I was half asleep until half an hour ago, that in between state of sleep and wakefulness. When my mind stirred and the thoughts started warming up although my eyes stayed firmly shut and body remained still and limp with sleep. But a thought crept in, about Father’s Day and that I should have bought a present for my dad. Should have sent a little surprise perhaps? I’m the only member in my family who believes in them. The others are shockingly bad with surprises or spontaneity.
Instead I decided to write this post, not because I will publish it and my father via Facebook will like it and so will my extended family. No. My dad’s mercifully not on Facebook and my sisters aren’t very savvy either. This note is just a recognition. Mother’s shouldn’t be celebrated over a day, it’s a lifelong gratitude. You say the word mother and it warms the cockles of your heart. They are just as sacrificing now then they were before. But our fathers, deserve a special mention today simply because they’ve stopped making men like them.
We’ve all heard that term before. Our rich history with selfless visionaries can’t be compared to the current crop of pathetic politicians. The thieving ministers and thugs that are elected to lead us. We get melancholic listening to Kishore Kumar, RD Burman or Dylan. Plenty of good talent now but hardly exceptional. Actors like Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwod, Richard Gere, Amitabh Bachchan. They were men not boys.
Our fathers were our teachers, our handymen, our accountants, our drivers, our mechanics and our doctors. They were everything rolled into one without making it seem like it was extraordinary. That generation of men lived a disciplined life. I wonder if our fathers ever slept in, nursed a hangover or chilled at home. It seems to me they were up before the alarm went off even in their twenties.
My father was born in a small village in UP and given his background I think it’s remarkable the life he’s made for himself and the life he provided us. He does manage to surprise us sometimes with his choices. Like moving to Goa or painting his scooter a bright canary yellow. The head of the family was ahead of his times.
My father pressed his own clothes as well as ours. He is never too busy for us. Recently an old childhood friend who I lost touch over the years added me on Facebook and told me how grateful he was that my dad helped him with his practical exams. I had no idea that they had such an arrangement. In the evenings my father turned part teacher part monster. Let’s just say Maths was never my strong point. It never quite added up in my head.
On the weekends too he works with clockwork regularity. Washing the scooter and the car. Cleaning the blades of all the fans, dusting and finishing other domestic duties. They were fixers. Whereas the guys I now meet have to be told, gently persuaded, reminded, begged and yelled at until they get-up from the couch or look up from the TV or an iPhone etc. Then they have the audacity to call us nags.
Being domesticated didn’t mean that they weren’t worldly and wise. He can engage in a discussion about history, politics, science and is more knowledgeable than most guys I know.
My neighbour recalls how dad would yell at anybody trying to steal mangoes from her tree. My father and mangoes are not to be messed with. This summer his voice on the phone was almost deliriously happy because he had received his first batch of mangoes. What I admire is this conscientious attitude. Nowadays who gives a damn about what’s happening in your neighbours life?
Now that he’s retired he’s still equally busy. The red tapism in India keeps him suitably busy and largely frustrated. During one his walks, he noticed a pipe was leaking and of course my chagrined father went to the local MLA to tell him a thing or two about wasting water.
He’s a Doer. He’s the ideal candidate for a Power of Attorney. My sister entrusts him with her investments. He walks over to her house and attends to her garden. He recently fixed her washing machine using an old vegetable tray. On another occasion my sister was complaining that her sunglasses have become loose so my father used a hair dryer to heat the plastic until it worked. We would have purchased another pair. We’re the infamous use and throw generation. My dad on the other hand was from the mend and save generation.
When any of us have a work related problem, my dad always assures us by saying ‘Don’t worry about losing a job. I can’t provide you with the luxuries you’re used to but I can still take care of my children’s necessities’
My intention here is not to extol about my dad. It’s just a salute to our dads. The rare breed of men who make it all possible. One might argue that they were not hands-on daddies like we find today and I agree. But life is all about trade offs. The relationship with my father wasn’t based on friendship. Papa wasn’t playful but was respected. Feared more than he was loved.
Sadly he is also taken for granted. Until now.