“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.
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!