To dance with my father again

We have heard about a mother’s love. A mother is associated with compassion, warmth and caring. What about a father’s love? We hardly give a thought or discuss about a father’s love for his children. It is a given. We tend to think that a father is the provider and so in his busy schedule does not have time for his children or has no emotions and hence is incapable of loving his children. A father means the head of the family, the patriarch, and a decision maker.

So too it was with me during my childhood and college days. I looked up to my father as a provider for the family and as a patriarch and the one who had unquestionable authority on all matters concerning the family.

We four siblings would stand up when he entered our room. All decisions with respect to our lives was taken by him, including education and career. It was a taboo to question his wisdom. Since he was working for the state government, he would frequently go on tours and we hardly got to meet him in our childhood. Whenever he was home, his favourite pastime was listening to K L Saigal’s songs and reading books.

Some of the vague memories I have of him was when I had scored 28 in Mathematics in the midterm in middle school and he was furious that I had failed. For the next few months, he sat with me every evening to teach me Mathematics. I would get a rap on the knuckles with a scale for any mistake I committed while working out problems. I got 88 — a huge improvement from midterm — in the final exam due to his efforts.

I also remember the days when I, along with my elder brother and sisters, would wait for him to come home with new Amara Chitra Katha comics.  

Since he lost his father at a very young, and being the eldest son of the family, he had to take care of the education and marriage of all his four siblings. It could be because of these responsibilities that were thrust on him prematurely, that he came across as a short-tempered person who hardly smiled.

It was much later in life that I discovered my father, his emotions and his hunger for knowledge, after my parents had shifted to our native place near Kumta. I have the fondest memories of my father during that period. I cannot forget the animated discussions, disagreements and debates we would have on the beach every day, on mundane topics. As we trudged back home from the beach, I would look at the stars and ask myself how long these good times would last.   

My father passed away two years ago in June. As I travel down memory lane, one of my favorite songs, Dance with my father by Grammy winner Luther Van Dross is playing in my room. As in the song, I don’t remember my father lifting me or spinning me around or carrying me during my childhood but I do remember the evening walks on the beach along the Arabian Sea when I was already married and had children. I salute you, father! Rest in peace wherever you are…

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