6th of June, 1995
His best days of any given week was the Saturdays and Sundays when his dad was at home. His dad was an Ayurveda physician in the city not too far away from the village. During the week days the dad and the son were always kept away from each other by work and school. Come Saturday and the boy wakes up, gets his lazy sister out of the bed, brushes his teeth, gobbles up his breakfast with his sis and is out with their cricket kit, all waiting for their dad to get finished with his 2 hour long puja (rituals done for the deity in the prayer room, which was a Shiva Linga in this case), have his breakfast and come out to join them. The game would last till lunch time unless there comes a family friend with his kids or at times patients from far off places for private consultation. After lunch, the guests would leave and the dad, the mom and the sis would go to take a little nap, while the boy would sit in front of the T.V, all bored and browsing through the different channels and finally fall into a deep dreamy sleep 'coz he gets tired after the long hours of playing under the hot sun.
In the evening this family would go for a movie to the cinemas or pay a visit to any one of their other friends. Or even go to the beach and spend the whole evening at the beach, munching on light snacks and the kids playing around their parents. But the best part is the dinner time when the dad would hand feed his two kids and tell them stories from the Hindu mythology and take them along a tour to the historical battle fields of Kurukshetra and Lanka where wars were fought between the good and the evil, the gods and the demons and for a nobler cause, which is very much unlike the wars between the nations that the world has witnessed in reality. Through his many tales on love, nobility, truth and the importance of righteous living, the dad imparted in his kids a sense of value which they would have never got from any of the prestigious schools and universities that they later attended. Post dinner, the dad and the boy would sit across a board of chess while the girl would go to her mom and drift off into her dreams where little fairies in their pink frocks and blue wings would dance around her. 10 out of 10 the dad always wins the game but every now and then he lets his son win. Though not too good at chess, the son was never a fool not to know that his dad was sacrificing his King for the little happiness of his son. But that made him love his dad even more. Not for letting him win, for he never cared for the result in a game so long as he was sure he gave a good fight and enjoyed the game, but for his dad's love for him. On Sundays, the dad would join his kids for their music class and sometimes even sing with them 'coz the tutor was a member of his old music troop and were good friends.
And for the god-dest dad that he was, his son learned, from where no one knows, something that his dad never taught him. The son learned to steal money from his dad's purse. He used the money to buy stickers and posters and crayons that were his biggest passion. Did the dad find out about this? Wait till you read what happened...
It was the dad's b'day and his daughter and mom pooled in money to buy him a nice maroon shirt. The son was never asked to put in what he had. Now don't wonder how these little kids were expected to have money, for the dad gave his two kids a piggy bank each and unfailingly gave them little change to fill in the piggy banks. While the daughter saved all the money, the son was ever eager to spend it on stickers, posters and crayons. So on the eve of his dad's b'day he was bankrupt. He was heart broken to see that his sis and mom had got a b'day present and he had not a shilling left to buy the person that he loved the most in this world, his bestest friend, just anything. But his evil mind told him how he too can get his dad a b'day present.
That afternoon, when everyone were asleep and when his dad was in the bathroom taking a shower, he sneaked into his parents bedroom, opened the cupboard where his dad kept his purse and drew out some money from it. He then happily rode on his bicycle to the nearby textile shop and got his dad a brand new salt and pepper colour socks which he was sure his dad would love. And the next day, when his mom and sis handed the dad his b'day present, the boy just grinned his way into the room and gave the socks to his dad. The dad took one look at the gift and he scooped his son in his hands and gave him a kiss, which the mom or the sis never got. They looked at the boy with such envious eyes that made him feel like the happiest and the most proud soul in this earth. That evening when the whole family was watching T.V, the dad got up and walked into the dining room and called his son from there. The boy sprang up from his seat and ran to his dad. He asked his son to take a seat next to him and he was smiling all the while.
"Now, tell me son and don't lie to me for I know the truth. Do you take money from my purse?"
Now this was a through blow, a mighty big bolt out of the blue. He looked into his dad's eyes for a few seconds unable to do or feel just anything.
"Yes", is all he could say.
"Don't you know it's bad to steal? Well, if you don't, I'm telling you that it's really really bad to steal not just money but anything for that reason"
A few seconds ticked by and the silence was unbearable to the boy. He didn't know what was coming next. Is his dad going to beat him up? Is he going to forsake such a worthless son? Is he going to throw him out of the house for such an evil deed? The weight of his guilt hung on his head. He couldn't face his dad any more. He has shamed a dad as good as he was. What's going to happen next????
"Son. Look at me".
The kid very hesitantly raised his head and looked at his dad. His dad was still smiling at him and that thoroughly unnerved him. "Why is he not angry? Why is he not getting mad at me? After all, I deserve to be punished."
"Come here. Sit near me son".
The boy got up and went near his dad, all scared and weak in his knees.
"I really liked your selection. You got me the colour I like the most. And you do have a fine taste for choosing gifts. No one would have got me a socks for my b'day".
The dad made him sit upright on his lap and took his hand in his and said, "I won't tell this to anyone. Not even to your mom. This is between me and you, all right? Just give me a promise that you'll never do this again".
And the boy has never broken that promise till date. And even overwhelming was the fact that the mom knew about such an incident quite recently when the boy, now a grown up young man, told her about it.
And one late afternoon, the dad walked into the house, looking all tired and exhausted. He asked the mom to turn the water heater on, for he badly wanted a hot shower. He got undressed and wearing just a lungi (a length of cotton cloth worn as a loincloth in India) and nothing to cover his chest, came and sat on a chair in the verandah smoking one cigarette after the other. Now, he was a chain smoker years before and had cut down to 3 or 5 cigarette a day. And this site of him smoking so heavily was very unusual. The boy, being too young to understand this, just looked at his dad puzzled but never approached him fearing he might anger him. After taking the hot shower and the dinner he again came back to the same seat, now with a shot of whisky and another packet of cigarette in his hand. He sat there for a while and came in and complained that the weather was too hot outside and he was sweating profusely. But it was the rainy season and in Kerala, India, where they lived, the month of June is damp and cold and with rains seeping into your skin. For the first time, the mom got an alarm that something was not going right. He just lay flat on the floor on the living room and asked his son to switch on the fan. The boy obeyed and sat next to his dad and saw his face contorting in some excrutiating pain. The kid immediately called up his mom and she rushed to the scene from near the telephone. She was summoning a cab for her kids' dad to be taken to the hospital. The cabby said he'd be there in half hour. The situation got worse as seconds ticked by. The dad was nearly drenched in his own sweat and he kept throwing away the towel that the mom used to mop him and the boy sat near him fanning him with a magazine with all his might. And finally when the cab arrived she rushed him to the hospital leaving her kids with their neighbour.
The daughter, the little kid that she was, complained that she was too sleepy and went to bed with the neighbour's daughter who was her same age and her best friend. But the boy was feeling all restless for a while and then a sudden calm swept over him. He still didn't feel sleepy and he walked around in the neighbour's portico singing all his favourite songs, one song after the other. After almost an hour the telephone rang. The neighbour's wife answered the call. The boy looked at her very curiously while she was talking over the phone. No sign of nothing and even if there was, he couldn't understand anything. The lady came out and said that the he was being summoned at the hospital and that her brother living next door would take him to the hospital. The boy asked her why he had to go to the hospital and the kind lady said that all his cousins and aunts and uncles were waiting to meet up with him at the hospital. But why at such an odd hour of the night? The clock on the wall said it was half past mid night.
The boy couldn't say what but he didn't feel all that good about the situation. Any ways, the lady's brother took him to the hospital and guess what? She was right. Almost all his cousins, uncles and aunts were there, standing around. The cousins who were all older to him looked very dull, the ladies were crying and the men looked very grave. The boy went and stood near one of his cousins and asked him what was wrong? Why were his aunts crying? He said nothing and kept spitting out of the window. The little boy walked around and when the ladies saw him walking towards them, they scared him away by crying even harder. So he decided to be all by he-self. He kept walking around and finally reached a glass door through which he peeked in to see his dad lying on a bed, all smiling and having a little chat with his youngest brother. Should he go in? He couldn't decide and so he walked back to his cousin near the window and stood there waiting for, he didn't know what? About 15 minutes or so passed and he heard the ladies screaming at the top of their voices. This time he knew something had happened. He went near the glass door and saw his dad lying with his eyes closed and with a sweet smile on his face.
The doctors declared him 'dead'!
He had a cardiac arrest and the doctors said the medicines couldn't do him any good 'coz he smoked heavily that day and had liquor in his blood.
Dead? Now, what does that mean? The boy couldn't understand death except that it means there are going to be no more Saturday cricket matches and Chess games 'coz the main striker in his cricket team and his only opponent in those chess games had retired to a never-return land.
His maternal grandpa came to him, when he returned from the hospital and lay flat on the sofa and told him he should not take this too hard and that it's a time for him to act like a real MAN. He smiled back at his grandpa and said, "I know. I understand".
Understand? But what? He never understood death even after 14 years of his dad's demise 'coz he had never been dead in his life!
And that's the story of me and my dad and this is one of the most 'memorable' days in my life, the 6th of June, 1995.
My dad was very passionate about music and he had a music troop of his own before he got married to my mom. A popular practising physician he was, he was also popular amoung his friends as a singer, a lead guitarist, good at tabala and four other musical instruments (mridangam, jazz drums, veena and mandolin). I've listened to him singing on stage only once and needless to say, I stood there mesmerised at his rendition. And here I'm, all shameful that I cannot even strum a guitar and draw some music out of it. He was the one who introduced me to classical music (both western and eastern), which I still love the most. He was also a good listener and I've seen people coming to him with their emotional problems and seeking his advise. He was also a lead actor in stage plays during his graduation days. And above all, he was the greatest dad and the best-est thing ever to have happened to me.
And I sing this song as a dedication to him. This song is from one of his most favourite of the western singers, Jim Reeves. I've tweaked the lyrics a bit (just replaced "mother" with "father" and "her" with "his").
This world is not my home | Upload Music
People who'd like to get the full lyrics of this song, please visit: www.listen2mesing.blogspot.com