Father’s Day

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My dad would have turned 105 this year if he were alive! He died when he was 96.  “Twenty-seven, eleven, nineteen hundred and nine.”    That is how he would state his date of birth because in India, his birthplace, the date would be stated first, next the month and lastly the year.  Though he lived in the United States for twenty-one years after my mother’s passing away, he never changed his ways of doing or saying things.

According to my father, life was better in the jolly old British Raj days in the Bombay that he grew up in from a  young boy into manhood.  He was born in Badnera, Maharashtra State.  We constantly heard of the days when all good food was freely available like Kraft English Cheese, canned sardines, Peak Freen Biscuits, Bovril (Marmite), British jams etc.  

My father’s generation never reconciled to the independence India achieved from the British and he often made blatant and depracating remarks about the Indian apparel worn by Indian Politicians in those days as being a dress that did not command respect in international political circles.  “But what about Gandhi?” I would plead my case.  “He was an Indian highly respected around the globe for his non-violence philosophy and he wore a dhoti?”  There was never any response.  His eyes were glassed over by British memories and his lips pursed in his characteristic fashion which spelled out “I’m not budging”.

He was generous to all with his time.  Broken radios were always being delivered to our home for repairs for which he never accepted payment.  He would sit for hours facing the innards of a radio with pliers in hand, studying the myriads of colored, coiled wires.  After a few tweaks here and a replaced part there the muffled voice of a newscaster would be heard struggling through the crackling emissions signalling the beginning of recovery for the radio.  We would be treated to another week of music now confidently filling our home with sweet strains.  The final flourish before returning the radio to its ever-grateful owner would be to polish the entire front with oil.  I think it gave him great satisfaction to make someone happy.  Lesson learned.

Money was sufficient and we ate well but the meat was doled out and only consumed at one meal about three times a week.  He would always place an extra piece on my plate saying “I have too much” and I knew we had all started out with three pieces each.

He was the best to have around when we were sick.  He would rub balm into aching legs, bring little newspaper-wrapped packets of almonds and dried figs as treats, made the best soup and soft-boiled eggs with toast.  

Never believed in doctors and said “Visiting them causes more health problems” hence he had this mini pharmacy on the shelf of his headboard from where he freely dispensed all kinds of remedies to those who would heed.

I will always remember the day our dad continued his journey back where his soul came from. He lay there in the hospital bed, peaceful as though in a deep sleep, while I stroked his soft silver hair and shed silent tears but not without an amused expression every now and then. My sister and her husband had just told me that when the paramedics came to take him to the hospital, he thought he was definitely going to come home again. So he instructed them to bring his glasses and his dentures to the hospital. He was vain to the core about his appearance and would never leave for anywhere without ironing his clothes, showering or carefully combing his hair! The cologne could be smelled across the room!

But that was my dad… a beautiful soul who taught me to live in the moment, enjoy life and if you can’t do anything about a problem just leave it in the hands of the Universe or sleep on it.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Father’s Day

  1. Beautiful words underlining the deep connect you shared and will continue to share. The soul may have departed and the body merged back with the nature, but the emotional connect will always remain strong.

    The generation of Indian which had a warm spot towards the British ruled India is fast disappearing. The younger generation Indians today has not connect at all with those who were born before 1947. Now we are going to have the new generation of Indian teenagers who were born in the 21st century, and they hardly have any linkage with the India of 1947-1990.These guys once again have access to all global brands – yesterday standing near a soft drink vendor I witnessed some teenagers show their preference for Sprite over Limca – they felt Limca is not for them but only for the older generation of Indians. Its funny how the cycle of time keeps turning on and on – reaching the same spot again and again. For the 1st time we have a Prime Minister who was born in Independent India. The baggage of British Colonial rule, good, bad, ugly has completely disappeared, now the new generation of Indian is totally connected to the world around them – you may find them not much different from the kids growing up in US or UK – in terms of brand consumption preferences.

    I lost my dad when I was twelve and çouldn’t even cry properly that day, he was in pain and somewhere deep inside I wanted him to be free from the pain. I was always much more closer to my mom and that connection grew even stronger after that. on sixth of December two thousand six, she also left us alone, but still every day I remember her, I feel her presence around me. Everyday I look at her picture along with dad’s inside the small temple at home and feel the calmness of their gaze, wherever they are, they know whats going on in our life and its a very comforting thought. We are never alone.

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    • Thank you for your warm words. We used to have an old Parsee neighbour who kept photographs of King George and Queen Victoria in her home, proudly displayed along with two porcelain figurines of each of them, he on a horse and she seated. My grandmother, also Parsee used to call Queen Elizabeth “aapri rani” (our queen!). The Indian culture is inherently so rich but the recent events with regard to really shameful treatment of women saddens me. We can be everyday Global Citizens, preferring Sprite to Limca, but the ties to our roots are so strong that sometimes even we, who liver overseas feel their insistent tugs.
      I am sorry you lost your father at such a young age … must have been so hard. Yes we feel their presence around us always. I love the “calmness of their gaze, wherever they are”. I light incense every morning and night and when I look at my father’s photograph (the last one before he passed on) I always feel he “knows” what is going on in my life and silently encourages me that “this too shall pass”. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful parents.

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      • 🙂 Sometime I feel the non-resident are more Indian than many of those residing in India, you guys carry the beautiful nostalgic memories in your heart, and not have to witness the physical and emotional shifts in the society; hardest part is to see the contempt in the eyes many around us who are learning the bad things from around the world and forgetting to see any goodness of our own rich cultural traditions. Its really painful to see people making atrocities on woman some kind of cultural issue – comparing it statistically with other nations – proving that those countries where women are more empowered also have higher crime rate against them. All the while ignoring how unsafe our own society is becoming for anyone who is even marginally weaker – poor, physically challenged, young children, women, animals, birds, the list can go on and on.

        As I reached back home from office yesterday, wife and me got panicked when our daugher didnt return home from the park at the regular time – the mind started moving in all negative directions when we didnt find her in the park, we all ran in different direction to locate her, scolding our son for not looking after her. Those 10-15 minutes were terrifying for us while she was happily playing with her friend in a small pool of water created by the pre-monsoon rains.

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  2. Lovely. Brought an entire era from the past back to life. And, your father…so wise and, obviously, a healer on his own terms. What a wonderful legacy he left for you! Now, I see where you get your very own delightful quirkiness 🙂

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    • Thanks for the kind words. “Delightful quirkiness”! I like that and very curious to know what it is 🙂
      The more I think of him the more I remember other incidents that were so colorful. Perhaps will share them
      at another time.

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