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The Rediff Special
June 21, 2004
He welcomed me: Abhinetri, 26 years ago, not having the least idea I would one day be an artiste.
He taught me: A most loved and forgetful biology teacher by profession, he taught me not just at home.
He corrected me: Whenever my expressions were not right in music or dance.
He understood me: Digital circuits, C/ Unix were not his subjects, but he listened whenever I talked about them.
He cried for me: I was prone to road accidents. He would feel the pain and stay with me in hospital day and night.
He guided me: Whether it concerned my profession or my marriage, he was always by my side to guide me in the right direction.
He encouraged me: Solaris/ RTOS... Whenever I faced difficulties, he would encourage me to find a solution.
At every point in life, Appaji has been a wonderful friend and my best guide. My eyes fill with joy whenever I think about him.
The ups and downs we have seen as a family have only strengthened the bond. Though I'm thousands of miles from home, he is constantly by my side.
The three of us consider ourselves fortunate to have such a wonderful friend in our father. Two hundred words are not enough to talk about Appaji. He is God's best creation.
I would like to take this opportunity to convey my regards to all such 'friends' on earth.
Abhinetri Kalmath, 26 years, Bangkok
My father was the omnipresent force in my life. He was always there for me in his own subtle way, though I only realised it much later.
He never refused me anything and always provided me everything he could afford.
He was the one who taught me the importance of independence and independent thinking. He made me conquer my fears.
When I became a mother, he was the one who woke up at nights to help care for my daughter. When I had to resume work, he was there to look after her.
He was so proud of me. He displayed my poems, showed off my grades and shed emotional tears when I accomplished something.
Dad, I will never forget you. You are a big part of me, my thoughts, my consciousness. For me, you are not a memory; you are a living soul. You smile at me when I do something well, you frown when I do something wrong. You are with me every minute I am awake; you are with me every second I sleep.
Dad, you will always be my guiding star! Rest in peace. Happy Father's Day.
Shilpa Paropkari Srivastava, 29 years, Hyderabad
My father... how do I describe him?
How do you describe a man who starts from scratch and builds a successful business even as he works as a highly successful scientist in India and Europe? Who makes anything from a beat car to a dead watch work? Who beats people half his age at table tennis and those twice his age at chess?
I call him Papa.
Papa... What does this word stand for in my life?
It stands for someone I have long conversations with, who shares my silences.
Someone who knows when to leave me alone, but is always there when I look behind my shoulder.
Someone who laughs with me when I am happy and silently cries for me when I am in pain.
Someone who encourages me to strive for ever-increasing heights and never settle for anything but the best.
Someone whom I have sometimes been nasty to, but who loves me unconditionally.
It stands for the most important man in my life -- for saint, genius, Superman all rolled in one.
If I can be two percent of what he is, I will consider myself successful in life.
Papa, you have always been my hero... Happy Father's Day.
Charles Makin, 24 years, Pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research scientist, Louisville
The earliest memory I associate with my Dad is sitting on top of the dining table in my kindergarten years, trying to eat a puri with two hands. Dad was teaching me how to eat it using just three fingers of my right hand. As I was too young to get it right the first time, he broke the puri into smaller portions to make it easy.
My older cousins use to pull my leg for some reason or other. My instant reaction would be to run to my dad and complain. I was branded 'Complaint Box' and treated extra-cautiously next time onwards.
I used to bully him easily into buying things for me. Like, I'd present my marksheet and ask him to buy me a Dairy Milk chocolate. If I did particularly well in an exam, I'd ask him to buy me an ice cream.
When I joined college, he always gave my brother and me the same amount of pocket money. He always told my grandparents girls are not different from boys; that girls can also do great things in life.
I come from a small town and needed that confidence to know I could prove myself in the future.
There are countless anecdotes related to my dad that bring a smile to my lips, and make me thank God for bringing me into this world and giving me such fabulous parents. After retirement, he used to indulge himself reading newspapers and talking to his friends on the phone.
I lost my Dad to a heart attack a couple of years ago, but I still feel he is with us. I do chat with him whenever I feel down or need his guidance.
I live in the UK now. Whenever I call Mom in India, there are times I wish he would pick the phone instead. This is when I realise he is not physically there with us any more.
If God gave me one wish, I would ask for a chance to talk to Dad one last time. I want to tell him how much I love him. How much I miss him in my happy moments. His pride in my achievements. How proud I am that I am his daughter. The endless things I didn't think of saying to him when he was alive.
This missive is for all daughters who don't realise the importance of the physical presence of a guardian angel in their lives and who take their fathers for granted. Take this opportunity to tell your Dad how much you love him and how much you would like to have him as your Dad in any number of future lives.
Sunitha Maviti, 23 years, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh
Tell us what your Dad means to you in 200 words or less. Share with us anecdotes about the most important man in your life. Please don't forget to include your full name, age and where you are from.
'Papa, please come back'
Photograph: Courtesy Abhinetri Kalmath
Image: Uttam Ghosh