I don’t think I can truely attempt to write a memoir of my dad. His simple holy life, his dedication to his ideals, his relentless pursuance of ultimate truth, his infinite calmness in the face of numerous materialistic challenges is so magnificently divine that the true essence cannot be captured in words. Hence, it is not a memoir, but just a thanks to the greatest dad ever.
For every little girl growing up her dad is the ultimate Prince. So was my dad, for me. He stationed my mom, me and my younger sister in a capital city for want of best facilities in areas of study and play, and himself toured throughout the length and breadth of Punjab. Sometimes, he would stay away for 5 days a week and visit us on weekends to again start for his duty on early Monday morning some times as early as 2.00 am in the morning. In cold eerie winters or hot humid summers his routine would be the same. While leaving, he would never even make an iota of noise. Even now, he does not need any light or sound to get ready. He polishes his shoes on his own and maintains all his clothes so well that his numbered shirts and pants last for decades.
He was my go to agony aunt as my lovely mother would usually side with my annoying little younger sister on trivial issues of childhood sibling quarrels. In days of no telephone or mobile, I maintained a journal of all my silly grievances which he would so kindly and passionately address during weekends.
When he stayed with us, he would sing to us ‘soja rajkumari’ and couple of other Bengali songs in his own version. He would make interesting stories and characters come alive with his animation skills. Although he had poor kitchen skills, but he had mastered the art of Dal handi (a yellow dal in North India) which he had learnt from a Dhaba cook in one village of Morinda, Punjab. His secret was to add raw egg yolk and we all thoroughly enjoyed his dish.
Even after I grew up and till now, he is my go to guy for matters of heartbreak, friendship, failures, relationships and what not. He has the best non judgemental advise and would usually listen and talk to you for hours.
A father holds his daughter’s hand for a short while, but he holds her heart forever.
His wide experience is a result of having spent his crazy childhood in narrow windy lanes of Agartala, Tripura, our Motherland (East India) and youth in the lanes and ghats of rusty Benaras, Uttar Pradesh (North India). He was a naughty child growing up, ninth in line of 10 siblings and was a favourite of my Grandmother. Even though he was brilliant academically, he squandered his time in enjoying other pursuits like literature, art, theatre and mischief. His performance as one dacoit in Ali Baba and forty thievies was so terrific as to put children to fear. Many of his pranks up to this date put us into hysterical bouts of laughter.
He came from East and settled in West. Learnt Punjabi and did all his official work in this foreign language. He worked earnestly, honestly and dedicatedly in one of the most corrupt government departments but his sincerity and truthfulness was famous as to even rebuke his seniors. Never once was he afraid, even in the face of physical threats. He was never tempted to buy the least bit of corporeal comforts for himself. Although all his junior staff would come by scooters or car, he would proudly descent from any mode of public transport, auto, bus on his own two feet.
Growing up, we believed ourselves to be upper middle class, but raising 2 girls with one single honest income was tough. Both our parents were extremely meticulous as to not waste money. But they emphasized on good quality of life. We would have great food, take nice decent holidays and travelled together. Enjoyment in life was must; but not the mundane luxuries like automobiles or fancy dresses. And even if we travelled by cycle, or on foot to our prestigious school or college awards in plain simple clothes, we had our head held high. That is how he taught us.
His greatest strength has been his commitment to his ideals, Thakur Ramakrishna, Sarada Ma and Swami Ji throughout his life. Even now, his favourite past time is to read spiritual books or bhajans. He hates watching news on television, with all its negativity and is a lover of sweet romcoms or comedy movies.
He is not very social and has a tiny group of close friends. But he encourages my mom to go and indulge in social activities as she is a more interactive person. Normally he is shy, but in front of his own intimate group he becomes a wizard.
His retirement coincided with the birth of my first born. And he nursed him, burped him, bathed him, fed him and cleaned his potty. He would never categorise any work into specific genders and raised both of us girls like that. He still values every tiny work, and treats sweepers and CEOs with the same respect. Any person, sabzi wala, presswala, whosoever visits the house is treated to a warm cup of Chai or paranthas.
He still has a naughty, ever ready wit and is ready to laugh hard at face of any illnesses. Even though both his daughters are doctors but like a difficult child, he has to be cajoled to take his pills on time. And any visit to hospital is vehemently opposed.
Dear daddy, you always let conscience be your guide. You lived and you let us watch you do it. If we can be 1/16th of what you are as a parent, as a professional, as everything; I will pat myself on the back for a job well done.
Dear daddy, no matter where I go in life, you will always be my number one man. Love you Papa.