Monday, January 19, 2009

Fathers and Sons

My room is empty again, after nearly three years. Archana and the kid are in Jammu for two months and I'm back to bangalore, back to the routine after spending a week with them. I'd secretly wished for this solitude, waited to be alone here, with my dreams, with my freedom but now....I miss them. I miss my son, I miss his laughter, his kisses, his mischiefs, his tears, his complaints...This attachment is new to me.


It's newyear eve and I'm leafing through a book when Dad clears his throat. 'We've brought a
bottle of whiskey,' he hesitates.'Would you like to have some?' I refuse but he insists: 'Just a
small one.' After sometime he goes upstairs, sits with my brother-in-law with the bottle and two glasses and they're on the way to welcome the newyear in high spirits.

What's amazing is the degree of openness that has developed between Dad and me over the past few years. I couldn't have imagined him offering me a drink, say five years ago but things have changed slowly. He's relaxing into a sober background and allowing things to happen, immersing himself into his favourite activity: writing short stories. He has a strong attachment towards my son, and tejas too prefers to spend more time with him whenever Dad's at home. Sometimes dad will be out for the whole day and upon returning at night, he'll walk up two storey's to our room to cuddle our son, just because he couldn't do so in the day.

At home sometimes I fly into a rage when tejas is admonished or glared at for his antics, and soon I'll be lecturing all and sundry about proper child-rearing practices. Dad watches silently, maybe amused, maybe feeling helpless because his role is limited only to offering love to his grandson and nothing more. Then he sighs. 'Our kids grew up so fast, maybe we should've spent more time with them, given them more attention...'

It could be his constant interaction with my son which opened bridges between me and Dad. Or maybe it's so with all parents--with age, you mellow and soften towards your kids, overlooking their drawbacks, understand them more. Or maybe it's the other way; becoming a parent makes one more responsive, understanding and forgiving towards his parents

Your upbringing contributes most towards making you the person you are. But sometimes you defy it, positively. Dad grew up in harsh conditions yet was far more gentle and compassionate than what his upbringing was expected to make of him. Maybe it was his reading, his creative abilities or some inner inspiration that shaped his personality, rather than the humiliations, loneliness and insults he faced growing up in a backward village. If only his Dad had been as responsive and attentive as he was, if he had met someone like my guru at a young age, if this and if that....

Nope. Life is just and fair as it is, beyond our myopic preferances. Dad's and Mom's parents shaped their lives the way my parents shaped mine and helped me become the person I am today. And when I and Archana take decisions for our kid, we're aware that every step we take will contribute hugely towards his future, towards his personality, his character.

That makes it all the more challenging amidst the fun, inspiration and exhilaration of parenthood.


I'm reminded of a wonderful poem from one of Tabor's life stories. A tribute to her dad: 'Salt of the earth'. How many times have I read it!


  1. You are so right about our upbringing contributing to making us the persons we become. So true, even when we try to defy or rebel against it. And the point about understanding your parents only when you become a parent - I have felt it so many times.
    I have felt just like you; so many times I have wished someone would take care of my daughter while I used the time to do something I liked. But the moment she is off, i start missing her! I suppose that is natural to a parent.

  2. Mmm. And I realize that the bond with the offspring is the strongest and that attachment is very difficult to overcome. We used to visit our native in the summer vacations, for two months. Our dad would accompany us and Mom would finish all our packing and wave us goodbye. As we'd leave, she'd stand outside the gate for a long time, teary eyed, suppressing her emotions. I never understood why she should feel emotional when we'd come back in just two months. Now, I know how she must've felt.

  3. Being a new grandparent, maybe I can see things from a broader perspective. Realising the continuation of things (even though change is the most constant thing in our lives) comes from having a grandchild which shunts you immediately onto another rung of the ladder. You see a bigger horizon, you cant help it.

    But there is such delight in being able to cuddle and love the small human that you are bound to, but not responsible for.

    I bet your Dad would walk up a hundred flights of stairs to be with Tejas.

  4. I am very flattered by the link. It is such a shuddering sadness to lose you parents. Yes, your father is becoming more mellow as he can see the bigger picture, as Val suggests. But I also think you have changed as well and your father is beginning to see the new you.