Monday, June 13, 2016

THAT MAN CALLED 'DAD'

I have often witnessed grown ass men share this one common feeling that they wished their father was alive to witness where they had reached and what they had accomplished in life. My younger, naïve self dismissed this feeling. He shrugged it off believing that this couldn’t happen to him. Because our younger, ten to twenty year old selves always assume that we would be kicking ass by the time we are twenty five; thirty at max. And for most of us, the older we get, the more distant success seems.
Back then I was young and naïve. Today I am older and less naïve. Back then, the gravitas of this emotion failed to affect me, but today this is one of the lingering fears at the back of my head. I have called myself a wannabe author since a decade now, but have failed at being able to finish a book. For every person, success is nothing but making a mark in something that they are passionate about. If you want to be a singer, tons of accolades at your corporate workplace will fail to make you feel successful. And I still envision myself as a published author. And it is today that I can relate to that feeling of regret due to not being able to be successful when your father was around to see it. And my fear might come true if I continue feeding the procrastinator within me.
Between all the pairs of relationships that exist inside a regular household, the one between a son and his father is often the most strained. There are bundles of suppressed emotions between these two men that rarely come out, if they ever do. A boy will often tell his mother he loves her, and this expression of emotions is frequent between siblings as well. Even the relationship between a daughter and her father is well exhibited (except for the bitches who claim to have “Daddy Issues”).
All boys I believe have phases in their lives when it comes to their relationship with their fathers. When you are a child, he is your cushion. You are carefree because you know he is always there, although you don’t realize that he is the reason why you are carefree. As you grow to a school going kid, you fear him. You don’t want your mischief stories to reach him, and you don’t want your poor marks to reach him. I don’t know how the fathers of this generation are, but in my young days we had loving-cum-strict dads, who when need be wouldn’t think twice before hitting us (my dad though barely hit me 3 or 4 times in my entire childhood). And I strongly advocate this form of parenthood over pampering your child and weakening them for the world. Trust me it won’t make them hate you.

After the school phase comes the teen years. For every person, the teen years are the most embarrassing ones. You mostly later end up disliking who you were and how your thoughts were back in your teens. And if you are thinking ‘Huh? I was never a dickhead teen’ then my friend you are still a huge dickhead.
It is during these teen and post teen years when the dislike and distance towards parents (especially fathers) increases. You become a rebel over stupid beliefs. They have experienced more than double the life you have, yet you feel you know better. You feel they don’t get you, which at times they actually don’t. I am not saying all of us feel these emotions strongly, but somewhere at varied frequencies we all do.
And in these teen and post teen years you make friends and girlfriends and boyfriends, which result in the distance between you and your parents widening.
After this, you reach where I am today, i.e. your late 20s. And this is when it hits you that your parents are now old. This will not dawn upon you gradually; it will hit you hard in some random moment. You will suddenly notice your dad isn’t as strong as you remembered him to be, nor is your mother as active. Various age-related illnesses have taken over them. Their hair has much more salt and hardly any pepper; wow when did this happen, and how come you never noticed it?

And right after this realization you are hit by a subsequent one that there will be a day when your mom and your dad will be no more. There is a certain day in the future after which you will not get those daily calls from your mother asking about what you ate today, and you will not get those weekly calls from your father where he discusses with you your salary and money management and future plans and keeps the phone without saying the one thing he actually called you for, that he misses you.
And it is this very realization that brings along the aforementioned fear of being successful in life but not having your parents at home who you could run back to and show your trophy.
It is during this time of your life when you will truly start loving you parents more than you ever did. You will look back and notice all the sacrifices and hard work they have been doing since the day you were born (in fact since even before you were born; since you were just a thought in their minds) only to ensure you get a comfortable life.
Last month my father had a Cerebrovascular Attack (paralytic stroke basically). He got a blood clot in the right side of his brain, leading to his left body being paralysed. This happened when he was at home at 4 in the morning, and I was miles away in another city. By the time I was at his side, he was unconscious in the ICU with several attachments inserted on his arm and mouth. I broke down the moment I saw him, because in all my life this was the first time I was seeing my father like this.
In my growing up years, I had multiple reasons to love my father, and a few to dislike him. But today as he is fighting the pain he is going through, I only see the good stuff as I look back. (In case you are wondering, dad is much better now. We have brought him home, although he is still bed ridden and needs constant nursing and caring. We are hoping and trying to have him up and walking in a couple of months.)
Presently I am in between jobs, as I had to leave my last one to take care of my father, and my next one doesn’t start until two weeks from now. So mom dad and I are at home and together all day. I do not remember how many years back was the last time we were together for so long as a family. I guess not since my college life (and hence the summer vacations) ended.
And trust me, I have never felt my small family of 3 to be more bonded and loving than what it has become after dad’s incident. There is constant laughing and fun as mom and I take care of dad. There are also stupid yet frequent fights between mom and me, but those are really petty.
My new job is again in another city, much far away from here. The last time when I left Bombay and moved to Baroda, I felt that I was going to be alone. This time when I leave Baroda and move to Pune for my new job, I am feeling that I am having to leave my parents alone.
I am to get married soon to this wonderful girl, and the thoughts of our child (who is not yet planned and easily at least two years after the marriage) are already gradually occupying my thoughts. I want to give my child a good upbringing and education and resources, the way my parents gave me. And for that I will have to earn well and save enough (education expenses are crazy these days). So if I am already having these thoughts, my dad would have also had the same thoughts much before he would have even planned me. And so would have all the dads out there. And I am sure of the fact that parents never stop thinking about us, not once, no matter what ups and downs their own lives are showing them.
Many of us feel like we are good to go on our own once we reach adulthood. But when exactly is that? When do you actually feel like an adult? If you ask me, till the day your parents are alive, you will always remain a kid. We never truly become grown-ups till our parents are alive, somewhere. You can be a father or mother yourself, and you will still be a child till your parents are alive. It is only when that final base cushion is snatched away from us that we become independent and responsible for our decisions in a true way.
I don’t want to end on a preachy note of “love thy parents”. I only want to state that if there is anything you hold against them, like they not letting you follow your dream, or being too strict all the time, or not being able to make enough time for you, or whatever, it is time to let it go. They have let go way too much for you during your entire life. They love you, especially your dad even if he expresses it much less. And they love you in spite of the pathetic creature you are. So you can surely overlook a few of their minuses and love them.
(P. S. — I might not show this article to my father, as it will get really awkward, but I have stopped holding back from expressing my love for him. And you can start doing the same, without waiting for a tragic incident (god forbid) to change your perspective.)

Post Rating