The Man In my life!

He is 5.6 inches tall. He has a slight paunch and a receding hair line. On a busy platform in Bombay you will see him in a full shirt and a full pant, carrying a bag across his chest. You will not turn around and look at him if you pass him by. In Bombay there are millions of people fitting this description. Though when I will see this man, I will immediately have a smile on my face and my first instinct would be to hold his arm, much to his discomfort. You see ,he is extremely conscious about people looking at him. Even though I tell him that nobody is looking, in Bombay who has the time. He will smile and reluctantly let me hold his arm, feeling conscious all the while. This conscious man, in that crowd of millions would be my father. A man I dearly love.

 My early memories of Baba are not very pleasant. I was extremely scared of him. I was a really mischievous kid. I hated studying and any activity that involved sitting at home. I would constantly be out of our house in Bombay. I would mostly be with the boys, playing carrom, chess, cricket, badminton, table-tennis, anything but dolls. The only thing I could imagine doing with the dolls was  to use them as a target when I would practice bowling in our small house. Once as I was doing that I broke the doll into two pieces, my sister loved that doll, she went and told my father and Baba immediately grounded me at home. Once his temper had cooled down, I picked up a table tennis ball and started hitting it against the wall with a bat.  I hit the ball so hard that I cracked up the wall and Baba completely lost it. He almost had come close to slapping me that day but mother came to my rescue, as always. I don’t remember seeing my father so angry with me ever. After that day whenever dad came back from office I would pretend to be studying and he would believe it. Until of course I got my maths results after my third standard summer holidays. I had just about managed to pass. After that result my father would come back from office at nine in the night and take my maths studies. I would bribe mother to let me sleep before he came. Though he would come and wake me up and work with me for an hour. I was so petrified of him that I would want to say 4, when he asked me “two plus two”, but my tongue would always say five with nervousness. My sister and mother would look from the other room at my miserable face and always have a great laugh. After a few years though Baba would tell me that he was as bad at maths as I was.When he was in school,  to prepare for his 5th standard Geometry paper he studied a geometric figure ABCD and its proof. In the exam though when he got the same sum with changed letters PQRS, it kind of confused him. When he had told all of us this I asked him, ” Why did you give me such a hard time, when I was younger?” He told me, ” I really didn’t want  you to be as petrified of Maths as I was! Stop cribbing you did get better marks in your exams after I started teaching you.”  I had to remind him, more than his teaching it was the fear of him that led me to do better. 
         

Amused at our dressing sense, are we?

       
 Baba loves his wife. It is not  over the top Bollywood style of love. He has hardly written a letter or a romantic poem for my mother, or held her hand while walking in the park.  His love is subtle,supportive and receptive.  When he was in Delhi, he and mother had gone to attend a function in his bank. One of the lady employee there gave a great speech in English, and my father raved about how well she spoke. My mother isn’t extremely fluent in English. It is one of her dreams to be able to speak fluent English. So when they came home for the next two days mother was a little low and my father immediately realised what was on her mind. He gave me a call and told me to find an English speaking class in Pune and enrol mother in it. ” By the time I am back I want her to tell me, ” Go, do the dishes.” (In English) My mother always tells us that she would never worry about loyalty issues with Baba. Baba is extremely uncomfortable with female attention. He is shy and almost petrified of women. My mother always jokes with him saying, ” If you need a bodyguard give me a call.” Baba has great respect for my mother, for her sacrifices and the dreams she let go to let us fulfil ours. He always tells us she is the head of the family,not him. Her decision is the last word in the house and that has never been questioned by any of us.

Mr. and Mrs

Baba is slow in most of his actions. Like reading the morning newspaper, sending a message on his phone, find parking on a street, or driving his car. In his younger days in Gwalior he worked as an organiser in a small theatre group. One of my favourite Marathi writers V.P. Kale( Vapu) was the chief guests in one of the shows. He  signed him a book saying, ” Tumchya svabhavacha dheemepana mala phar avadla .” ( I loved the slowness in your nature ). When mother gets angry with him on his slow pace of doing things he immediately reminds her a great writer like Vapu was a fan of this trait, and winks at us. Both me and my sister  start laughing, forcing a smile on my mother’s face. His slow reaction though sometimes works in favour of the robbers. Once we were getting back  home by a local train in Bombay. A man came and slowly pulled my father’s wallet from his pocket. My father had no clue though my mother saw it and immediately held the robber’s collar. My father held both of us. The guy thankfully dropped the wallet and didn’t harm my mother. ” Such a thick wallet he is trying to rob and your father doesn’t even have a clue. One day if somebody takes me, he might react only after he reaches home and doesn’t see me.” We all bursted out laughing, and were laughing till we reached home.  
 My relationship with my dad has changed over the years. I am not petrified of him anymore, thankfully.  As me and him grew together as people I have seen a lot of things change in him. His ability to keep his calm in the toughest of situations, always surprises me. From a father he has transformed into a friend. I really love this transition. I talk to him about my dreams, about crushes, about politics, about life, relationships, about  anything under the sun and he always listens with detailed attention.  He has supported me with anything I have wanted to do. To his credit, if he went through a bad phase in life professionally I never came to know of it. He has never let anything disturb the atmosphere in the house. He has always instilled all the moral values in us never with force but with example. I owe a lot of good things in life to him.

     

From Baba to Pops…We are quite chilled out now. :):)
Baba is a good man, a very decent man. Due to him, I have really high standards set for men. He has lead an ordinary life, setting goals and honestly worked hard to achieve them. He has done enough to let his daughters dream of doing extra-ordinary things. He drives a Maruti Alto with pride, because as a young man he nor his father could afford one. He loves his wife and his daughters and has never fell short of providing for them.  He has never tried to be a hero to us, he has always tried to be a good father, and has achieved that. My father is no Super- Man! He is slow in his actions ,he is worried about his receding hair-line, he forgets names of people and calls Ramesh, Suresh and vice- versa, he follows traffic rules, he always wears his seat belt, he worries about his daughter’s marriage and tells her that he is going to cry the hardest when she leaves, and  he is a little scared of his wife. To me my father, is just my father, and I really like it that way. He is and will always be the most important man in my life. The man whose arm I will hold, and wouldn’t care if the world is watching. That space right there, is the space where I feel the safest.

Happy Father’s Day Baba!!!

He isn’t smiling too much! People are looking no?

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