My Father, My Hero

It’s almost twenty one years since Appa left us. He left home never to return back when a tragic accident snatched him  away from us .When a hale and hearty , lovable , one’s hero , a very active person suddenly leaves us it’s very very difficult to digest and come to terms with the sudden loss .

Two decades ago I was not even aware that something called ” father’s day” is celebrated world wide.

There are so many things I fondly remember about my first hero in life. He was a self made man. Coming from a very humble family background he worked very hard to rise to a very high position in the corporate world.  There was a fire in his belly to excel  in whatever he chose to do. He was very meticulous , dynamic and a very honest man.

My parents have given me a wonderful childhood and I have umpteen number of beautiful memories of my growing up years. Although he was strict and a disciplinarian,  he was also very friendly , loving and caring. He wanted his daughters to shine in academics and be an all rounder in other activities too. He introduced us to badminton, carrom board, tamil film songs, devotional light music, good movies, books, gardening, table tennis, access to library, photography, chanting shlokas, travel, comfortable journeys by road, rail and air. He taught us to ride a bicycle and the two wheeler. Whenever we took part in extra curricular activities he helped us in drafting with the poem recitations, speeches and debates.

There was never a dull moment with Appa around.He was a good singer, was good in drawing, appreciated good prose, poetry, music and dance. He would also enact some bharatnatyam songs with his hand gestures and facial expressions and would try to explain the meaning behind the beautiful lyrics. I still remember his all time favourite bharatnatyam dance song ” madhavi pon mayilal”  sung by T.M. Soundararajan. He introduced us to the world of tamil music through T.M. Soundararajan and poet Kannadasan’ s songs which were rich in meaning.

He was an all rounder for us who guided us at every step in life.

He had  travelled around the globe and believed in ” be like a Roman in Rome”. Coming from an orthodox south Indian family his views changed because of being posted to different places within the country

Whenever we visited a new city he would take interest in showing us around the city. The two things he was particular about were  rising up early in the morning and scoring good marks. We as kids would often grumble about it . He believed in the power of education and wanted his girls to scale heights. I could see the pride in his eyes for his daughters whenever we won a competition, secured admission in a good college, came out with flying colours in exams.

We had lots of Jasmine flowers in our garden. He would personally pluck the flowers with so much care for us. Amma would string it for us to be pinned on the hair.He always helped my Amma in kitchen and in few household chores. Once in a while he would cook and let Amma relax. We are a family of three  daughters and since we always saw our Appa lending a helping hand to Amma, the very concept of boys or males not helping in household activities was alien to me and my sisters. We have been fortunate enough to have a beautiful upbringing and we were always  given the freedom to express our views.

Appa was religious and had immense faith in the Almighty. After he met with the tragic accident we were very very angry with God. Circumstances they say change a person. Me and my two sisters started questioning so many things. After facing the turmoil and tough times along with Amma,  we in a way have become less emotional when we see people cribbing for trivial issues. We started questioning some of the superstitious rituals that are followed. Yes, maybe people think that we are outspoken  and not as submissive as girls are expected to be.

Appa passed away within six months of my marriage. It was a big blow. Newly wed girls normally celebrate all the festivals with so much enthusiasm within the first year of  marriage . Somewhere the looking forward to celebrate festivals lost charm within me. He could never play with his grandkids too.

It took time to come out of it. I still have a letter that I wrote to him in heaven , a year or two after he left us informing him about how we are dealing with life without him. I realized that at least I could enjoy and experience the relation of a father till my early twenties. There are so many in this world who might  not be as fortunate as I was . I reconciled myself taking it as God’s plan.

Memories are finally what is left behind . Thankyou God for blessing me with such lovely parents. I firmly believe that my Appa is blessing and guiding me in each and every step in life. I hold him close within my heart and he will remain there to walk with me throughout my life until we meet again.

For My Mother In Heaven

Amma, with Mother’s day approaching I am remembering you all the more . This year will be my first Mother’s day after you have reached your final resting place to join Appa in your heavenly abode . Thankyou Amma for giving us a wonderful childhood, memories,  moments to cherish, education, teaching Sanskrit shlokas , introducing us to the world of stories and storybooks and values. Children learn watching their parents and we surely as kids absorbed many things like a sponge during the growing up years.

You gave us the freedom to express our thoughts even if we differed in our thoughts on some issues and had diametrically opposite views at times . This  opportunity to air our views and to agree to disagree philosophy is something I simply love and respect about you.

I say this specially because I have seen some people of my generation not being given this opportunity when it comes to talking to their parents . They call this respect and love . I call this respect and love accompanied by fear ( my personal opinion).

For every child their mother is the best cook in the world. You always made sure that you prepared dishes that your children relish even if it meant making an extra effort since with age/ health issues  your likes/dislikes/ preferences for something could have changed.

You were so fond of cooking and  knitting  sweaters for your children and grandchildren. I never managed to learn these two forms of art with the same passion as yours  ( and I don’t regret it too ). You agreed that nature and degree of  interests could vary from person to person and also from one generation to another.

Cooking is something which I learnt  after marriage and since you were always a phone call away I could always trouble you anytime and ask for recipes and tips before the “you tube “and “google maharaj” made their entry. The practical tips always have been so handy which the books /videos / google maharaj would seldom specify.

You would pack my things for me every time when it was time to leave for hostel  before the college reopened. You had the ability to make friends easily across all age groups and with your humour you normally won over most people. I wish I had  inherited that quality from you.

I still remember the second Sunday of May  2003 . It was also a Mother’s day and we three sisters were travelling  from Baroda to Madras along with you and your two toddler grandkids by train. We realized we had been talking so much (maybe at a volume audible to others) and having fun when some passengers who were travelling in the same coach a few berths away told us that they liked our lively and cheerful banter and struck a conversation with Amma. They seemed as if they were eager to know about all of us.

You always went out of the way to help us . When your grandkids were infants , toddlers and your kids could not go to buy train tickets or because of the summer rush it was impossible to get tickets you always volunteered to buy us tickets by going personally to the railway station by taking the trouble to be there at the booking counter in the morning hours  ( around 16/17  years ago – which seldom your generation ladies would offer to do).

You were employed with the Accountant General office in Madras and Delhi for 11 years- a central govt job,  but you gave it up after the birth of your twins and I have never ever heard you grumbling about it even at times when you were annoyed with us. Appa left home never to return when  a tragic accident snatched him away from us. You remained a pillar of strength for us  .

I quote here the words of my dear Uncle ( Amma’s  younger brother)  to his nieces ( to myself and my sisters)

“From Valady ( a place in Tamil Nadu) to Vadodara her life has been a life which inspires confidence. The life values she has imparted on you all, after the untimely snatching away of your beloved father, without buckling and complaining tells a lot about her confidence and maturity and fighting spirit.  Resonating with her name ‘Visalakshi’ she adopted a broader vision and courage to stand against some meaningless customs and practices”.

When we were living in the same city post my marriage ,  I would call you up on my way to your place to keep tea ready for me. I could take this liberty with you. According to me this is what I call  a closest relation called ” Amma” .

Amma , we miss you many times and fondly remember so many things about you .  We ( kids, grandkids)  remember your dialogues, proverbs that you often used, reactions to our activities . It is lonesome without you since you have gone away but we seem to hear you whisper to us to cheer up and carry on . Each time I see your picture you seem to be telling us with a smile  “Don’t cry, I am in God’s hands and we will meet again someday.

Amma, I hope and wish that I too prove to be an adorable mom to my kid, the same way as you are to me.

Today as I am keying in, I want to write so many things but I would restrict myself now and summarize with a beautiful poem by Pat O’ Reily

I borrow the words from Pat O’Reilly

“ Wonderful Mother”  

God made a wonderful mother,

A mother who never grows old;

He made her smile of the sunshine.

And He moulded her heart of pure gold;

In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,

In her cheeks  fair roses you see;

God made a wonderful mother,

And He gave that dear mother to me.