My Father passed away last week after a short illness. He was 93 years old and had lived a long and happy life. I knew, of course, that I would be writing this post but I have wrestled over just how I would write it and what would I say. How does one compress 93 years in one short post? You just can’t. Instead I will just share my thoughts about him.
He was 48 years old when I was born. By then, he was already at the peak of his successful career and had already been a father to two boys and a girl. It had been 8 years since there was a baby in the house. Being the last child and coming so late in his life, I missed out on a lot about my father.
For me, he was never a hands-on type of dad and yet my brothers will tell you that he was very much like that. Their memories are full of family rides on the motorcycle and later the car. They remember him teaching them how to fly kites and the great disastrous day when they let him down and much to his chagrin, failed to hold on to the kites.
For me, he was not an affirming and encouraging dad either. Again my siblings would beg to differ and our family photo albums are full of moments captured of my father posing proudly with his children on the occasion of some academic award or other achievement. I missed out on that too as he seemed too busy with work to be involved much with my school activities and my interests.
My father was a quiet man; a man of few words. It took a long time for me to learn more about him. Most of my childhood, I knew my dad only as the successful office executive who led a conventional but unexciting middle-class life. It was only later that I learnt that early in his life, his work involved him traveling through much of the country at a time when it was certainly adventurous and not particularly safe to do so. Indeed, on one occasion he was robbed and tied to a tree in the jungle.
I never knew the man who was the life of the party, who frequented the lively night-spots or who knew all the smooth dance moves. He surprised me when he danced the cha-cha-cha at my wedding dinner. I never knew.
I believe that life is about choices. My father was not the adventurous, flamboyant playboy because he made a choice and gave it up to be a family man. He chose to be my solid, quiet, constant and dependable dad, who put his family first above all things. He provided me with a stable, happy environment to grow up in.
I know that I am like him in many ways. I am also a quiet person. Like him, I have a passion for books. Through his example, I learnt to be content in any situation. He was scrupulously honest and some of that rubbed off on me. I inherited his passion for food too, perhaps a little too much.
Many people are tempted to claim that their father was the best father in the world. I don’t see how anyone could really know that. When I think of my father and see him with through untinted glasses, I see is a man who could have been much more but who chose being a father and providing for his family as his priority. And he did this to the best of his ability.
I love you dad and I thank you for all the unspoken lessons that I learnt from your life and your example.