I cannot write about my father in a single post..rather, me, my mother and my sister and the entire family will need several books to write about him. That is how much he powered our lives and kept us going…..he was the role model for me and many of us all of our lives!
He was witty, far ahead of his times, always thinking out of the box, terrific orator, a social butterfly(now you know where I get my social skills from!! :)) and just plain smart!!I was a total “Daddy’s girl” and he molded me completely…
When I was young, I used to tell my mom that I wanted to get married to somebody like my father 🙂 I adored him that much… (no, my husband and my father are similar but still dissimilar in their ways and I liked it that way, finally 🙂 )
His younger days:
My father was never an emotional person(atleast, not in front of me!) and we had never heard him talk about his younger days. He was just determined to come up in life and so he stepped out of his parents place at a certain point to make and carve a name for himself!
He motivated himself to prepare and study for the State Bank of India Probationary Officers exam and got selected right away!(this was way, way long ago – when not many knew about the PO exam) There was nobody in the family who was in the banking sector till then – so he did it all by himself due to sheer self motivation.
Even though he was from a small place in Tamil Nadu, he also made it a point to study and excel in English and he did with flying colors. He could talk in English eloquently and made sure that we both daughters were also educated in good schools and spoke excellently.
How he brought us up:
My mother was always the pillar behind my father and she used to admire the way he brought us up. He was not the shy looking-from-far father – he was a father who was very,very active in his children’s lives. These were just a few things that he taught us that still ring in my ears:
a. Be smart and independant:
My father always instructed all of us in the house to be “independant” and “smart”.
“Be smart, ma” or “Smartaa irungaa, ma”….
“Be independant, ma” – his voice would go and we would wonder what that really meant! (now, we know)
b. Dress well:
He loved anybody who was brave and all who dressed up well. For him, if it is a shirt, the collar has to be pulled down correctly..otherwise, he is not going to be too happy. If it it is a school uniform, clothes have to be neatly ironed and tucked in properly.
I was encouraged to do beauty treatments(but me being me , I was hardly interested!!) He always admired my mother’s way of dressing up and encouraged me to dress like her(but, me…ha, ha!! :))
c. Good role models:
In my younger days, he used to like Steffi Graf and soon I was also encouraged to like her 🙂 We rooted for her in all her tennis matches!! He would select nice role models for us (like Graf) and encouraged us to emulate them. He always wanted the girls in his life to be tough, strong, smart and independent and be successful in life!
d. Read good magazines
Since the world was very small when we were young(no Internet then), he bought us magazines like Femina and Women’s Era and encouraged us to look at the world in a wider way.
e. Don’t dwell:
Since we were 3 women in his life, we would have emotional party every now and then. But he was a very patient father and husband and never reprimanded us for drowning in our pity party. My foot surgery and the confusion after that severely jolted me. He waited for almost a year, till I drowned in my worries and then told me firmly, “Enough of thinking about the same thing again and again…now, move on” . Yes, after a while, he did not like to dwell on the various ifs and buts…
f. Plan and organize
He was a dynamic personality who grew by leaps in the banking sector. Since he was in a transferable job in the bank, we would get transferred every four years and that led us to travel to North India as well. He used to go first to the location and did all the planning. He did do a lot of research on the schools nearby, find a suitable accomodation and then shift us.
I had a sudden move from Chennai to Mumbai and had a tough time adjusting from Tamil to Hindi in 5th grade. But he knew it all and found tuition teachers to help me with the transition.
This type of research continued into the college years too. Before I was set to enter college, he used to check which subject will rock the world in the coming years( and this was 1989!) Surprise, surprise – it was “Computer Science” that was said to change the world and soon both of his daughters were studying that in college(he was far sighted, I tell you!)
He always maintained a neat diary where everything was written and planned.
g. Other funny tidbits
When we used to go to a Bata store to buy a shoe, we “had” to wear the shoe/chappal and walk up and down and show it to him… it is not short walk that we have to do – we have to really walk the store…:)
His favorite saying was always “The proof of the pudding is in its eating”
He was amused by the birthday/anniversary/Diwali wishes every year that appear over and over again ever since Whatsapp came into existence…he used to ask me “It comes every year – what is so special?” and now, even I wonder the same….
When he spoke, you couldn’t help but listen to him. He had amazing oratorical skills!! All my friends from school knew him, all my friends from college knew him and all my friends from wherever I stayed knew him … and he knew them all too! 🙂 He loved just the aspect of people. My paternal grand parents family, my maternal grandparents family – there was not a soul who did not come to him for advice or a nice talk.
He also had every girl relative in the world. He was blessed with an elder sister, younger sister(amongst other siblings), wife, mother, 2 daughters and 2 grand daughters and all of us dearly loved him. In fact, there cannot be a single person who couldn’t have fallen in love with him!
In spite of talking so much, sometimes, I think I hardly knew anything about him – I didn’t know what his favorite color was, what his favorite hobby was (he used to like to read books) and more. Did he really like Chennai? Did he like life in the bank? Did he like to study history?What did he really like? I was the one who used to keep questioning him all the time!! 🙂 But the answers were vague…I didn’t know -but my mother might know…
Anyways, he was always the magician who could solve all our problems.Even after we got married, we could run to him and my mother for anything and everything!
School admission – he was there, college admission – he was there, when his grand kids were born – he was there, he was just proud of whatever his daughters did…and he was the rock for us all…
He loved all three of us in different ways and all three of us loved him in different ways. We will always love you and we will always miss you appa!
Dedicated to my father who passed away on 11th October 2020
Next post: The cruelty of Parkinsons disease