that mattered but which could have gone unnoticed to others.
My father was the only bread earner in our family of seven, and with a government job, it had been a challenging yet not so difficult time to keep everyone satisfied with the basic needs and wants. In the 70s and 80s when we were growing up, there were no such desires that could be said to be wild or crazy or unaffordable, but we all had dreams to grow fast and do well in academics, earn a good professional degree, and see the beautiful world. Only as late as in mid-80s after passing my Class Xth (Senior secondary exam) did I start thinking of what line of career options out of so many emerging ones would I be pursuing. My father wanted me to get into Civil Services and become a bureaucrat but I had my own wild and crazy ideas being a Sagittarius and which I never disclosed much to anyone. But things changed and I did complete my graduation in engineering as this was the minimum that was expected of me, being in a family and relatives of more than 10 odd engineers, including my dad and elder brother.
But my father never really much intervened in what I wanted to do beside academics, more so he actually inculcated some great habits which to this day I am being thankful to him. One of them is reading. Actually I picked this passion by seeing his own collection of books, and to this date I am a voracious reader. It has actually shaped my thinking and has helped me think and analyze things deeply. He always used to say that whatever subject I found my interests in, I should master my knowledge and understanding of that particular topic of subject, and this has been so ingrained as a habit that even today I would go on searching deep into google and other platforms to get a sufficient idea and adequate information on a topic and would not leave until satisfied.
As I grew further and got into doing a job, he was always keen to know what was the job profile and what skills and competencies were needed to perform my job. It was his interest to know not that he wanted to counsel me or advise me. Even today, I never get stressed or frustrated or depressed if I am passing through a lean patch, because my father and even my mom always taught me and our siblings to think about the challenges and to find a solution through right analysis and consultation. So working around a problem to find a way is something deeply ingrained as a trait or a quality. And yes, the biggest thing he taught us was to adapt, that all days would not be same and comfortable, and that we should be always willing to adapt without getting flustered. My father had seen challenging days and he always told stories of his childhood how his mom (my Dadi, the grandmother) helped him get permission to go on for his graduation in engineering, at a time when he was needed by my grandfather and others in family to contribute to agriculture and farming to earn livelihood. Education is thus the only way, the only weapon to change the world, by changing our own mindset and changing the society in which we live. No better example for all of us in family to grasp this. So nothing deters me to this day whatever I am doing and wherever I am, under any circumstances.
I have had my share of his anger too at times, when he thought I had kind of blundered, but such moments were temporary. He would soon be back with his usual advice and encouragement and to urge me to rethink and relearn.
We have a son, inquisitive, sporty, and possessing a brilliant mind. I encourage him to read and collect right information and knowledge to sharpen his thought process. We have provided him with the right information and guidance to take his own decision. So that he doesn’t have a regret. We step in only when we feel he is actually trying to copy others and taking a wrong decision for himself, and such occasion have been rare to his day. He has fortunately lived in much better economic condition than what I had, so we have to be careful that he doesn’t lose out on the precious life values and lessons that shape a man to become a worthy contributor to the betterment of this world, and until now I believe we have been successful as parents to deliver things rightly and appropriately. I have always taught him to give back before he seeks. Future will tell how he has imbibed this lesson. Another quality that we have passed on to our son is what my father greatly stressed on, and that is to respect every human being irrespective of what profession and what work he or she is engaged in. And to value time, our own time and that of others.
My father died a peaceful death and he kissed me minutes before he took his last breath. What a moment that was! Firmly etched in my memories, and gives my soul a life whenever I recall that moment. That was the affirmation, I guess, to me from him that I have done reasonably well. Till the last moment he was taking the decisions at home. He was fully alive, even though he had been paralytic on one side of his body (hemiplegia) for almost 16 years, but he had adapted to write with his left hand and used to do all Bank related communication and other writing work himself. My mother was his weakness and thus a source of strength, and he passed away within 20 days of passing away of my mother, who had been a pillar of support for the whole family.
Many a times, I have felt that I haven’t been able to look after him and my mother in the last 5-10 years of their lives, that I could have done better as a son, but I am not sure how I could ever get over this and how would I ever repay my debts, but I guess the only way I can satisfy their souls is by becoming an even better man for the family and for the society.
That I do not ever have to feel low and disheartened by anything that comes our way has been the message and learning to us all. Learning should never stop!