A couple of weeks ago, the newspapers were all full of advertisements about what to gift your daddy. This was followed by an invasion of my inbox, with offers of the perfect gift, for Father’s Day. Of course there is nothing that I could have gifted my Appa, and it wouldn’t have been any different had he been alive. What would have been truly Appa style, would have been to go for a long walk in the park and to ‘ruminate’ about life. Of course, I don’t ruminate quite so elegantly, under Amaltas trees. I ruminate in front of a computer, on wordpress.
At any rate, I have concluded, that I am slowly turning into him. It is quite startling. For example, I have developed as much of a temper as I once accused him of having, I worry about not having enough, ‘respect and integrity’ seem to be my top priority these days, I want my talent to be appreciated on its own and I find marketing oneself despicable, I’ve decided to become my own doctor and I dream that ‘one day my words will come chasing after me and eat me’.
While I ruminate, I have also come to appreciate, the many things that Appa tried to teach me. For example – Appa disliked Sambhar, not the concoction but what it stood for. He called it an unimaginative dish – dal and a bunch of vegetables thrown in together along with something sour. Sambhar is a testament to the ordinary and Appa always wanted to be and believed that his children would be extraordinary. In the same vein was his love of Palgoa; an almost sublime south Indian sweet dish and the Jalebi’s richer cousin called Jahangiri. I think Appa loved the name more than the sweet! Which brings me Appa’s insistence that everyone must read and understand history. I half think I became a researcher, because Appa insisted so much, that I read and learn and ask questions. It didn’t matter to him that I failed examinations, in fact, his proudest stories used to be of how he himself walked out of examinations. What mattered was that one was intelligent.
Appa disliked being old too, he was full of sarcasm for people who were too scared to learn computers because they were “too old” and certainly didn’t want to be dependent. One of the many things I learnt and keep learning from him is how to be Free, Frank and Fearless. The dimensions to this are mind-boggling. How to be free, as I have learnt, is not about free as in free-beer, but free as in free-thought, free of encumbrances, free to be and be with, free to do, free to learn and free to not be a slave to anyone or anything. Frank as in not just honest, but also honest and courteous, polite and firm, being ‘real’, being proud of who and what you are – past and present included. Fearless; this is a big one. For me, this is about being able to step-out in a new city, to be able to take autos in the rape capital of the country, to be able to stop being scared to take decisions, having the courage to apologise and own-up.
When I look at my son and think what a great time he and Appa would have had. Appa was full of stories and songs and they always meant something. And so this is how it is – the once young become the old, and I see myself trying to teach my son, all that Appa taught me and continues to teach me. Like a great big Banyan tree, you become what you once saw.