Sunday, November 4, 2012

This Day

November 3rd has special significance in my life. My hero died that day. 37 years ago, on this day, my father left this world and went away. He never left me, though, because by then his presence had been established in my young life of 18 years. Oftentimes I think that I may be fantasizing about his greatness and his importance in my life, that I may have this grandiose idea of a man who was really an ordinary, simple man. In reality, it is his ordinary-ness his simple-ness that made him so important for me.
Baba - many say this painting does not capture his looks, but to me it captures his soul!

Baba (I called him that) was a larger than life person in the literal sense. He was tall, broad and bulky for most of the time I had with him. He was also very principled, honest, disciplined and straight forward. He had only one side and that was the side everyone saw. What I learned from Baba was not so much because of what he preached, but from how he lived. His likes and dislikes were always evident; his views and opinions were clear; his convictions were apparent. He was open to learning new things and was always willing to listen to the opinions of others. It was hard to sway his opinion but if he was convinced that his views needed to change he was more than willing to dig in and change them.

Baba had a painful childhood balanced only because of the love and compassion of some very important people who supported him when he needed it most. He was a proud man who never asked for sympathy, but there was something about him that made me feel extremely compassionate towards him. This compassion was drawn out of me, as if, instinctively. I hated to see him disappointed. To me, he deserved joy after being disowned by his father because of a wicked step-mother. The pain that caused him never ever left him. I was too young to know what it meant but I was human enough to know that it hurt him to the core. This 'knowing' only grew with time and has extended towards others too. Emotional pain can be crippling but Baba never let it cripple him. He did contest his father's will - not for the inheritance of wealth - but for the establishment of his right as a son. He also gave up the contest when he realized that his energies spent on fighting for a right from a man who was dead, took his energies away from his wife and children who needed him in life. From him I learned the importance of being present - of acknowledging the importance of being there for those who need you - even if it means giving up on your own need to be acknowledged.

Expressing love in words is not the way of the culture in India. Love is expressed through action and Baba had many little ways of showing his love. The way he would look at our plate of food while we all sat down to dinner each night. He always made sure we had what was both nutritious and what we loved. Every night he would ensure my mosquito net was properly tucked in so I was protected from bugs. He polished my shoes when he polished his own to make sure I was always presentable. He was the one who ensured my school books had brown-paper covers and labels; the one who stood by me when I wanted to take Arithmetic instead of Geography in my final year at school; who let me go to college 40 miles away instead of the one next door even though he was afraid of losing another child. I remember Baba taking me to the Handloom House in Kolkata before I started college and basically walking around the store and simply picking saris randomly, one from each cluster of shelves for my wardrobe for college! We were not rich but his heart made me a princess!


I learned so much from my Baba, and every year on November 3rd I pay special homage to his memory. He never ever left me because he had established his presence in me long before his demise. What he gave me only helps me grow into a better person every day. His life lessons makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better sister, a better aunt, a better friend - every life role I play is better today than yesterday. I love you Baba and I know you would be proud of your daughter if you were here today. I miss hearing your voice saying how proud you are of me; miss seeing your face break out into a smile at a glimpse of me; miss seeing you waiting at the kitchen window for me to return home; miss running up to you when you return from work - but those moments are all sweet memories that I can call up anytime I need a smile. Your memory is always sweet - never attached to pain of any kind. My relationship with you had no room for regrets and I have continued living life ensuring that every relationship I develop always remains regret-free from my end.

I will love you always!

3 comments:

  1. So that is the wonderful man up there with my Grandmother. They have become fast friends as well! Thank you Baba for sending us your lovely daughter! And thanks for watching over her!

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  2. That's a wonderful portrayal of your late Baba and how he influenced your life. Besides material things, all intangibles, good or bad in life, are transmitted from generation to generation (Gita, verse 3.23) . . . It's imperative that we discard the bad and pass on only the good to our next generation . . . that's what sustains a society and allows civilization/culture to grow. . . the rest are details.

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