It has been quite some time since I have been thinking about this. Isn’t it amazing, how age changes a person? I keep ruminating on this phenomenon every time I visit my parents. Every time I meet my father.
My father was the strictest father I must have seen in my childhood. To say that I was scared of him, would be an understatement! I was petrified of him! He was not the kind of fathers I see these days — the kind who play with their kids, mount their kids on their shoulders and take them around town, or joke with their kids, play rough and tumble, or tell stories to. He was the kind who liked to see his kids well behaved at all times, and for that would not think twice before raising his hand. Now, I don’t mean to demean him in any way. It is just how he was, back then, as I saw him through my innocent and scared eyes.
I remember, he would help me with mathematics — a dreaded subject for the faint-hearted me! We had a black board mounted on a wall in my room, on which he would give me equations to be solved in a given span of time. I would somehow manage to finish the work and would then call out to him in a feeble voice to come and take a look at it. He would come over, keep staring at the black board, and all the while my heart would keep thumping in my chest, waiting for the verdict. If the sum was incorrect, he would say in the coldest tone ever, “Absolutely wrong!” That was enough for me to pray for divine intervention! And if, by the grace of the Almighty, I got the sum correct, then just a “Hmm” would follow a thin smile and then the next sum would be given to be solved. How I dreaded my school days!
But, as I became a big girl, joined college, the stern dictator changed colours! He, now, was my ‘friend’. One who indulged my every whim and fancy, much to the chagrin of my mother, who now had taken up the baton of strictness. After all, I was a young girl, who would go sailing on the clouds if not held firmly down to the ground!
As the years passed and I grew up, got married, father changed completely. I saw a 360 degree turn in his demeanour! Now, a senior citizen in his 70s, he seems to have become a lot gentler. And, also very sentimental. Whenever I regale him with the tales of Chikoo, his eyes moisten and all I can do is hug him tight and reprimand him for being such a sissy! Yeah, I know, he is not being a sissy — he can never be one. He is just being emotional, being at the age that he is.
There are times when I have to admonish him for being careless. At 75 plus, he is not supposed to be zooming around on his two-wheeler, now, is he? He is supposed to be taking care of his health, watch his blood pressure and keep fit — physically and mentally — isn’t he?
There also are times, when I need to be the strict one, whenever he gets all sorts of negative thoughts in his mind — which is no longer as busy as it used to be many years ago. And, there are days, when I need to remind him that he is not a 17 year old young man, but an old man who needs to be careful. So what if he hasn’t greyed as much, or needs no walking stick!
Now, as I sit here, writing about him, my heart goes out to that gentleman, who scared the life out of me when I was a little girl. But, however he may have been back then, he was my hero. He IS my hero. A fearless man, who cared a damn about the communal riots and the bomb explosions that took place near his place of work; who faced a lathi charge with his head held high (when he knew he was doing right); who single-handedly managed an entire printing press and the workers and their union, and who, in spite of getting knocked off his vehicle, gave a good piece of his mind to the wrong- doer, and, who cried like a baby on the day of my wedding.
These are just some of the incidents that I can recollect at this very moment; my mind is all hazy and my eyes are all moist, as I type out this post about dad, for dad.
My dear loving dad.
Dad, now I know what you are going to do. You will cry a bucketful after you read this post and then give me a good scolding after you read this last line below!
Thank you, dad. Thank you for everything!