My friend Jae Rajesh, who, to most people we know, comes across as someone sans emotions, someone who is in control regardless of the situation. Reading this tribute that he wrote for his deceased father was a moment of revelation, not just for me, but for all our friends....
My father was quiet man, very hard working, but with his own human failings. His priority was his children and did all he could for them. Some of us turned out well, some not as comfortable. Till the moment of his passing, I know, he always nurtured the doubt within him, if he did enough. This is my feeble attempt to tell him he did.
I know that this letter will pleasantly surprise you, because you are not used to being thanked for being our parent. In fact you are not used to be thanked for anything at all. In our culture, so much is taken for granted. So were you. But that does not take away your achievements of parenthood.
Father, we did not thank you for your struggles in our early years, in fact even before I was born. We did not thank you, when you had to cycle 30 kms each day to your factory and back, then after returning home make go-carts out of coconut palms and whistles out of leaves for us, enthusiasm overriding the exhaustion of the day’s work. For providing us a respected household, a strong background and a social standing that even today when I visit my place of birth, people I do not even know about (not surprising as it’s now nearly 40 years, since we left) extend me and my family courtesies that are deeply touching, to say the least.
We did not thank you, for the special tutors of music and dance for your children, for, at that age and time, you were ahead of others and believed that schooling alone was not good enough for your children and for bailing out and standing by my brothers from the numerous afflictions of school and college politics.
We did not thank you for taking the heart wrenching decision to send us to a far away metropolis while you slogged on alone, determined to give us a decent chance at education which was impossible at home due to absurdly increased political activism. I know now, what it feels to be away from the family and I know now, what you have endured for our future.
We did not thank you, for selling the house which you built, brick by brick, the envy of the neighborhood, so that you can afford to give the best of education and future to your children. And at an age when you were meant to lead a retired life of relaxation, you slogged on till your defiant body finally gave in to the ravages of old age.
And I did not thank you, for giving me character, the will and stubbornness to pursue my goals, gifting me genes that people are envious of and the ability to enjoy hard work. For accepting me as an adult much ahead of norm, respecting and standing by my rebelliousness, showing patience in understanding my arrogance and pride, having faith and confidence in me and my decisions, things which only few fathers could have accepted. For taking my side as I brought in a bride of a different faith, accepting and loving her as a daughter more than your own and teaching me in that one instance to be true to your faith regardless of the religion you practice.
I did not thank you for a happy and normal childhood or for the few days that I could enjoy your company in my adult life, when you blended into your son’s family like a fairy tale, giving your grandsons some memories to cherish.
I did not thank you, for teaching me all this by living your life, through unspoken words and silent deeds.
I did not even thank you, as I walked with the clay pot on my left shoulder, during your final journey.
I can feel the twinkle in your eyes and the warmth of your smile as I am writing this, now that you are in a place and position from where you can see all and understand all. I have only one thing to say to you, “Thank you, Achha! You did well!!!”