When I think of Dad, the person who comes to mind is someone who had a difficult childhood because his mother was mentally challenged. She passed away when he was barely three years old.
Someone who slept with a brick between his knees and ran three kilometres every day for a year when he did not get admission to military school because of a slight deformation in his knees. The following year, at the age of seven, he got through.
Someone who started reading India Today at the age of seven because he wanted to become the most well-read lawyer in the country.
Someone who gave up his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer and joined the merchant navy at the age of 18 and because he did not want his children (he wasn't even married then) to face the kind of financial problems he did in his student days.
Someone who lowered the lifeboat of his own ship in a terrible storm to save the lives of people aboard a ship that sank in front of his eyes.
Someone who stood by what was right, even if that meant going against his father and, at one point in time, his boss.
Someone who categorically told his 'son-centric' family he was proud of his two daughters in response to their cribbing when my sister was born!
Someone who got us an airbag full of chocolates because we told him we wanted chocolates when he came home for the holidays! At the same time, he never spoilt us.
Someone who allowed me to disagree and argue with him about anything on earth -- from WLL phones to Australia vs South Africa matches to the credibility of NGOs -- so I could learn how to make my own decisions.
Someone who is so well read that he can discuss anything -- from politics to economics to entertainment to sports.
Someone who never forced his opinions on us.
Someone who was there all along -- even when we refused to believe he was around.
Someone who has amazing friends despite his short temper because he is one of the most accessible, helpful, thoughtful and sensitive people around.
Someone who can work continuously for 24 hours without getting irritated.
Most of my childhood and adolescence was spent fretting over the huge communication gap that existed between us. It took me 20 years to realise my dad is the best. As they say, better late than never.
Tamanna Mishra, 20 years, Patna
Your dreams, my reality
Father... the word brings to mind a large hand holding, ever so delicately, the small and soft hands of a toddler, teaching him/her to walk. It brings to mind countless stories of beautiful princesses and brave knights told in the soft caress of the moonlight, while tucking the child to sleep.
My father is all this to me, and more. He is an essential part of what I am today. He is my conscience, my best friend. It is his voice that comes out as mine when I think I am speechless. It is his tears that come out of my eyes when I am hurt. His words shape my destiny.
I want to tell you, dear Daddy, that it is now my turn to take care of you. My turn to be the 'most perfect child in the world'. My turn to be that solid rock you can fall back on and feel all is well. My turn to turn your dreams into my reality.
Dear Daddy, I want to thank you for all the sacrifices you made, all the times you scolded me and felt the pain in your heart. I want to thank you for what you are because that helped me become what I am.
You are the best Dad, now let me thank you by being the best child
Ramya (20 years) and Sravan Kumar (16 years) Bhagavatula, Dubai
Nannus: My role model
My 'Naanus' is my role model. He was there always for my sister and me and I know he will always be there for us when we need him.
He taught me 2 x 2 = 4.
He searched for me all over when I went 'missing.' I had sneaked to a friend's place without informing anyone at home. Though I got a well-deserved spank when he found me, it made realise how much he loves me.
He was my friend, the person with whom I shared so many lovely moments.
He guided me though every stage of my life; he still guides me.
He took all the pain in his life, struggled throughout, yet made my day.
I remember the way he encouraged me to get the top rank in school, how he made me realise what is best for me. If not for you Nannu, I would have never been able to enjoy all this satisfaction in my life now.
Thanks, Nannus, for being there always.
If only I could unwind time and give you back all those days so that you could live them again just for yourself and 'Chittis' and not for us.
I love you.
Haritha Reddy, 30 years, UK
I love him
I want to swing from his arms as ever before
I'd buy him whatever he may want (if he'd accept)
I long for his restrictions now, even as he leans
It's time indeed to never stop thankin' him
To my ever lovin' Appa, Baba, Dada, Daddy, Papa and much, much more than that really!
On Father's Day and every day!
I love him and I need him now, more than ever before...
It's now that I have learnt what Dad means, as never before
'Cause I am 55 and him... he is 85
I was born in 1949 and he in 1919
I am a granddad and he is a great-granddad!
I want to tell the world from the core of my heart
I love him, I luv him... 'My Dad' now
More than ever before
May Guruji bless him!
Lt Col Jaspal Chopra (retd), 55 years, New York
Illustration: Dominic Xavier