I asked my father the other day, “Is there something you wanted to do all your life, but never got around doing it?” He looked at me surprised. Lowered the newspaper he was reading and looked away into the distance. The latest craze of ‘following your passion’ or ‘doing what you like’ was an alien idea to him. All his life he has been working towards providing for his family. I have never heard him talk about his interests or hobbies.

Sometimes during dinner, he talks about the things he has done. He went to Mumbai for work when he was pretty young. He says he used to work in a fruit juice shop, followed by numerous other odd jobs. He reminisces about the people he met. People who helped him during difficult times. People who offered him jobs. He is a devout man. He thinks it was God who came in different forms and helped him. He tells about the ethical dilemmas he faced, tough choices he made and situations he walked out of. I usually turn to other people for advice, but I forget there is a person in my own house who can help me out.

His job took him to Iraq. It was the early 1980s when the Iraq-Iran war was going on. The second time he came back to India on a break, the day he landed here, my grandfather told him they have seen a girl for him to marry. He came, saw her and they got married. It has been 36 years now. Looking at their old marriage photo, my father says, “You see your mother’s smile? I fell for that.”

He stayed in Mumbai and rest of us in Mangalore. I imagine all the conversations my parents had, decisions they made, keeping me and my brother at the center. He visited twice a year. Brought pedas. And cassettes of 90s Bollywood songs. Which we would listen over and over again till the lyrics were etched in our brains. He wrote letters to my mother. For my birthday he would write few lines wishing me. My mother shows me the message and I imagine my father writing it in his small room in Mumbai. It seemed insignificant then, but the image of those written words has stayed in my mind all these years.

He still possesses his first ever pair of spectacles. He also has his sweater (the one he is wearing in the pic below) which is more than 30 years old now, but still in mint condition. I use it now. It is my favorite sweater.

Those bell bottoms!

I hate it when he is immersed in his news channels. Sitting in front of TV passing comments about politicians. He accuses me of watching too many films. I accuse him of watching too much news. He wants to learn computers. The problem is, he doesn’t get cut, copy and paste. Right click, left click, double click – chaos!

We never lived together in the same house for a prolonged period of time. When I was free, he was not. Now when he is free I am not. I don’t have memories of him teaching me any sport or even playing with me. And now he is drinking tea without sugar. Which reminds me how fast time flies.

My father has no idea I am writing about him here. And I want it to be that way. His news channels have induced enough fears in him about this ‘Internet’ thing. He would freak out if he knew I am spilling out my personal thoughts here.

So, with newspaper still in his hand, he thinks about my question. He replies – “I don’t have any interests. I want to see you guys settled and happy. It’s the only thing I wish for.” If it was a Bollywood movie then this would have been a perfect father-son moment where they hug each other with teary eyes. Thankfully it did not happen. Because I would never tell something like that. I would never make my children the sole reason for my existence. Never make them the only reason for my happiness. I hope to be busy till I die. I hope to never ‘settle’. I wanted to say these things. I remained silent.

41 thoughts on “Dad

  1. Hi Avinash – I really liked this post. You have a very quiet way of describing things that are laden with emotions. It also gave me an insight into what life and family relationships are like in India.

  2. This is a really touching post and really resonated with me.
    I’ve seen my dad work and work and talk about how its all about the family. I’ve heard him talk about money and being practical.
    But the daydreamer and rebel inside kept me busy with all kinds of things, not necessarily to push my career forward but mostly putting my happiness first. Some of us really need that.
    I guess this is what sets our generation apart from theirs.

  3. Avinash, for a split of second I thought I just came out of your living room after listening to dad-son conversation ! you have narrated so well. Keep writing !

    1. I am so glad this post had that effect on you. It has served its purpose:) Thank you so much for reading and your words of appreciation!

  4. I love that our parents were as self sacrificing as they were (and continue to be). It’s a breath of fresh air when compared to the “Me, Myself & I” attitudes of people nowadays :/ Beautiful post!

    1. It is hard to understand the sacrifices our parents made for us. I guess that is their idea of happiness.
      Thank you for reading:)

  5. I love that our parents were as self sacrificing as they were (and continue to be).
    Thank you for reading:)

  6. It made me speechless! Rare are the times when you come across something which make you feel short of words. This was one of those.
    I am glad I stopped by and got to read this. It’s phenomenal.

  7. As they say-we really cannot live the feelings of a mother or a father until the day we become one; all we do until then is try to apprehend those feelings. I’m not sure of you or anybody but when one will has that little life in front of you, it’d become tough to focus anywhere but on the new life. ❤
    But I do agree with you that one must have, at least one, hobby/passion which doesn't include one's family or friends but only oneself.
    I, again, liked the narration, Avinash; it flowed smoothly like a river. 🙂
    PS – My father and I have many common interests-books, movies, netflix, songs, public figures, and food. 😀

    1. Yes. It is difficult for me to understand what it is like to be a parent. It might be difficult to focus anywhere else other than your kid. I thought about this when I was writing this article. And you have pointed it out correctly. But the closing thoughts in the post is how I feel at this moment in my life. It might change. I’ll write about it when it does 😃
      You are lucky that you have a lot of things common with your father. Cherish it 🙂
      Your comment was insightful. Thank you for reading:)

      1. Oh yes, definitely!😃
        Being a young adult what would be preferable is to feel and savor the world through the eyes of a youth. And when it will come down to becoming a parent-one will start looking at things accordingly.
        There comes a phase of playing every character and live every feeling.

  8. Touching post. Perhaps the last para is an acknowledgement of the choice you have as an individual today and the lack of them your father had when he was in your age bracket. And much as we’d have loved to see our parents do a few things for themselves, they were too preoccupied with us to even think about it !

  9. As they say-we really cannot live the feelings of a mother or a father until the day we become one; all we do until then is try to apprehend those feelings. !

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