Foreword from Piya Mukherjee : This story comes to us from the most unexpected corners. This is a story about two very important men in my personal life. I cannot help but publish this today as part of our childhood memory series. This is a story about the memories of one of those men and the reflection of the other’s. This is a story about a father who had told me once that he was unsure about how his sons would remember him after he is gone. Today I just wish he had stayed on to read this.
The story raises an unusual question. As a parent are you just being a parent or are you letting your children know more than that about the real you. Will they remember you just as an exceptional parent or the complete person. The person who you are.
Family is one of the greatest assets for all of us and still sometimes the amount of time we invest in knowing each other within the family is not justified. Needless to say we at times take for granted the closest of the people we know.
Few years back we were at a family ceremony where along with a lot of relatives I met one person who had known my dad and mom from their younger times. She narrated some incidents/events from their courtship period which reflected a side of my dad’s personality that we were not used to seeing or experiencing. I was excited and heard all the stories like a 5 year old. But sadly all this came with such mixed sentiments as my dad had already left us by then. And we felt there was so much about our dad that we didn’t know and we failed to find out. We felt incomplete. And will probably will have to live with it for the rest of our lives.
That day I heard stories about my dad which he never shared with us. And it was all about the small things, things that he did when he met my mother and the small plans he would make to meet my mother. Back then courtship was not very prevalent in India. The fun side to him. His ability to tell an impromptu joke or find humor in the simplest things in life. As I listened, I wished he was more open in sharing those stories with us.
Because my memories of him are very different. My memories are of a different kind of a person.
My memories of him ever since I can think of is seeing him working hard to provide for us. He was the most selfless person that I have known while growing up. He was always there for us, his siblings, the extended family and everybody he knew. In the times that we grew up, it was rare for both parents to be working. But dad supported the idea and let my mom have her own career. This also meant that he doubled up as our mom when she was not around. He packed our lunches, served breakfast and hurried us to school every single morning. And only he could do justice to the gajar-ka-halwa (carrot halwa) that he made during winters. Cooking rather became his passion.That was the thing about him. He found ways to do everything effortlessly and happily and find a meaning in them.
On Sundays, he would play old bollywood songs on the cassette player and sing along with it. He was a good singer, a thing about him I am happy we knew. The same songs played every Sunday. The same songs play in the car, on my ipad even today as a lingering memory of my father. My association to those songs is not the lyrics, not in the music, my association is with my father.
But that is pretty much what I know about him which seemed so little after listening to others that day. The years of hard work and responsibilities had robbed him of the jovial, humorous and the fun side to him. With time he had transformed into a different person. He expressed less. He expected even less. He demanded nothing.
In retrospect, this would not have happened if he had shared more about him (not just the dad side of him) with us. This would not have happened if I had spent more time with him. This would not have happened if we as a family did not get so caught up in the works of life.This would not have happened if in my growing up years I was not so lost in doing just my own things. A regret of a lifetime.
Be who you are. Being a parent changes a lot of things, I know that firsthand. But being a parent should not stop you from being who you are. Make your children part of who you are. Help them build that association. After all you have worked hard all your life to be the person you are and they should know about it. I want my children to remember me for the dad that I am but also for who I am.
Photo Credit And Story Credit : Vipin Kalra. His first time writing for the Chatoveracuppa blog.