Sunday, 17 June 2012

My Numero Uno Man!!

A dashing, heart-stopping smile, tall and lanky in his Air Force Officer's Uniform, my Dad has always been an easy-going guy!! He grew up in Delhi, aspired to be an Architect, became an Engineer and joined the Indian Air force in his twenties. He worked hard, treated his colleagues and subordinates with equal respect and regarded good values and a sound character above rank and file, status and riches. He still lives by the same tenets, and inspires me everyday. Okay, let me tell you something about my Dad. Having grown up as an only son with  three younger sisters, under the watchful gaze of a very principled man, (my grandfather, Shri Halubha Sodha aka Bapuji) Dad always, instinctively, knew right from wrong, and followed Bapuji's word to  the letter. ( See post  the humane divine for more...)

Dad has always been quiet, and never talks too much. Only now, as we have grown up and sometimes get a chance to converse with him and share our concerns, problems, dilemmas and joys with him does he talk about what he and Mum, as young parents and as a couple, went through. They were always each other's best friend! He was immensely proud of her PhD in Sanskrit, she was always tremendously graceful and supportive of him and stood by him, steadfast and strong... Together, they are my Rock of Gibraltar, if you will...! They shared a love of music, of reading and always made times out as a family special. Even if he had to ride over on his trusty Bajaj scooter twice, to ferry our family of six to the venue, he never complained! They both had worked on their marriage and its wheels spun smoothly and noiselessly, making light of the miles they traversed...

His natural simplicity was not evident to me until I hit my late teens. Okay, so, on many occasions, he laughed with us and showed us how do do something, and often surprised me the most when I would be ready to cringe expecting a good-old dhaap, but just got told I should 'get lost'!! (Yeah, I'd scuttle away, relieved and yet, terribly ashamed. This 'तखलिया' from Dad served two purposes- it gave me time to think back on the incident and introspect, and gave him time to 'cool off'!)

 If we got ranked 5th in class at school, he'd joke that someone else should get the chance to stand first, sometimes and always maintained that being in the band of average students was good, as long as we did our best and never cheated at tests. "Ask an adult for guidance if you're stuck and do not understand something..." , he would say. There was no pressure to perform well at school, no pushing us to do drama, dance or drawing... We could do what we liked, so long as we were mindful of others' feelings and never hurt anyone (including ourselves) in the process! So we learned to ride our bikes and climb trees, and also passed on the dubious skills to our cousin Parth, our house-hold help's daughters Anju and Mita...! We made pots and pans from mud dug up from the garden and even baked it in a make-shift kiln fire (imagine the horror on the HSE's face) in the very same garden, on the porch... 

But I digress...! This post is not about the fun I had as a kid, its about my Father! That he is my ideal man is an understatement- He is the only man - apart from my husband and my brother- who invokes love and respect from me in equal measure! He is kind, he is a surviour and someone who lives a simple, self-sufficient life... Since I lost my mother to Cancer 17 years ago, He's been both a father and a mother to me. In the year after mom passed away, my sister got married and my brother joined the Indian Naval Academy. Now there were only Ba, Dad and I left at home... We grieved, we learned to smile again, and our silences became a voice too... We would all sit and listen to the radio- (Vividh bharti-at 2100 broadcasted a programme called bhooli-bisri yaadein that we listened to, then went to sleep)... This time together was precious, and still teaches me a thing or two about parenting, as I watch my own daughters grow. I share my difficulties with him, both personal and general, and his kindness and wisdom shines through. He is my father, my guru, and my God, he is inspiring, loving and very much loved back!
Dad, if you're reading this, accept my love and pranams and do NOT be self effacing (as you often are) and say "arre, Ruch...!" This Ruch is here, today the way I am, the person I am, because of you...chalo, अब बच्चियों  को उठाने का समय हो गया है! Sunday है, पर मुझे काम पर जाना है!


Dad and Rani in the summer of 2010.


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