I didn’t even realise it was Father’s Day until I woke up and my mother reminded me about it. Time does these things to people. We get so caught up in the quicksand of everyday that we forget important things, important dates, important people. Etc.
So. It is Father’s Day today. In my opinion, it should be Father’s Day everyday, as it should be Mother’s Day and Poetry Day and Siblings Day and what have you will, every day. But we live in a world that sets aside times and dates to accrue importance to relationships we should be thankful for daily, so, yes, it is Father’s Day today.
These days, whenever I talk about life, I inadvertently talk about death. Or maybe, it’s the other way around. Whenever I talk about death, I find myself talking about life.
In the last few months, as a family, we’ve seen a lot of death. I nearly lost my mother in May this year. I nearly lost my father in 2012. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, these last few years. In May, strangely enough, I found myself in a place where I had to sit down and think about incidents where I would have to deal with the death of my loved ones. Inadvertently, the first person I thought of was my father.
(Anyone who knows me, knows that my father is my best friend. He was my first friend, first confidante, first playmate, first guide, first teacher, first partner-in-crime, first buddy. You know what they say about firsts. Your firsts usually set the standard for the type of people you invite into your life. But. I digress)
So there I am, sitting with a pen and paper, and thinking about how I would feel if my father died. The explosiveness of my own reactions over this hypothetical incident completely stunned me. I was writing, and wailing, mouth wide open, tears streaming down my face, feeling bereft and lost and lonely, going through every single emotion I would feel if it were to really happen. It was explosive. It was terribly shocking.
My father found me later during the day, nursing a cup of tea, eyes swollen and squinty, and asked if I was all right. I told him curtly that I had cried because I’d had to go through the death of my loved ones, and his was the first one I had thought about. He had a look of immense surprise on his face.
“You mean you will really miss me that much when I’m gone?”
It took me aback, this question. It also gave me a much needed slap in the face about the kind of communicator I was (those of you who know me personally will sense the irony in this statement).
I had always presumed that my father knew how much I loved him. I have always been terrible at telling my family how much they mean to me, but over the last few years, I had begun to make concerted efforts to speak to them more, be more physically affectionate, show my emotions more, etc.
Clearly, I hadn’t been doing as much of as it as I thought I had.
I don’t think I answered my father that day.
Only because, well, I’ve always been much better at writing about how I feel than talking about it.
The truth is, I’m the biggest groupie my father can ever have. It’s not because he buys me chocolates when I’m lonely and miserable (milk chocolates with almonds in them, no eggs); it’s not because he used to give me money on the sly when I wanted to buy books which my mother had strictly forbidden because “too many books in the house, Arathi!”; it’s not because he takes care of my mother (and me) day and night when we aren’t well; it’s not because he always lets me play the music I want when we’re in the car together; it’s not because he follows me to watch my favourite actor’s films even though he hates said actor (not telling you who that is); it’s not because he makes fun of me at every chance he gets….
I’m my father’s biggest groupie because he is the only man I know who lives a life by example; something that I aspire to attain so ardently. He’s the man who first taught me that above and beyond every other principle in life, kindness was what I had to hold true to myself. He didn’t just tell me that, he lived by it. Everything I’ve learnt about treating other people, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about being a listener, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about discipline, good lord, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about breaking rules and following my heart, I’ve learnt from my father.
I mean, how could I ever not love him when he’s given me the most important things in life to live with?
I know you’ll eventually read this, Dad, not because you actually check my blog conscientiously like I wish you would *cough*, but because I’m going to send this to you the moment I’m done.
You’re an inspiration to me because you’re an everyday hero. You make people’s lives better by being just who you are, nothing more, nothing less. You have a wicked sense of humour, which has taught me that nothing in life should be taken too seriously, that nothing in life is beyond laughter. You have taught me the best medicine to anything, and everything, is love, love, love, and that when you treat people right, the world aligns itself to you in the rightest of ways.
Thank you for being my inspiration, but more than anything else, for being my best friend, even if you’re a little weird sometimes, and even if we have arguments about the most inane of things.
Your life will always be a celebration for me, Dad. Thank you for teaching me that, as well.
Happy Father’s Day.