There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bringing up Dad...

By Anindita Baidya
Anand, Gujarat, India



Yes, I had a tough time bringing him up and he has still not grown.

He thinks otherwise. He feels, I have not grown yet and addresses me as he used to, when I was a skinny, worm-infested, thin-armed 8 year old boy.

‘Chhilkaa...!’(Hindi:
छिलका), that’s how he addresses me even now. In presence of my wife, my children and my in-laws, he addresses me as ‘Chhilka’. He meant that I was not skinny, but was a skin...! Does he still think the same about his 74 kilos, 43 years small little boy? We need to ask him.

We need to ask him many things. One day I will, surely and tell him how tough it was to bring him up.

When I was a child, Babu (as I address my father) embarrassed me when he arrived at the Parents’-Teachers’ meeting in his blue factory worker suit, straight from his factory, riding his heavy Hercules bi-cycle, which had a black hard seat with no cover. And in the campus of the posh Saint Thomas High School, Babu became very prominent among the cars and two-wheeler owners. I often would refuse to accompany him around the school but then he would pull me by my ears and insist that I take him to the teachers. He never grew up!

Sometimes he visited my friends’ house along with me. I was embarrassed when he would sip the tea out of the saucer with a blissful ‘Sllllrupppp’ sound! So embarrassed I would be that I would pretend to be making that awful sound, just to make my friends and their families believe that I was the one who was ‘unpolished’ between the two.

Babu is an efficient and a very careful buyer. No, actually, I think he is obsessed with reading whatever is printed on the packing material. He would go through the MRP, date of Manufacture, Weight etc of a product t start with, next he would read the composition carefully and then the manufacturers. And he mastered the art. So much so that if you offered to try a new detergent, he would as well say that the new product also contains the same amount of Sodium tri polyphosphate but is costlier by Rs 16 and weighs actually 25 gm less! That was his accuracy. But that sometimes irritated me. When I would be down with fever, he would often prescribe the medicines by the Chemical Composition and I would fumble at the rack, looking for the right medicine bottle. He would also pick up un-read packets straight from the kitchen dustbin and dispose them only after he had memorised whatever was printed on those. No packing material could escape the scanning by Babu. He has not grown up from that too.

During the winters, he would often wear a simple shawl while chatting with the neighbours. At some point of time, in between, his eyes would fall on the antique Celsius thermometer hung above the equally antique television. Babu would look at the temperature and start feeling the chill; and then he would cover himself up with pull-over, socks, gloves and a grey monkey cap.

He did not have mercy on me when he met my Tamil girl friend. “Oh you are a Dravidian...” my wise Babu nodded. And then to my utter disgust, he continued, “So you worship Ravan and curse Ram?” Now, where from he had gathered the idea, I had no knowledge but surprisingly my girl friend and Babu struck instant rapport so much that anyone would doubt that Babu was the Ravan and this Dravidian worshipped him! He said yes to the matrimony and I got married to my Tamil girl friend. My Babu informed the relatives, “My daughter-in-law is from Tamil Nadu, which is a place in Madras.”

He continued to embarrass me by emerging out of the bathroom in his small towel, even in presence of my newly-wed bride! He managed to cook the most inedible stuff and praise his own skills. He even narrated to my wife, how he had caught me kissing the neighbourhood curly haired girl, when I was just 7.

“Did you HAVE to tell her that?” I confronted. To that the proud, broad-chested Babu answered, “So what! I have narrated this to your in-laws also!”

Surprisingly my wife and Babu have been the best of pals. To me he is still the merciless Babu who, according to me, left no stone un-turned to mortify me!

But then, I understand certain things now. I understand that Babu did not waste time to go home and get dressed in his best for my Parents’-Teachers’ meeting. He did not do it to avoid any pending work after the factory hours. He did not do it, so that he could be home on time, to look after me. To look after my food, to look after my studies.

With his meagre earning, he saved enough to send me to the best school in town and pay for my higher studies and build a cosy home for me. He cooked nutritious, however inedible food for me, played in the rain with me, taught me the bi-cycle, bought me the motor-bike and got me married to the girl I loved. He raised me, singly.

Yes, I understand certain things now. The blissful sound while sipping the tea was the result of the painful mouth ulcers he constantly had. He took care not to hurt his open ulcers and practically sucked the tea out of the saucer instead of sipping it. He was over-worked and poorly nourished and that’s why he always had those ulcers, the doctors said.

He was careful to save every extra penny to make my life better, I know now. I understand his wry sense of humour and understand why he has such a good rapport with my in-laws and my friends.

Babu is still the way he was. Today, when my children invite him to watch the old Bollywood songs on You-Tube, my Babu still writes a post-card to Vividh-Bharti to listen to his favourite numbers on Manchahi geet! And I must admit, all of us jump with excitement when Babu’s favourite Neemi Mishra on Vividh Bharti calls out, “Bokaro se Shri Jagadish Kumar ne Abhi toh main jawan hoo..sunnaa chaha hain...”

Yes, when we have an old baby like my Babu, who needs a grown up Dad anyway?

After all....
Zaheed yun hi badnaam hai
Gham se tujhe kyaa kaam hai
Yeh muskuraati zindagi
Zindaa dili ka naam hai
Dil dil se muskuraaye ja
Kuchh gaaye ja, bal-khaaye ja
Abhi to main jawaan hoon
Abhi toh main jawaan hoo

3 comments:

  1. Anindita, your writing rocks! way to go girl!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shikha BhattacharyaAugust 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Absolutely beautiful.....stirred something deep within :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Quite emotional. This day this age, this is a beautiful work that reminds us how much our parents sacrifice for our happiness and well-being.

    ReplyDelete