Foreword by Soumi Haldar: This Father’s Day weekend we were very happy as the families were together after a long time. The children were having a blast with the fathers. And we had an abundance of stories for Father’s Day. Amidst all this, I kept thinking of the picture I had taken of Piya and her dad a few years ago and kept wondering why she was not writing anything for the occasion. Here is a post we want and need the world to read about.
It was a phenomenal week of storytelling at Chatoveracuppa last week. We heard from Dads. We heard about Dads. Raw emotions. Real stories. Life Lessons. Real Pictures. Memories. In all the stories there was one common aspect. We imbibe so much from just observing our parent in our growing up years. We may not have valued it then but we treasure it now.
I read, edited and published a few of those stories. Sadly, with a lump in my throat, all the while remembering my old man. It was not a super happy father’s day week or even a weekend for him. I drew a blank and did not know what to write about my own father. And then this morning, while going through some of my old posts on my personal blog, I stumbled upon this piece. This is for the man who taught me endurance in the face of adversity, who ingrained tolerance in me and who taught me to be content.
My Dad was the original author of my personal blog, the original storyteller. Throughout his life he has worked 6 days a week and 12 hours a day to generate zillions of megawatts of electricity to light up homes in India. We forced him to retire two years back. He is in his seventies and has survived three heart attacks (the last one nearly took his life).
He wears a couple of stents in his heart along with his salt and pepper hair, both very sportingly. He tells me often that he looks at least 10 years younger than his age. I kind of agree with him. A man of few words but of brilliant eloquence when he speaks. A man of principles and he is too rigid about them. Like Ma aptly says he cannot even lie to save his own life. Very true.
I inherited his looks, his voice (to an extent only), his handwriting, his mannerisms, his determination, his endurance, his sense of contentment and his nature to worry all the time (Yes my dad and I are enough to worry for an entire nation). My principles are not as strong as his and Ma taught me to lie enough to save my life.
I realized he had pampered me just too much when on my first day in the boarding school I realized I did not know how to tie my shoe laces. I was 12 years old then. I realized his sense of achievement when I got my first job while he was recuperating from one of the heart attacks. I realized he was too possessive about me the day I told him about the husband. I realized he believed in me the day he gave my hand off to the husband. And I realized I had to share his love for me the day my kids were born.
He also taught me the single most important lesson of my life – the difference between my needs and my wants. He sent me to a boarding school where kids generally came from very affluent families. We could just about afford it. He knew I would see some mismatch and told me this one thing that I still remember. “What you need I will provide that for you, but what you want (is not necessarily something that you may need) is something that you will have to create yourself.”
I lived through many such mismatches in the years that followed and that one statement stayed on with me. It enabled me to appreciate what I had. What I did not have didn’t disturb me. It kept me grounded. Looking back, I think he could have provided a little more. But he did not because he knew I will then forget to appreciate what I have. He instilled in me that belief that I could create things for myself. And today when I have much more I know it was all worth it.
The husband comes from an equally modest background and knows well what it means not to have it all. So now that we are attempting to instill that into our kids, we are also realizing it is not easy. As a parent you want to provide your children with everything that you have access to and in turn forget that it could be overwhelming for them. Or that they can take the provision for granted. How do you balance it? How do you provide such that it is just right? How do you draw the line? Isn’t it true that we, the new age parents, are the ones that introduce our children to the plethora of choices and then blame them for getting addicted to it?
I have seen so many homes with more toys than the child could play with, more gadgets than what is appropriate for the child’s age, more accessories than what a girl child can probably wear in her lifetime, more time on TV/ Laptop /IPAD than what is really required and more junk food than what the child should eat. Do children really need to be on social networking sites? Whatever just happened to playgrounds and classrooms? And this one irks the hell out of me – a house turned into a Disney Pixar or Nicklodeon museum with the amount of theme toys and stuff. The children did not make those choices, the parents did.
In attempting to be a good parent and making the right choices as a parent, we always remember our own parents. This post is my way of just doing that. I hope my old man is listening.
This post has been contributed by our one half of chatoveracuppa, Piya Mukherjee and has been specially written for her dad.