Aug 18, 2013

To the man who taught me everything...

He taught me everything.

When he managed to spend 15 years with me in my childhood without raising his voice or hand (and I was quite a naughty kid), he taught me it is possible to raise children without harsh words or physical abuse.

When he stepped into the kitchen for the first time when my brother was born, when he helped my mother with the dishes at night (he came from a family where the men didn't even pick up their own plates after dinner), he taught me to respect women, and more importantly, that with an open mind, your outlook towards things can change irrespective of how you have been brought up.

When he sent me to the school excursion every year, in spite of stretching his budget, when he maxed his credit card limit to fund my thread ceremony, when he bought a colour television for us to enjoy the cricket world cup on EMI basis which he struggled to pay month after month, he taught me to enjoy life without constantly worrying about the future.

When he carefully set aside money every month, when he opted not to have all the fancy gadgets the neighbours had bought, when he told me I'll have to wait before I could trade my 'tiny' BSA Champ to a more 'robust' Hercules MTB, he taught me that sometimes, corners need to be cut, and enjoying life doesn't mean being financially reckless.

When he silently heard out everybody who had an opinion without getting into a loud argument, be it on which career he should get his son into (engineering of course!) and where (definitely not too far from home! kids these days go astray!), or where he should continue to go to work, he taught me the value of listening to others and getting their point of view, and that winning hearts is more important than winning arguments.

When he finally decided to let his son choose his own career ('lowly' commerce), and send him to Bombay (32 hours away by train), and when he decided to carry on working whether the money was needed or not, he taught me the value of finally following your own heart, irrespective of what others say.

When he remembered to come for my award ceremony at Mumbai University, braving that 32-hour train journey in an unreserved compartment, when he unfailingly came to pick me up at the railway station every time I took a journey home in spite of me telling him I can find my way home, he taught me the importance of 'being there'.

When he sat me down at age 15 and explained to me that he doesn't have wealth, land or connections, and if I wanted to make something of my life, I'll have to do it on my own, he taught me responsibility.

When he pressed a 1000 rupee note every Diwali in my hand, or dipped into his retirement corpus to buy me a 60K laptop for my college, and even managed to arrange for money at a day's notice for a trip with friends to Manali at the end of my college, he taught me the importance of family, and gave me the assurance that someone would always be there to help me up when I am down.

When he reluctantly accepted money from relatives to buy a house, and then worked to ensure that not a month's payment was missed, when he decided to fund a poor child's education when he was slightly better off, he taught me that we should receive money with a tight fist and a heavy heart, but give it away with an open hand and a light heart.

He taught me everything. Except how to react when he is no longer there...