My cantankerous brother, ‘Dr Bobby’, once observed, “In India, fathers are so unsung, it’s always about the mother.” The boy had a point. We openly celebrate our moms. Universally, our sense of wholeness and well-being comes from our moms.
The heart does rule. I confess, I myself am joined at the hip to my own mother goddess. But when it comes to our dads, there’s a sudden regime change. Traditional role play reinstates; emotions fold up neatly in a reserve drawer. How can such a foundational influence be waived off by the omniscient Mother mantra? Our dads are not an aside. Fathers are not just disciplinary figures who repurpose our lives. Often they act strong for our sake. They have been taught to discard softer emotions, ‘to be men’, so can they help it? There are many moms who shrink from showing love too.
At long last I realised, there is only one way to know for sure; ‘Listen with your heart’.
A father’s love is in ‘everything he does’. I recall, anything I wanted was mine though I wasn’t a material child. But I liked to splurge on friends, their birthdays, occasional lunches and gifting.
Daddy never said ‘no’ or put a ceiling on how much I could spend. The point here is not the money but the “giving”. He was a magnanimous man. He had a lumbering family, of poor antecedents back home in Kerala, who he financially supported at every instance and need. They never loved him, never acknowledged him.
Rather, they outright denied receiving anything! His brother took his entire share of property yet he never said a word. His view was that he was better placed in life and they needed the money! That remains my Dad’s enduring memory – he never spoke an unkind word of people who were heinous in their hate and rejection of him. He remained unaffected by jealousy.
This became the recurring theme of his life. The more he did for people the more they despised him. His good-heartedness, noble intent and giving was fully availed and then met with ingratitude and dislike. My bro often hurls this George Bernard Shaw quote at me to describe our Father: “It shows how dangerous it is to be too good.”
But that didn’t stop Dad – the dhanveer (giver) Dharma yogi. This giving was not just material. He freely shared his knowledge with any and everyone who cared to know. He was the quintessential Guru. And he had a very simple, engaging way of explaining the most complex issues. He was a founding professor at The School of Disarmament Studies, JNU. A visionary, my Dad was such a quaint, unworldly person. I well up with emotion every time now, as I could not fathom his greatness during his lifetime. What can I say, my timing has always been askew!
Every vacation or holiday, Daddy would buy books; the classics, originals, adaptations, the works so I would read and inculcate what the best minds had to say. I gather now he wanted me to not be vacuous but someone with depth. In my later years, it surprised me to realise that all my core principles are actually my Dad in person!
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper