Monday, 24 June 2013
Life's lessons : Well-learnt from dad !!
For the world, it is just another Sunday in June.
Yet, the day is magical as it reminds me that this day, is the day for the man who brought me to this world, who looked at me with awe and wonder, who beamed at my mother as they both held close the little bundle of joy entrusted to them for life !
I just came across the prompt on Parentous.com about ‘the life’s lessons learnt from my father’.
All lessons learnt from dad cannot be carved in words.
He is the umbrella in most families, the big tree that spreads its huge branches across the firmament , shielding all beneath in its shade. Writing about him wouldn’t be easy !
But I take the plunge and here is the second post in my blog.
‘I am writing ‘10 life lessons I learnt from my father’ at Parentous.com‘
For me, he has always been ‘ Babuji’ ; ever since I learnt to roll my tongue and lisped my first words.
I am a single child to my parents, and have always been at the receiving end of many a snide remark about being the single child ; those malicious ones about how being a single child makes one selfish and blind to others’ needs and overtly dependent on the parental cocoon, as also those about being the single and unquestioned heir to the paternal legacy.
Yes, I am the single heir; to all the good things my parents have taught me without actually teaching.
If someone was to ask me, what I have learnt from Babuji as a daughter, I shall have much to say.
Any good quality that I possess, is what I got from him.
And all those bad marks in my personality, are those which I tried altering, but failed, as perfection eludes everyone.
Babuji was the one who made me see that one can always achieve, whatever be the hurdles. He had a humble childhood. He was born into a family with modest means. He has told me of the times when they would have nothing except a glass of black coffee in the mornings, to help them sail through the day. There wasn’t any spare money for the family to save, and even common comfort was luxury. All that kept them going was the fire to achieve, to prove their mettle and to push behind a difficult past. And they did. Babuji and his elder brother obtained their graduation from respectable colleges, and Babuji was the first to get employed immediately after his graduation. This wouldn’t seem a great thing now, but for a family of six people, with a ten odd dependents, who had to scrape through with the income of just one person ( my grandpa) till then, this was actually a breather. A big one at that, too.
He showed me that need was always different from greed. There were times , as a very small child, I would wistfully tell him about the new bag , a nice pen or the fancy watch which my friends had brought to school, or about the new house which some other friend had moved into, or the pretty dress which had caught my fancy. He would just smile and tell me, ‘ yes dear, I know they are good enough ; let them have it. We don’t really need that, do we ?’. Later on in my life, I realized that that was his way of telling me that it is our need and not greed, that actually has a say in life !
He taught me that it was okay to ‘ not have something and not be ashamed about it’. Sometimes the young girl in me would lament about the material comforts my friends had. I would be irritated that the rain was falling in through the gaping hole in the thatched roof or that there were tiny lizards crawling across the floor. He would engage me in conversation and tell me about his childhood when he would sit under the leaking roof and study for the next day’s exams, all the while struggling to keep the kerosene lamp from getting extinguished. This would make me see things differently then. As years passed by, he was able to buy a new home for us, but I kept alive the realization that material comforts do not always matter.
He taught me the importance of careful spending. I have never seen him waste even a penny. He was never a miser; he always took care to see that the needs were met. After he had settled down on his job, with his savings , he ensured that our life offered us the minimum comforts. Yet, not a single rupee he spent was known to have been wasted. He would weigh the options where money was needed, and settle for the best without much compromise. He never wrote out accounts, yet he knew where his money went. When he had to stay away from the family as a part of his job, he would insist that I tell him about the expenses the family incurred. Little did I realize then that it was his way of teaching me financial prudence. Over the years, I am proud to say that I have that in me. I still weigh my options to spend and usually settle for the ‘most and must’ of the choices.
He was the one who taught me it is important for us to earn , really earn what we get. Nothing in this life is worth getting free. And anything, obtained as a result of hard work and efforts would taste much better. We shall be able to savour them more. He never denied me anything that I wanted to have, he just ensured that I earned it before I got it. He would tell me to think and experience what it was like when it wasn’t available; whether I was ready to live it that way. He made sure that I valued it all the more when I finally had it, whatever it was, even something as tiny as a pen.
He allowed me to fall, struggle and learn to get up. I still remember the long evening walks I had with him as a toddler. He would hold my hand and I would walk with him on the road, questioning him incessantly about this and that. I spent a major part of my childhood at Thrissur, a small district in the heart of Kerala. The city is modeled around the temple of Lord Vadakkumnatha, the road around meandering in a circular fashion, so that to move from one end of the city to the other, we need to circumambulate the temple along the road which we fondly call the ‘ Swaraj Round’. This is our identity. Back in my childhood, the ‘round’ as we called it, was very much the same happening place, as it is today. I would walk with babuji along the road, around the temple, and reach the temple for the evening prayers. This walk was the most happening and educating time for me. Babuji would respond to all my teenie-weenie questions, teach me new tidbits without giving me the feeling that I was learning. I would stumble on the hard road, fall down, hurt myself, try to get up and look up at him. He would wait for me to do this, before offering his hand for support .This would happen every single time. I would think he hadn’t seen me fall down. But the later years were to tell me that he was actually teaching me to try getting up on my own before seeking help. That was a lesson worth learning, well learnt !
Babuji was the one who taught me to ask questions. As a child, I used to bother him a lot with questions of all sorts. As a single ‘proprietor’ of all home-made mischief, I had enough and more things around me to poke my nose into. And I would run to him with a torrent of questions. Never did he discourage me; instead he asked me to try and find out an answer. Or, he directed me to someone, who he thought could teach me better. When I found a new word, he made me look up the dictionary for its meaning. He asked me to read books, explore and find out the answers myself. I still do it. It is just that google has made it all easier !!
He taught me to be happy for what I am. He allowed me freedom in life, even though the reins were strong with him and my mother. He gave me the wings to think that I can always achieve higher. I flew up, I felt exhausted and I fell back on the ground. But never did he, or my mother for that matter, allow me to wallow in self-pity for having lost a battle. He told me that he was happy for what I had been able to achieve and that I had made him proud as a father. He told me that while our fate chooses us, we design our destiny !!
He taught me never to ridicule others for their passion in life ; be it even for a seemingly harmless joke. What everyone does is what he/ she is passionate about. And it is not proper to ridicule them for this. Making fun of people for their passions, their hobbies or pastimes is not really gentlemanly. I still see reason in that. I can perfectly understand people from the perspective of their passions, because I believe that they have their own reasons to be passionate in that way. Ridiculing them would mean belittling them, and I know what it feels like.
Most importantly, he instilled in my mind the faith I carry with me. The faith in the Almighty. The belief, that my prayers are always answered. The conviction, that there’s a solution to all things in life , even though they seem hidden. He has more often than not, helped me see the positive side of things and stay rooted on my faith : religious, spiritual and emotional.
Of course, there have been many virtues which I have not been able to imbibe from him. For instance, he has tried to teach me to forgive and forget. He has had bitter experiences in life ; but he has learnt to forgive , forget and move on. Somehow, I am not really adept at this, even though I think I am gaining on, slowly and steadily. Coupled with this is the cornucopia of patience he has been bestowed with, in things that really matter. I don’t possess even an iota of it, in comparison.
And yes, there have been many instances when we haven’t seen eye to eye; when the rebellious voice inside my head has got the better of my judgment. But all those are seen as healthy differences of opinion and put to rest.
Babuji has done everything for me as a dutiful father would – giving me a comfortable life, good education, and a good life by marrying me off to a wonderful family ! All the lessons that he taught me, knowingly or unknowingly, help in every walk of life, in shaping every single day of mine.
Oh yes, he is susceptible to mistakes too. There are weak areas in his personality and there are traits that many would disagree with. But all that makes him a human , and more so !
Now that I am a mother myself, I am learning the nuances of parenting , with my loving husband at my side. We are now living the lives which our parents once lived. And now it is our turn to pass on what we have learnt , to our darling child. I and my husband see our daughter take her first steps, and we know what it feels like to have a piece of our heart walking around the home. I am sure that’s the feeling we all have. We hope to be as good parents as ours were and are !!!