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The Rediff Special
July 06, 2004
As a child, I never knew Papa. He came back at night just in time for us to have dinner together. He dropped us to school in the morning.
He was never a father.
I learnt to read, to cycle, to play hockey and drive a car either on my own or from a variety of people -- Papa was never there. The guy was a loser.
Or so I thought.
Until I realised he always did the right thing. He had his ups and downs but he never let go of his principles and his belief in the Almighty.
Even when we had no income, he continued to educate us in style. His life revolved around fulfilling all our wants (but not encouraging too many of them) and living with the belief that there are many things that are better than wealth.
Along the way, he even forgot to teach me ambition!
Now, at 44, I have been there, seen that and done it! Which is why, I now live for my family. To many, it may seem that I live the life of a loser! Guess what -- it's a great life.
I am teaching my daughter to do the same thing! Thanks Papa
Dr Girish Nair, 44, Bangalore
Baba and me
I have always been close to my father, especially since we lost Mamma in 1995. We have been each other's strength, support and source of affection and love.
It's always been this way, ever since the day I was born and Baba went around the hospital telling everyone he had had a daughter! I remember Mamma telling me Baba had been beside himself with joy; a daughter coming after a son had made their small family complete (the bonus came three years later with the birth of my younger brother).
All through my infancy and childhood, Baba was an integral part of my life! He woke me in the morning, fed me, told me stories, took me on walks, bought me umpteen toffees and dolls, braided my hair, tucked me into bed at night, prayed with me and guarded my little-girl confidences with his life!
He named me Preety, so I would never forget the essence of Life is love and to love! He taught me to sew, iron clothes, polish shoes, cycling, cricket, driving... He taught me that values are all important, honesty is always right, being true to oneself is imperative, loving and sharing is what life is all about and courage and strength come from within. He taught me to believe in my dreams!
He was the one who gave me the courage to be unconventional, to look into the future with my head held high. When we lost Mamma, we shared a wound that will never heal... a pain that will never cease and memories that will always be tinged with melancholy.
I remember the utter panic I felt when, four years ago, he had a heart attack in the middle of the night. The desperate knock on the neighbour's door, the mad rush to the hospital's emergency department, the doctors administering to him, easing his pain, soothing his wildly beating heart, bringing him relief...
I remember with admiration, his courage, his strength, his grace and resilience in that chaos. Baba was not floundering or writhing though I knew what pain he must have been in. Even at the height of his pain, he summoned the strength to walk down the stairs into the waiting ambulance. No stretcher for him! That episode will forever remain in my mind as the perfect image of my father and his life -- a man who always has and continues to live his life with amazing grace.
Of course it's not all rosy and lovely always. We have had our share of quarrels, misunderstandings and heartbreaks. There have been times when I have hurt him, and there has been at least one time when he has hurt me deeply... We have many occasions when we do not see eye to eye. There are heaps of things we don't agree on, and certain incidents because of which I carried a lot of bitterness against him for a long time.
But when the time came to take a tough decision and I was most worried about his reaction, he supported me wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. He told me to go ahead and live my dreams, to have the courage of my convictions and look adversity in the face and stare it down.
He has been, is and will always be the most precious person in my life.
Baba, this one is for you...
Baba and me
Rummaging in an old trunk,
I see it peeking through.
Corners curled, colours faded,
But the memories still as true.
A photo of an obscure beach,
On a rain-swept, windy day.
Waves crashing onto the sand,
Breakers on the beach.
Clothes frozen in mid-movement,
Borne forth by the wild wind.
Bits of seaweed, shells and hay,
Dancing around, tossed by the breeze.
Two faces turned up to the rain ,
Arms and legs in eloquent motion.
Hair plastered to the heads,
Twinkling eyes and excited smiles.
A young man with a baby in his arms,
My Baba and me...
Preety Patnaik, 30 years, Bangalore
When the going gets tough…
Papa had a difficult childhood. As the eldest in his family, he had to take care of his younger brother and sisters.
He began working at the age of 15. He would distribute newspapers door to door in the morning before working the whole day and attending school at night. He has always done everything with his family in mind.
Today, this man -- who is 54 years young -- is staying on the top floor of the tallest building in the area where he once lived in a small muddy house.
I have special memories of Papa -- of his oiling my hair on every Saturday night, his special whistle that indicated he was home from work, the Cadbury's éclair he gifted me every evening, the way he argued with Mummy because she wanted me to marry early and his tearful eyes as he waved goodbye when I began the next stage of my life with my newly-wedded husband.
I am very proud to be my Papa's daughter. I love him a lot. I pray that my parents have a long and healthy life.
Smita Prashant Bhosale, 27 years, Thane
Thank you, Dad
I am not a poet or a writer, but given this wonderful opportunity, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have selflessly done for us. We wish you a long, healthy life. You are such a vast personality that one lifetime will not be enough to talk about you.
I may not be the best son but you are definitely the best father.
I disagreed with you on lot of issues and always thought you could have done things my way. But, as the years go by, I feel proud I am like you, especially when I became a father.
Whenever I need your blessings, you are generous. What I miss, though, is a good hug from you. I want to cry with my head on your shoulder.
You are the sun and we are the planets revolving around you; you are the source of light in our lives.
Bankupalli Ganesh, 42 years, Muscat
A great father, a great friend
I lost my father two years ago.
He was a great father and a great friend. He taught me so many things. He made a man out of me when I entered college.
He is no more, but his scent and voice will remain with me till I die.
I miss you Dad.
Rajeev Sharda, 48 years, New Delhi
I never got a chance
Full of surprises
The first man in my life
My Papa Daddy
Dad was always there
My father, my friend
'Papa, please come back'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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