Thursday, May 24, 2012

BABUL PYARE


He turns seventy four tomorrow…!!!

But in my mind my father is always a youthful figure. Why, he used to often refer to himself as the  “boyish looking Bostonian” (a take on JFK ) during his forties. As a teen I used to find it quite funny.

My father is a unique man from his generation who was absolutely comfortable being the minority male in a family of three women.  He never felt the need to assert his authority on us . “That is only for fellows who have no identity outside of being a man” he often used to say. 

I remember my mother  telling me about how he used to help her look after me when I was a baby- giving me a bath and feeding me while she completed her work- all this before he left for office so that she did not have to deal with  this alone. When my sister came along he spent a lot of time with me so that I would not feel neglected because my mother could not pay much attention to me.  I remember, when my mother had gone for her delivery to Trichy, I had to miss almost two months of school. My parents were worried that I would fall back in academics because of that. So Appa used to diligently write out work sheets for me to solve and send them by post during a time when correspondence courses were un heard of . He also used to write very descriptive letters to me about what was going on with him while we were away – now tell me whoever said that it was just Nehru who wrote letters to his daughter? I would say that Nehru probably had all the time when he was in prison to write those letters but my father was doing it with his regular stress filled existence as a bureaucrat.  

My father’s teaching skills were excellent- nobody can explain a concept like him with clarity and patience. I guess the only thing that he gave up trying to explain to me was “Archimedes Principle” because I could never understand or solve those sums correctly. He had the ability to turn lessons into something simple and would discuss them at meal times in a fun sort of way. My math skills are strong thanks to the game that I used to play with him. It went like this- we had  to quickly add up the registration number of any vehicle that passed us while we were on the road and say whether it was odd or even. There was a sort of competition that we had as to who would say it first. This has become such a habit now that I do it almost unconsciously without even being aware of it …

When children fall ill it is their mother that they want. But in my case, strangely it was always my father that I wanted near me . When I was about five years old an insect had bitten me while I was at  school. My entire face had turned red and swollen. Our head mistress called home and within minutes my father was there to take me to a doctor. When I had a severe stomach infection in my childhood which used to result in painful cramps it was my father that I wanted near me always. And immediately after I became a mother as I was wheeled into a  room from the labour ward it was my father  who was there to feed me breakfast with his hands as I was very hungry and too tiered to feed myself. It is probably the most special moment that I have had with him in my adult life!

A man with a great sense of humour he always tried to understand us and relate to us when we were teens. He used to ring the bell in the evenings when he returned from work and when we opened the door after putting on the safety chain he used to thrust his hand through the crack pretending it was a gun he was holding! Ofcourse, he  used to get into trouble if it  was my mother who happened to  answer the door ..

His attempts at Hindi always had us in splits!  Many of my neighbor and friends from childhood still remember many of his antics. Completely uncomfortable with technology his impatience is a sight to watch! He still has not forgiven me for taking away his old Nokia phone from the ice age times!!

Over the years as he has grown into a grand father, he did not really change. My daughter while she was a baby used to constantly yell for “Thatha” and he was her willing slave. They used to play this odd game when she was two – she used to call out “Ganesha” and he had to say “Yes Aunty”! I have never understood what it was all about.

As a teen my daughter finds her grand father most amusing! She spent about ten days with my parents and was full of stories about her “crazy” grand dad. She respects her grand mom as an elder but “Thatha” to her still someone who is a child .

With the passing years, I am seeing the child in him appearing lesser. The elderly man comes out more these days.. A man who is trying to be “ his age” –something that simply does not suit him.

 But that child in him comes out every now and then at the most unexpected times.

Like, when he upsets his wife’s routine by getting in her way and then tries to pacify her by saying “ Collect all your tension in bottle through the day and then you can pour it on my head in the evening” ( narrated with a lot of giggles by his grand daughter who was witness to this “drama”). Or when he calls up his beloved grand daughter at 6.00 AM on a Sunday morning wanting to know why she had left her shampoo behind in the fridge. When she tells him  that what he thought was shampoo was actually cheese sauce he says “Thank god, I was going to give it your Pati to wash her hair”.. Or when he cut his birthday cake last year and fed himself the biggest chunk without offering a piece to either his wife, grand daughter or daughter ..! “Why don’t you people help yourselves?” was his answer when my mother mentioned it.

I guess it is unfair to expect parents to stay static on their age trajectory just so we can hold on to our childhood memories of them. Thinking back I realize that he taught me more than maths and physics, he taught me values, he taught me principles and most importantly he taught me what being a good parent was all about .

I am supposed to be mirror image of him in every way . I have inherited his looks, his impatience, his ailments but I don’t think I have inherited any of his brilliant parenting skills!  Skills that can help bring out a best seller were he to write a “how to” book on parenting.

I guess I am biased when I say this but I have  the best father in this world – my daughter disagrees because she says her father is the best. But when she challenges me saying that her  grand father cannot compete with mine I can only humbly agree!

18 comments:

KParthasarathi said...

Best wishes for his happy birthday.Many happy returns of the day.A glowing tribute in your inimitable style bringing out the pleasant traits in him and how he has been a strong influence on you.You are lucky to have a dad like him.

Rahul Bhatia said...

A very sweet post, Meera. An ode to the father from a doting daughter!Wishing him many happy returns of the day:)

Christopher said...

A fine tribute to a great father. As usual, insightful and touching. You should encourage him to blog about his railways experiences. I am sure there will be many like me who would love to know the insider's perspective. Wish him a happy birthday for me.

sunil deepak said...

Beautiful portrait. Best wishes to your father

Bikramjit said...

Wishing your dad a very Happy birthday many many happy returns of the day to him. Please do extend my regards.

He is a gem of a person and thank you for introducing us also to him ...

Meera Sundararajan said...

Thank you all for the wishes. I will pass it on to him. Yes he is a gem of a person even though I say so myself :)

Jack said...

Meera,

Kindly convey MANY MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY TO HIM. Wish I could send a card for him. He is little less than 7 years ahead of me. He really brought you up so well imbibing many values. May God bless him.

Take care

anilkurup said...

That is loving tribute to a father.
As for the Archemdise principle, perhaps, that was the only theory in physics that I could understand.

Well I cannot but bow my head for this fascinating thanks giving, appreciation and expression of love to a father. Hope all children are like you. may he live long, in good health and in peace.
You are fortunate.

Irfanuddin said...

My best wishes for him, plz convey my regards to him.....and i liked that title of the post very much..."BABUL PYARE".....:))

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Anil all that I could remember about Archimedes was that he ran out on the road without his clothes.. it used to exasperate my dad that I did not seem to grasp anything else. You are obviously more intelligent

Thanks Irfan- seeing you again after a long time here. I like the title too.

specs buffy said...

A very true to the letter tribute to a father and I could see ample reflections of the kind in my life too.Dad was and is my first Guru(i have mentioned this fact in my intro to the blog too), a man who is patient, steadfast and above all a wonderful teacher! I can never forget his first math lesson for me as a toddler which went like this- "rendu vayasu ponnu ki rendu kannu na moonu vayasu ponnuke ethana kannu"? and pat came the answer as "moonu"!
The English lessons were indeed a marvel as he deftly weaved through Wren an Martin adroitly !
We went to my maternal hometown Mumbai every summer vacation and dad always stayed behind due to his accounts closing time at office during April and May - he was left high and dry on the cooking front but still managed to make rotis coming out in shapes of different countries with salad ,which he relished and never complained. On hindsight I feel it was a miserable thing on our side to leave him fending for himself!
I am sorry to use your comments space as a platform for my special relationship with my dad!
Lovely portrayal of a father,Meera

Meera Sundararajan said...

Specs buffy welcome to the doting daughters club!! Fathers are special and I am glad you had an equally nice father- I never tire of hearing about them!

Rhapsody B. said...

NAMASTE....
Sounds like my definition of a true man and a magnificent father.

Blessings to him and your family. You are all blessed.

Rhapsody

Creative Space said...

A very cute post for our love - our father :)))Great job....

jkhona said...

after a long time landed on your page today and could read three of yours! good that you had this kinda dad and the best part is - "Or when he cut his birthday cake last year and fed himself the biggest chunk without offering a piece to either his wife, grand daughter or daughter ..! “Why don’t you people help yourselves?” was his answer when my mother mentioned it." funny!!! :)

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

Belated but real big wishes to your Dad, Meera. Going by how you have described him, it must have been interesting to watch his reaction to this amazing post. Interesting how fellow bloggers and their loved ones grow into becoming part of one's extended family. Loved the anecdotes about your Babul Pyare.

Jack said...

Meera,

It has crossed 45 here. There was light rain last evening and even today dark clouds are giving hope of another downpour. I agree with you that we get used to comforts without realizing it. When my wife is away I switch on Ac only at night before going to bed and very seldom in the afternoons. While driving I do use it as it is very hot and adversely affects driving.

Take care

Take care

anindita said...

Many Happy Returns of the day to your Babul Pyare and I pray to God for his long and healthy life.

What a touching way of offering ones gratidude and expressing love for dad..

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