Friday, January 22, 2021

Facets of fatherhood – Happy Father’s day

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Countless gallons of tears, be they the Nirupa Roy variety on 70 MM or the Sita- Kaushalya variety on the idiot screen, have been dedicated to eulogise the sacred nurturing maternal instinct that supposedly underpins both family and society. Alas, the man who was always by your side when you had that usual argument with your mum, the man who lifted you on his shoulders so that you could have a better view, the man who fought his tears bravely when you finally made the big move outside the protective cocoon of his love and responsibility, was always happy to remain in the shadows – unnoticed and mostly overlooked. Let’s look take a closer look at the multiple facets of fatherhood.

Probably because he eternally acknowledged his wife’s 24/7 presence in the family, who ungrudgingly embraced all domestic accountabilities on his behalf while he was away facing the harsh, cruel world by himself.

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He discussed academics, literature, politics and career choices with you, but there was always that formal distance… He was there to solve all the world’s rocket science problems for you, but simply nodded with pride when you were vindicated.

He was a fountain of knowledge and patiently persisted in answering the silliest of questions you could ever ask. He inspired you to be strong and have faith. He taught you integrity and to be brave and decisive in the face of dilemma. He instilled in you the value of responsibility. He urged you to rise above criticism and demonstrated the value of dignity.

He simply batted his eyelids indulgently when you looked at him after discovering your birthday gift. Yet, he never breathed down your neck when you lost it or broke it. He was never reluctant to get your bike repaired in spite of a bad day at work so that you could win the race the next day.

It was mum into whose lap you hid your head whether you were sad or happy, while he was a man of few words…yes even when you thought you had committed the gravest of mistakes – but he was never hesitant to give you a second chance. An important facet of fatherhood is to protect you from harm, so when you unknowingly dozed off into sound slumber after the fever had subsided, he was there by your side all night, gently stroking your head.

At times, you would be put off when he stood rock still and never even held out his hands while you embraced mum tightly and wept, on homecoming. But again, a facet of fatherhood is to be the hero, and heroes don’t break down and weep.

He inspired you to be strong and have faith. He taught you integrity and to be brave and decisive in the face of dilemma. He instilled in you the value of responsibility. He urged you to rise above criticism and demonstrated the value of dignity.

And yes, you were sure that time wouldn’t weaken him. But today when you observe his wrinkled face and his grey hair, see him break into a bout of coughing when a joke is told, or hear him pant on climbing a flight of stairs, it jolts that unswerving confidence in you and makes you wonder whether he’s the same person. Today, when your child kisses her dad and gifts him with a bunch of flowers saying ‘My daddy is the best’ on Father’s Day, it makes you want to run back in time and give him that hug he must have craved for and deserved …but never expressed.

It’s not too late, hopefully for Papa, Babuji, Baba, Appa, Pitaji, Abba or simply Dad. You don’t want to trivialise anything by saying the never said ‘thank you’ suddenly on one particular day. But maybe this Father’s Day, you, I and all of us just want to bow down and salute the person whose presence has completed our lives and provided profound meaning to it.

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