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Fathers

A Conversation

We communicated with Anushree a little after the father’s day week. A vivacious fun loving young lady, a strong and independent woman and a successful fashion designer by profession. She happens to be the daughter of our storytellers Sonali and Tarun Banerji.  People who know Sonali and Tarun personally always compliment them on how well they have raised their kids, a reflection of which we have seen in many of our stories – here. This time around we asked their daughter Anushree what she thinks she has learnt from her parents. Since this was just around the father’s day week, we spoke extensively about her father, our story teller Tarun Banerji

It is always nice to meet eloquent, modest and approachable young people. A simple conversation that displays the thoughtfulness of this young lady. We loved some of the anecdotes she shared.

Chatoveracuppa  : You are doing so well for yourself at this young age. What is the most invaluable lesson in life that you learnt from your Dad ? 

One day I came back home early from my normal play time fuming with anger. My mom and dad were surprised, “Why so early, you had a fight?” dad asked looking at my red face. I told him the whole story about how I had a debate with my friend and she just wouldn’t get my point. At the end I just walked away because she was too dumb to understand my point. My dad said that was where I went wrong – while debating stay cool and never let temper get in the way.  I should never show anger when putting across a point. One gets angry only when his/her logic falls short. Once the anger conquers you, you are bound to lose. He told me a story to prove this point further:

Once there was a debate competition, and the two competitors were welcomed with fresh flower garlands. Little did they know that the garland was to judge them. As the debate started getting more and more heated one of the debaters garland started withering because of the heat generated from his body. And the other one who was calm, his garland remained fresh. Hence, the other one who was calm was declared the winner.
He taught me I could put across my point better without getting angry.  
Chatoveracuppa : Growing up, did you have a lot of fun with your Dad ? 

My dad is a humorous man. I don’t really remember him ever frowning or being sad. All my friends loved to hang out with him. He loves to tell us stories or incidents with the tiniest, funniest, craziest detail. Simple stories from when he went shopping for groceries or what happened at his work. He would narrate the story in his own style cracking us all up. We would watch the funniest and the crappiest movies together. My home has been full of laughter and music and smiles. And whenever life gets serious away from home I always try to remember there is always a scope of comic relief. You just need to be attentive to those funny details. No matter how bad a situation might be, it is up to me in what  frame of mind I should handle it.
Chatoveracuppa : Does your Dad give you any specific advice or has any particular expectations from you ? 

Now this bit about my dad is very confusing. Like all parents, my dad wants me  to succeed and reach my full potential. Whenever he sees me not giving my 100 percent and wasting my time, he tells me, “You don’t want to regret this later” , “You need to work hard to be something”. I see the hopes in his eyes, and I simply adore him like this. But, once I am motivated enough and start working hard, studying all night, he would come and say “Now go to sleep, no need to work so hard”. Or when now I tell him I am working on a Sunday in office, he’d be like “You need to relax also”. 
I guess he gets confused between the little girl he wants to pamper and the successful woman he wants me to be.

Chatoveracuppa : What is that one thing you would want to say more often to your Dad ? 

Every dad is their daughter’s hero. The one person she admires the most. And I am always awestruck of my father- My “Daddy”. And I am proud to be his daughter, and like some people say, be his shadow.

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Reminscences

“Father’s” through a mother’s, a wife’s and a woman’s eyes. Nandita Hazra shares today her perspective on how she sees different men play the role of a father and what it really means to them. A mother’s view on fathers. 

This story would have been apt for the Father’s Day week. But it was written on the night of Father’s Day and prompted by an event during that day. Read the story to find more. 

Strict, loving, protective, sometimes forgetful, but most of the time dependable – thats what fathers mean to me. 

When my grandson on a rare occasion is uncontrollable – a “look” from his father does the job, and when his daughter’s arm needed physiotherapy after a healed fracture, when she was a very little girl, it was only he who could do it against all protests from her. And when the children show their prowess at the “spelling bee” and other school programs, he is always there to encourage and enjoy and you can see they are his pride.

Once I woke up in the middle of the night to see my husband busy with a pile of answer papers – what on earth was he doing? My daughter, a professor of chemistry, had to correct and submit them the next day. So there he was, staying up through the night, providing moral support! A father for all seasons.

On Father’s Day I beheld another beautiful sight. We were visiting one of our friends over that weekend. I witnessed that a little toddler was crying away and no one could soothe him. Then suddenly as soon as he saw his father, he was all full of glee and with his too little hands up in the air, his face radiant, he jumped into his father’s arms – a perfect picture of joy and happiness.

Nandita Hazra, the newest of our story tellers, is a master in her art. Her life experiences through several years of parenting and grandparenting, traveling around the globe and meeting a diverse set of people, enables her stories to be always enriching, sometimes nostalgic and never biased. 

An Old Man’s Wisdom

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. 

My Daddy’s Day

My mobile phone screen flashed the sixteenth message declaring an unmissable offer for the Father’s day – a discount of ten per cent on a day spa, a free glass of wine, shirts, bags – you name it and I have it in the inbox. I just checked the latest one declaring a complimentary stay at a hotel exclusively for fathers and put the damn thing on silent mode. The screen continued to flash. Father’s day – one day marked on the calendar exclusively for dads. I peep into the boys’ room and I find them making greeting cards, evident from shreds of paper and open bottles of paint strewn all over the floor next to a sleeping dog with a tinge of blue in his fur. I quietly leave as I didn’t want to be flooded with requests for being their art critic of the day.
It is Saturday, and I have missed all last minute enticing offers for Father’s day tomorrow. I am not a cynic. I do not turn and scoff at all the days that have cropped up in our side of the world during the last two decades or so. In fact I think it is a nice idea to stop once in a while and thank the people who matter, make them feel loved and in case of Father’s Day, make them feel like the Marvel Superhero that they are.  As far as the discounted goods are concerned – I shall give it  a miss. Do fathers really need gifts? Of course not! A superhero just needs his cape. Gifts are to make sure a bunch of companies do not shut shop.
‘So what are you going to give nana, mum?’ Vivaan asked without looking up from the final piece of a quilted flower that he was sticking on to his card. ‘What do you think? Will papa like this?’ He didn’t wait for my answer and I ended up where I didn’t want to be – the critic who couldn’t truly be critical. As he ran off, I thought about his question – what was I going to give him? What could I give him? Can any discount coupon or a complimentary spa day really thank the one and only superman there is?
The proverbial ‘our times’ never had a special day designated to celebrate the man who mattered the most. Moms always got the cuddles but fathers mostly hid behind knitted brows and a bushy mustache. But every once in a while the cape showed and they saved the world – like the day I came back with all limbs scratched from a bicycle race that had happened too soon. The boys had sped past and jeered at my wobbly pedaling. Obviously I chased, sped past but couldn’t apply breaks. Papa’s favourite medicine for scrapes and cuts was the Old Spice After-shave. It stung. His remedy– he’d give us his hand to bite on. The more it stung, the harder we bit and he quietly dressed our wounds. As we grew older, he got many bites.
Having grown into an obnoxious teenager, birthdays were more resentful than fun. On one such birthday, mum and dad decided to take me shopping. Halfway through south extension market, mum and I were not talking since I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted and worse appeared mostly disinterested. The superman, however, believed (and still does) that birthdays are special days even for the kids who were bent upon being a pain in the backside. So from south ex we went to Karol Bagh and anyone who knows Delhi would understand that parking a car there required a particularly high level of commitment to the cause of shopping. That was equally disastrous and the two women bickered more but he very patiently drove us to Connaught Place. And the disgruntled teenager was suddenly transformed into a wide-eyed six year old. He bought me my first aquarium. That one smile on my face seemed to have erased all that I had put them through. So how do you thank the man for being so patient and resisting whacking me that day. I know now that I would have driven my boys back home from the first shop they acted like brat. But he didn’t – birthdays had to be truly special.
Last evening while driving back, Ishaan asked, ‘Mum who is going to teach me how to drive?’ He likes to have all things cleared way before hand.
‘I will or maybe papa can. Nana taught me, you know.’
His groans of disapproval were drowned by the smile that found its way on my face. Grand Trunk Road, twenty years ago, he sat beside me as I drove at barely thirty km/h . The honking from the cars behind me was making me nervous and he calmed me down. I still remember the confidence in his voice when he said , ‘Bebu, You keep driving, Whoever is in a hurry can always overtake.’ I will never know if he was freaking out on the inside, as at that moment all I could see was his cape.
All it takes to brighten up his face is his children. You need to see his eyes that easily brim over on hearing anyone mention how great his kids have turned out.  He’ll never admit it though. Supermen are tough that way. From baking a chocolate cake in a pan to buying the hottest trend of the times – a balloon skirt – he has done it all. He has never written elaborate cards and rarely reciprocated ‘I love you’s ’ with ‘me too’ – it is mostly a hesitant ‘thanks.’ Yet, I know that for him the only people that matter may be a tad bit more than his two kids are his grand-kids. Yeah, those four buggers are blatantly stealing our thunder now. Nevertheless, I remain his princess and bhaiya(brother) his shining star. The younger lot are more like the adorable pixies.
Then, is a day enough to thank the belief he has in us? We could fall, stumble, scrape our knees all over again but we will never be afraid for we know that there is a man standing behind us (with his cape flowing behind him) who believes we can reach the farthest star. No, a single day is not enough but it sure is a nice way of letting him know all over again that he is the best in the business.
So while the pixies are painting an elaborate card and planning an exquisite breakfast for their father, I am doing nothing. Like every year I will call him and wish him and he will say ,’ What Father’s day? It’s all a gimmick!’ followed by a whisper of a thanks when I tell him , ‘I love you papa.’

Story Credit And Photo Credit : Dr.Tanushree Singh. Tanushree is a frequent storyteller at Chatoveracuppa. She is a parent to two boys, a lecturer in Psychology and has a very interesting perspective on bringing up children and is a blogger herself. She blogs at tanushreesingh.wordpress.com.

Daddy’s Little Girl

 
Come “Poojor Chuti” – Puja Holidays(an annual festival celebrated in eastern states of India. The festivities are similar to those of Christmas in many parts of the world) and we were away from Calcutta every year to some new destination. This was almost the only time of year when my father – Baba as I called him, would give himself a long leave to be exclusively with us. Every morning we would wake up, get ready in a new dress and off we would go sightseeing – a passion among most Bengalis’!
This time it was Shimla, magnificent mountains, picturesque Gothic churches etc and my father clicking away pictures of us – it was fun. It was also the only time of the year when we could go shopping with him and knew that all our wishes would be granted!
I chose a lovely pair of white shoes but even before I could wear them, a huge monkey got in through the big window of the hotel room and right in front of our eyes disappeared with the box of shoes. I was about ten years old then, and the tears would not stop! My Ma, Dida, Dadu (my grandparents) all tried to console me but to no effect. Then a while later I saw my Baba entering with a similar pair of shoes – he had quietly gone out to the market, nobody knew when – that was my father. 
My growing up years had several such instances. So on Father’s Day – these sweet memories crop up and the girl in me lives once more.
Story Credit : Nandita Hazra 
If you were to meet Nandita in person, you will get to hear a new story every other minute as part of your conversation. She is just a natural storyteller and her style of storytelling is very engaging.So when we asked her to write down a story for us, it took her just a few minutes to write this story. She wrote this remembering her Dad on Father’s Day. 
The Chatoveracuppa team wishes all the Dads a very Happy Father’s Day.

Papa I Love You, My Son I Love You

During our growing up years, we tend to scrutinize our parents, we expect them to be the best at everything and have the answers for all our problems. When we become parents ourselves, this thought process makes a quick shift towards pragmatism. There is never a “perfect” parent. There is nothing called as “perfect” parenting. We simply learn from the small day to day things that we observe about our parents.

In today’s story, a son reflects back on his relationship with his Dad and his expectation from him. In doing so, he conveys an immensely important message to his son this Father’s Day. 

When I was asked to write a post on Father’s Day for the Chatoveracuppa blog, I got thinking what I should write. Shall I write about my dad or about my son, and then I penned down this based on first thoughts that came across my mind.
The first thought that came to my mind was the way I used to feel about my Dad during my growing up years and my thoughts amazed me. I usually focused on my Dad’s shortcomings and wished many a times if he can be like fathers of few of my friends.  But now when I am a father myself, I laugh at those thoughts of mine.
My dad was a man of few words; he never played many games with us (me & my brother) and never told us how we should lead our life. But everything he did was to make our lives better!
Vivek’s DAD
The other thing I realize now is children learn best from NOT what is told but what they see & experience. The BIGGEST lesson that I learnt from my Dad is how we should treat the people less fortunate compared to us, from rickshawallah to the cobbler. He used to treat them with great humility and that gave him a lot of joy. And very recently I discovered I had got this gift from him. I am a Dad myself now and my father’s shortcomings are not part of my memory. His lessons and examples of his life are. For that, this Father’s Day I just want to say “Papa, I love you.”
To my son, this is what I want to say. I know I am not the BEST Dad in the world and I have many shortcomings. But I only want & wish the BEST for you. I am very proud of you and I know that you would grow to be a lovely human being.  And “I love you so much”
Vivek And His Son
Story And Photo Credit : Vivek Kalra 

The Memory That Did Not Fade


The author of the story requested for a blank photo-frame to go with the picture. 

Foreword By Soumi Haldar : Throughout the week we have heard stories that poured an overwhelming amount of emotions from Dads. Quite unexpectedly, my own father shared a personal memoir with us that took me unawares. Father’s Day held a different meaning for him than what I had always thought it did.
I never knew or heard of the phrase “Father’s Day” till I reached the age of 55. By that time my daughter was out of the university and had embarked on her professional career.  Since that time, she, and later my son-in-law wish me “Happy Father’s Day” on a particular day of the year. I often wondered what the theme behind this “aspiration” is. Because in my perception, my memory, my nearness and attachment with my “father and the word” is a blank slate.
In my life span only one day and one particular incidence about my father faintly peeps in my mind.
I spent my childhood with my grandmother in a remote village, few kilometers away from the new residing place of my parents, brothers and sisters. My father was a doctor. He had got his medical degree from Calcutta Medical Collage in those days. He was a successfully practicing doctor and I heard later that he was not in the best of health. I was told that the day I was born he treated a patient and received Rs 900 in a single day. Unbelievable in those days but it is true and it happened.
I was studying in the local “patshala” (village school) with all children of the village under a single thatched roof. I was seven or eight years old. I used to love swimming in the ponds and small rivers, playing with the children, plucking fruits from the orchards, acting out small plays in the evening. Grandma used to tell stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata at bedtime and I used to slip into deep sleep with lot of dreams.
One early morning grandma woke me up and told me not to attend school. She had got a message that we had to visit my parents. We walked a long way on narrow paths between the paddy fields. We reached by noon. I saw that a body was lying on the floor covered with a white cloth. All the family members and relatives were sitting around the body and crying. I also sat without any realization of the situation. The only photographer of the area came and took a picture. The faded picture is still hanging in the house and none of the people in it are recognizable. That is the only photograph of me with my father. Soon the elderly people left for cremation leaving us the youngsters. That is the only memory of me with my father.
Time passes in its own way. The Father’s Day comes every year. I remember him and wish that “his great eternal, all-pervading, stable, immovable and primeval soul may rests in peace in the eternity of God”. I believe that I am fortunate to have lived in his presence even if for little time. “Happy Father’s Day”.
Story Credit : Swapan Haldar 

A Man Of His Words


Kranthi and his son

Foreword by Piya Mukherjee : Continuing with the stories sent by Dad and about Dads. Today’s story is written by Kranthi Bydida. Up until this story I had known him through his work behind the lens, his photographs. He is a visual storyteller. But in this story it reflects he is a storyteller at heart, regardless of the medium.

Today’s story is about life lessons and lasting impressions. In the story, a Dad reminisces the most valuable lesson learnt in his life. This Dad has in turn learnt it from his own Dad, his role model. And he intends to pass it on to his own son now.

We decided to sell our apartment and build a bigger home where we could live as a joint family with my grandparents and uncles. I didn’t like the idea of moving and it was a big deal to me but my dad convinced me it was for everyone’s good. Soon, a neighbor offered to buy our home and entered into a verbal agreement with my dad (I was told).  With a heavy heart I resigned to the fact that nothing can alter the sale and we have to move on. 

After a few days, my uncle told me that there was another buyer interested in buying our home and was offering a substantially higher price than the previous offer. But my dad declined. I casually brought this up one night after dinner while watching TV, “Daddy, why didn’t you accept the better offer? After all you have not accepted any advance (payment) or signed any paperwork yet, right? ”. I will never forget my dad’s reply. “…but I gave him my word and I cannot take it back. I wouldn’t be a man of my word if I change my mind and take up the better offer now, would I?” 

This moment will always be etched in my memory. There was neither hesitation nor regret on his face. I’ve learnt a lot from my dad over the years and he is my role model. I hope to be the same to my son and pass along so many invaluable lessons I learnt from my dad. 

This Father’s day, let’s celebrate the first man in our lives who made us what we are today. Happy Father’s Day ! 

Story and Photo Credit : Kranthi Bydida 

The Bond Of Fatherhood

Vivek and his daughter

Foreword by Piya Mukherjee: It had been a phenomenal week of storytelling at Chatoveracuppa so far. We set out to celebrate Dads. Sukanya opened the week with a thought provoking post – “ChoicesWe Make”. Phalgun shared a wonderful story remembering his dad – “To Be Or Not toBe” and Barbara enriched us by talking about Russ yesterday. We have been reaching out to all the Dads we personally know. Our Inbox has been full with such stories since. Stories written by Dads and about Dads. It is raining Daddy stories so to say and we are getting goosebumps as we read each one of them. Simple and raw emotions. Moms, take a note. 
For this story, it took very little persuasion from me to make Vivek, our today’s storyteller and a Dad, to write about his take on fatherhood. He is an extremely fun, happy, super energetic and a perfect buddy kind of Dad. He is that way as a person too. You can tell he is his daughter’s best friend.This is what he has to say…
It was June 12, 2008 when my father’s words – “You will know when you become a father…” dawned on me. Fatherhood has been a roller coaster ride since then :). Being father of an adventure loving and extrovert girl has kept that adrenaline rush going. It feels as if I am traveling in a warp drive when in reality I want to play freeze tag.
It was just yesterday when I held her in my arms for the first time with her eyes wide open trying to explore this new world and today she is talking to me, in fact trying hard to educate me, about everything she has explored so far. 

Every day brings something new – a new story, a new perspective, etc. but there is one thing which is very vivid and has not changed for as long as it goes back –
As it gets close to sleeping time she cuddles up in her bed and utters two words, “Pappi…. story”.
Then she gives directions for the story. that it should have a monster, a little girl, some friends, etc. etc. Anyways, I tell her a story before she sleeps but the funny part is I have been telling the exact same story, word by word, for the last 3.5 yrs and she still loves it.
What it tells me is that it was never the story which was important, its the bond and the desire which keeps it rolling…..
Story and Photo Credit: Vivek Singh

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