Happy Birthday, Papa!


“Bindu!!!!” Papa’s calling! What went wrong this time? I shuddered each time the furious call rang through the length of our house (such an elongate house indeed). I was not a very naughty child but still there would always be something to rile the precisionist. I had never had the nerve to face up his wrath. (I’ll meet the raging of the skies, But not an angry father.”—Lord Ullin’s Daughter)

That was long, long ago. ‘Time eases all things’. Now he is no longer the Papa I was used to.

Papa and me

Papa and me

Tomorrow he turns 78. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the whole family came together to celebrate his 50th birthday?

Apart from the scary image of an austere father, he possesses a lot of rare qualities I admire – systematic, organised, punctual, and perfect!

At the remotest corners of my memory are two scenes – the way he sharpened our pencils with his special little chisel and covered our books during our school days. It was such a pleasure to watch him meticulously perform those tasks. Now when I sit with the books of my kids or when I seek a knife to sharpen their pencils I find myself mimicking my father.

I used to boast to my friends about my father’s artistic skills. Carpentry being his hobby much of the furniture in the house was his creation. The duties of an accountant never prevented him from pursuing his passion. His workshop housed a perfect collection of tools, machinery and knickknacks, enough to make any professional carpenter green with envy.

The workshop was (it is still there intact) such an amusing place walled with shelves of compact racks. The place contained a world. You name it, you find it. The restricted place which suggested TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED held enough magic for the curiosity cat in me. The minute the ‘Giant’ stepped out of the house the workshop would be all mine, to explore. In spite of the intricacy of the place it was never difficult to locate an item because they were all neatly labelled and arranged. I was pretty well acquainted with the place. But he was shrewd enough to smell the intrusion had a single item been misplaced. Needless to say I was very cautious and mindful whenever I encroached.

He has been a hoarder too. Coming from a house without a sq. cm. of free space I have made up my mind not to be a pack rat. I do collect, but I can get enough nerve up to throw them out too (instead of letting them gather dust), when they start cramming my tiny home. Space is freedom, comfort, relief – I now realize.

He taught himself a lot of skills. That inspired me to pick up a few skills myself. I always tried to learn something he was not so good at – say, drawing, stitching, versification etc. leaving no scope for the critic in him. Rarely did he commend our skills. That’s why when he chose me to press his clothes (after he stopped giving them at the dry cleaner’s) I considered it a token of appreciation from him. Each time it was a test and the smile on his face was my trophy. (On a lighter note: After I left for my higher studies I once asked him who did the job for him. He retorted, ‘As the pennu (maid) who used to do it has left, I have to do it myself these days.’)

Above all he is a wonderful narrator. Even a trivial incident would be woven into a fabulous story with a dramatic introduction, suspense and climax. He knows how to hold his listeners with the spell of story-telling.

Thank you Papa, for what you have taught me to be and not to be.I feel proud when Mummy says ‘she takes after Papa’. I am imperfect in my own ways. And as I grow older I realize we are more or less the replicas of our parents. Let it be so. It’s all in our genes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Wish you peace, health and strength!

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19 responses to “Happy Birthday, Papa!

  1. Birthday Wishes to your father, Bindu!
    A heartwarming memoir this is – and I can so very well understand! My father too is someone very similar, and the feeling of joy when someone says I have taken after him is very very much the same!
    Carpentering skills? Mine too 🙂
    Strict? Was, not anymore 🙂
    Hoarder? Lol. I got it from him too 🙂
    Learning new things? On the dot. Me three 🙂

    I loved reading this Bindu! May he be blessed with good health and the joy of having loved ones with him 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words and wishes, Usha. 🙂
      What a coincidence! Glad to know we share so many similarities. (My elder sister’s pet name is Usha:) )
      He is such a creative person. The neighbours and the members of the parish depended upon him for a lot of things – directing dramas, creating name boards, fancy dress competitions, science exhibitions, writing applications and a lot more. Many people came in to have a look at (and borrow cuttings from) his perfectly maintained garden. His Xmas trees and cribs were one of a kind. I may have to write a book to describe it all. 🙂

  2. Happy birthday to your father! He seems to be a great father, with so much character and strength. A lovely written post, Bindu.

  3. Dear Bindu,
    Though we find our parents very irritating and shouting all the time when we were young, now we know why they did it. Happy Birthday Papa!

  4. Nice to read this post..I think you have got some of his qualities like punctuality, systematic, organized and perfect. I feel that you have all these qualities.I used to wonder how you used to get a lot of time to try new skills. Now I got an answer for that too..:)..And I am really impressed about your fathers workshop..He has some rare qualities. Anyway My belated birthday wishes to that “GIANT AND WONDERFUL FATHER”..:)

    • Thanks a lot, Ishanath for that generous comment. But I am in no way on a par with him – his skills are that great. Thanks for the wishes. 🙂

  5. A lovely tribute to your father Bindu! I hope he has a wonderful birthday 🙂

  6. What a lovely tribute to your Papa.
    He sounds like a disciplinarian. And I mean it in a positive way 🙂
    Everyone has their flaws but those whose positive attributes shines more than the flaws are the people who we should exemplify. And you sound like your papa.
    May he experience good health.

    • Thank you, Amira!
      He was so strict and demanded perfection in everything. Though as kids we found it bit difficult now I follow his methods and they are very helpful – for me. 😉

  7. Bindu, this is such a beautiful tribute to your Papa and wonderful photo of the two of you. Just what I needed to read tonight after a long and trying day; it put a smile on my face. I love the details you put in about the pencil sharpening and the ironing and other things that really bring your father to life. My favorite was the part about his story-telling; I can identify as my father also has this gift. And your closing words “Let it be so” – a nice blessing for those of us who feel, at times, a mixture of pride and frustration when people say “you are just like your Mom!” 🙂

    P.S. I also like your signature at the end of the post; may I copy that idea? It really lends a personal touch.

    • Thanks a lot for your kind words, Julia. Never expected this would make someone smile. 🙂
      After all we can’t help being like our parents. It takes us quite some time to start understanding them and loving them for what they have been to us.
      Of course, go ahead and give your posts that personal touch. I got the idea from Shail’s Nest.

  8. Bindu,

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. Loved the picture of you two as well.

    I lost my Dad about 10 years ago and I still think of him and miss him every day.

    Nancy

  9. Lovely reading this! Your father sounds a lot like mine was, his trade was a carpenter! 🙂 And like you have said here of your memories of your father creating items of furniture, I have similar memories and a wonderful beach wood coffee table that he left with us when he died. There was a lot of banging noises coming from the converted attic at home where he made all his wonderful pieces – shook the house sometimes! Was very annoying too! But would eventually come down with something wonderful he’d made – and it was hard to stay annoyed at that point!! I didn’t always get on with my dad, but I appreciated so much more when I was in my thirties onwards.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely memories, and if he was here, I think my dad would have liked to have read this too!
    Suzy 😀

    • I must thank WP for connecting people thus. We have so much in similar though we are far apart. Our dining table and chairs were his creations. And as you said the constant banging sound was at times a disturbance. Thank you, Suzy, for stopping by and leaving such a heartfelt comment for me. Keep visiting!

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