Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yeh 'Father's Day' Kya Hai ?

That was an age when premium time daily was spent with someone, time before life coursed itself thorough some tracks and transformed everyday stuff like coffee or old black and white photographs into artificial tenuities. Yesterday morning I spoke to my father over phone and he told me that my brother had called him from the US and wished him 'Father's Day'. I could feel the warm smile on his face when he was expressing me this, and it was more than a morning sun on a clear day.

I am aware of this day, 'Father's Day' and the various theories regarding its genesis but never thought beyond this. Though it is not celebrated in India with great fervor and doesn't reach the media wires unlike the Valentine's Day when windows of shops are shattered by stones. But the concept seems to be catching up and gradually taking roots mostly pioneered by Indians/Indian children broadly called 'desis' living abroad.

Now, the question that many would raise is, do we need a separate day to accredit one's own father? Do we need to earmark another day in our calendar when we know that the inter personal relationship between fathers and children is inseparable. Well disparate ideas and views would surface, some claiming that like everything material and celebratory shipped to India, these days from the western world, 'Father's Day' is the latest addition. But my take is what is in-correct in this concept?

With the emergence of nuclear families and i-generation in Indian cities and metros, people do not have the time for others in their over-crowded schedule of activities. How I see this day is, that it's like any other day but you make that someone 'your father' or 'your dad' feel something special. Something similar to stark simplicity and the un-spoken sentiments held in the 'Raymond's Complete Man' advertisement shown in Indian television arrests the spirit of the day. The advertisement shows a father and young son duo moseying along the track into the woods, lost in an absorbing conversation and all these small moments coming to life like bioscope slides as the son grows up.

A father is a person capable of every folly after all but permeated with that divine spark that allows him to make unimaginable sacrifices for his children, extending the meaning of parenthood in the process. Indian history has it how the first Mughal emperor Babur, was ready to give his life, when he was advised that the sacrifice of 'the dearest possession' was the only way out to save his son, Humayan from the dark hands of death. This attribute has been passed on for generations and can be traced and tracked if we fan the embers of history of any nation.

Fathers are heroes in the eyes of their children. I guess this would be unanimous answer for any child in any part of the globe, be it India, the US or France or for that matter any country. Fathers may have flaws, their thought process may be different because of the generation gap, but the affection bestowed on them by most children is enviable. The warm and protective relationship is something that I can't exactly put in words.
[The pic is by S Paul, an eminent photographer from India.]

Not allowing for any exaggeration that accompanies strong feeling, I feel that what we learn as children in our kinder garten, school and graduation days from our parents, be it father or mother somehow leaves a deep imprint in our lives. I have immense respect for my father, who even though hailing from a very poor and humble family by the dint of his hard work and determination has a very satisfying life. From a village school to obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Delhi, his entire education journey was completed through scholarships like the Govt of India Merit Scholarship, IIT Scholarship, etc.

Later on he worked in various positions at steel conglomerates in India, traveled a fair bit around the globe, before retiring as the General Manager in Steel Authority of India last year. His code of discipline, hard work, ideals, and a broad vision of the world are few attributes that I wish to inherit by osmosis. He has lived in an era when it was not easy to resist societal pressures, when society while very demanding on certain points was quite limp in others. He is cautious and has retained many of his generation's values and notions of Indian society, though when he could not agree with those notions, he considered it prudent not to push for it. His affection and caring was never demonstrative and explicit as is common in Hindi movies with oodles of melodrama, but somehow in an implicit way he inculcated in me, the ethos of a sheltered middle class family. He is not a preaching papa, always showed by example and held my fingers when I needed it but let me independent when he was sure that I was ready to fly.

He is a man whose love in unselfish, directed towards all people and not just immediate family, an ardent reader, a man who would help others in need but who in his own adversity would not seek anyone's help. To fortify my point, I know that since my knicker days, he runs a small library in my house, the sole purpose of which is to circulate books, journals, technical papers to poor and needy students from engineering schools in my hometown because those chaps can't afford costly books. He is also a guide and a referee to many projects executed by the poor post graduate students from all over India, especially from IIT Kharagpur. A couple of years back, when I joined work and drew my first salary, I presented him a book, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and his reply was 'Lagta hai, tu baada ho gaya hai' [It seems you have grown up].

There was an interesting post on 'Father's Day' at Blogcritics and another one at Newsweek.
Fathers and Families Executive Director Don Hogan says the discrepancy is just more proof that dads are overworked and under appreciated. "It seems that society places a greater value on mothers than fathers," he says. "I think it's because there really is a value placed on the role of nurturing and bringing up children and that role has been assigned to mothers. Although you're seeing dads playing a greater and greater role, I don't think it has been reflected in how society views fathers."

The modern day father is an expert multi-tasker; he is a manager or a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, a chef, a diaper changer and a pillow for his children. That's the new music played by the new age father, but beneath it all he is as concerned as is any mother. In the changing society, fathers logged into the real world are juggling between work life and family life, still trying to offer the very best to their kids.
[The pic is from American magazine, Esquire.]

As aptly said by Denzel Washington at the Harvard University Address in the movie 'Malcolm X'.
He would wanna earn a living and take care of his family, and his family would respect him.

His son will say, "I'm proud that that's my father."

His wife will say, "I'm proud that that's my husband."

"Father" only means that you're taking care of your children -- that's what it is to be a father. "Father" doesn't mean that you're havin' some babies. Anybody can have a baby. Havin' a baby does not make you father. Anybody can go out and get a woman. But not anybody can take care of that woman.

There's another word for it: It's called "responsibility."

Life goes on and I am lost in my daily activities, but every year I wait for the squeezed warm hug and the healthy solid handshake that are sufficient to beef up my sense of security and warmth when this person comes to see off me in the airport or in the railway station. 'It's better than nice, it's just wonderful.' Even as the child becomes a man or a woman, the father himself wished to be, the father continues to worry about him or her, understanding his/her temperament the best way in any relationship.

Whatever may be the case, lets make our papas, dads, baujis, appas, pitajis, abbus, etc feel special this day for all that they done to our lives and the way they prepared us to face the changed world.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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At 1:36 PM, Blogger Rekha said...

"It's better than nice, it's just wonderful." - I wud say the same thng abt ur post too :))

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Kishore said...

Nicely written, mate..

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Amrita said...

Hello hello, guess what? You've been Tagged!


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