38 years ago, November 3rd, the day after Diwali my BFF passed away and left me wondering why. I still wonder why a young man of 52 had to leave so soon. My father is my hero. He was far from perfect, but he was my guide, my friend, my soft spot. He was predictable, very clear in his views, very strong and that is what made him my haven. I knew him well not because of any effort I had to make to understand him, but rather because he was as transparent as unpolluted air! He loved us unconditionally but that did not stop him from disciplining us assertively. :) He taught us right and wrong by practicing what he preached.
I still remember how much he loved the idea of gambling, but he never over-indulged in it. A rupee bet on a horse here another on a lottery ticket there. The fun for him was the anticipation of waiting for the result more than the money he won in return. I learned self restraint from him.
He followed the clock and kept his word no matter how much effort he had to put to do so. Our neighbors would adjust their clocks to my father’s comings and goings. I learned the value of dependability from him.
My father did the most menial tasks with pride. He cleaned the toilets in our home, he packed our suitcases when we traveled, he polished our shoes to wear to school, he sewed the mosquito nets for our beds, he washed his car, he repaired his car, he even darned our clothes. I learned about dignity of labor from simply watching him live life.
He gave us what we needed without ever having to ask or wait for it. He never gave us what we wanted without wanting to know why. If he felt it was important he willingly gave it to us; if he felt we should not have it he said no and explained why. My father never ever said, ‘because I said so,’ nor did he ever say, ‘I told you so.’ I learned about responsibility by listening to him tell me why.
If ever I had a question about anything, no matter how trivial, how embarassing, how shocking, Baba (I called him that) never avoided it. He always gave me a verifiable answer and never ever hesitated to say, ‘I don’t know. Let’s find the answer together.’ I learned self confidence and truth just by sitting beside him as he helped me find answers.
He was a possessive man, almost compulsive about personal hygiene and very choosy about friends but everything he did had a reason he was pretty clear about. His decisions were made with conviction and he did not waiver once he had set out on a path. He believed in himself and so in us as his children. ‘I have faith in the way I have raised my children. They know right from wrong.’ This I heard him say when I was 16! It made me strong, confident and a person of worth because I knew he trusted me.
My only regret - I wish he had been there for a few more years for I would have loved for my children and my brother’s to have been fortunate enough to have spent some time with him. I only hope my brother and I have given our beautiful children at least a little bit of what our father gave us, for then his life is worth so much more!
I love you Baba. You are always with me and always will be. You guide me today like you did when I came to you as a child, the only difference is that I could touch you with my hands then and now I experience you with my being. I do not believe I have another relationship that can touch the one I have with you - a relationship that only a father and his daughter can have and I feel blessed to have had you as the king to me your princess.