Updated: Jun 2, 2020
I published my first blog a few days back, and got loads of appreciation for it. I had a lot of people to whom I could circulate my content as I had written about my boarding school. My school mates could connect to it, as the feelings described must have been mutual to them too. My siblings, well they were seeing their didi write for the first time, that is what they may have loved, hence were overwhelmed with emotions for the blog. My husband has always encouraged me and since he is an author himself, seeing his wife write was a moment of pride for him; he loved it. Mummy & Mausi said my article was emotional, they cried reading it together; they are both super cute and emotional beings, I was overjoyed to know that they enjoyed it.
But Papa, well I wasn't sure he would read it. Clicking on a link to read an article, I didn't think it would excite him enough.
'Bahut badhiyaan tha Chinki. Mein toh bhul hi gaya tha, itna purana tumhe kaise yaad hai? Beech beech mein meri aankhei bhar aayin,' and then he handed over the phone to mummy. I was speechless, didn't know how to react. Papa had an emotional side too, I mean of course everyone does, but Papa too? Papa ki aankhein bhar aayin? It came as a sudden realisation but I had never thought about Papa's emotions. From childhood till now, he always seemed so strong, so planned; just perfect.
My father worked for the Indian Railways, he retired from the job last November but the knack he had for routine is still with him .
I recall this from long before I joined Oak Grove. He worked in shifts, I think this is how it is for all Railways employees; 8 am to 4 pm, 4 pm to midnight or midnight to 8 am used to be the work timings. The rest of his day was dedicated to us for our homework, our playtime (this was the time he would prepare question papers for what was taught in school), and then he checked our answer sheets.
When I was in the 1st standard, our school used to have a cultural day. The students would go up to the stage and perform whatever they wished to. The teachers didn't have to check, as it was just in front of their own class. I think it was to boost up one's confidence and to take away stage fright. Each class was assigned a time slot in one of the days of the week. I don't remember which day was our's but I recall the uncanny performance which I almost ended up doing. That morning, Papa was getting us ready for school while Mummy was packing our tiffin boxes, when suddenly, he remembered that it was my cultural day. Papa would always get us ready for the activity a day prior, but he had a double shift on short notice therefore he couldn't.
'Kya prepare kiya hai cultural ke liye?' he asked strictly, while combing my hair.
I was excited, as this time I was going to sing a song I had prepared without his assistance. He was going to be proud of me.
'Maladi ki goliyaan, garbh nirodhak goliyaan,' I started singing. Papa's eyes widened, I thought he was surprised and impressed with my performance, taking it as encouragement I sang louder, 'MALADI KI GOLIYAAN, GARBH NIRODHAK GOLIYAAN'.
'Yeh kya ga rahi ho?' Papa sounded surprised but definitely not impressed.
'Song hai papa, TV pe aata hai? Maine achche se yaad kiya hai full song'. My song was cancelled with a strict NO. I had nothing to perform for the cultural that day, I was so angry at him. It was many years later I realised, it was an advertisement for contraceptives.
His punishments, although super scary back then, now seem super cool.
'Haudiya mein pani bhar do Guddan,' he would sternly call out to my aunt. We were told that if we do not study or act naughty, he would put us in a tub filled with water; that was scary enough for us little beings. I was the only one who ever got a chance to receive this honour. I was yelling while being carried to the tub but after actually experiencing it, I noticed that it wasn't bad at all, it was actually fun. I told my siblings about it and then, the terror of this punishment was no more, Papa had to come up with a new one.
Another day Mummy came running to the room while Papa was tutoring us, 'arre kyun mare jaa rahe ho in bachchon ko', she had heard the three of us crying and yelling on top of our voices. On entering the room she did find us crying and yelling, but Papa was calmly sitting, with our books in front and an exhibition of sticks in different sizes beside him. He never had to use them, not ever, just the sight of them was enough to keep us oiled and running. There was some magic in the tactics he used, how smart they were as they always worked.
When we grew up he missed himself. For years his daily routine had been managing ours and not being a part it anymore, must have made him feel incomplete.
Now, he has grandchildren coming and a few growing up. We are going to see him in his same form again, he already seems excited and so are we; for we had missed him too.