Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Father and Me.

My relationship with my dad is an interesting one. It started with a sense of wonder as to who is he? 

I was 9 months old, when he was called upon by duty (no he is not in the army or any forces,) but none the less, duty called and he had to leave for Japan to bring back to India its first oil drilling rig Sagar Samrat. He was one of the electrical engineers on board. New job, new marriage, new daughter, the thrill and the honor of being chosen as one of the few to bring Sagar Samrat home. Very exciting times  for him. I was more than a year old, when he came back, and my mom now laughingly shares stories of how amused I was when everyone told baby Shilpa, that aren't you excited, "papa is coming home tomorrow," and there I would be wondering what is Papa? 

Sagar Samrat India's first drilling rig on a Rs. 1.00 note.
To be a part of this expedition, definitely a moment of pride. 
A 41 year old Japanese Doll.
He came and I hid behind my Mom's Saree, for I had never seen him before. He brought me the prettiest Japanese doll. The doll that my mom has so preciously preserved.Today after 41 years it still continues to sit demurely in my parents living room as the gentle and proud reminder of 1973. I don't remember my reaction to the doll, but I hope I had smiled.

My dad has a very distinctive voice, one of those voices that you hear once, it's kind of hard to forget. In fact many of his long lost friends and clients may forget his name, but they don't forget the voice. As an adult today, I can appreciate the base and depth of the voice, but as a one year old, I was scared of the heavy voice.  It took a while for me to warm up to him. Life moved on, 4 years later my parents were blessed with a son and I with a brother. But my relationship with dad, a strange mix of fear, respect, admiration and love continued to be the same.  

It wasn't until 10th grade when the fear started to vanish. 10th in India is a big deal. Students go through their Board Exams, which basically decides the path for the college. A high percentage gets one into science classes and a lower translates to commerce classes. Why, I have no clue. They both are equally challenging. But anyways, he declared, that I am not allowed any external tutors, for he is going to tutor me. Imagine my plight.  I mustered up the courage to tell him, that no matter how silly my mistake, he will not get angry.  I made him promise me. Sort of like a pinkie swear my son makes me do now. He agreed. And so started phase 2 of bonding with my father. 

Life moved on, after X came XII and then college. It all went off well. I know he cried at my graduation in engineering. Then came the job part. Working for others somehow never gelled with me. I tried it back then too and did not like it.  One day seeing me watching T.V at 10.00am in the morning,   he just said "Why don't you come work for me instead of watching this silly movie." I was 21 then. And yes, in India its not a taboo to be living with your parents at that age, in fact in 1992 it was a taboo if you didn't.  

Traditionally in India daughters leave their parents home only when they get married.  

I said okay and started working for him. And this began phase 3 of my relationship with my dad. A more matured relationship. This phase taught me about the working world. It taught me about organizing, planning, taking decisions, people skills, working on a computer and most importantly it taught me how to be an adult. This phase eliminated all fear and anxiousness. What was left was only respect, admiration and love.  It was during this phase I learnt the difference between hearing and listening, it was here that he taught me the difference between looking and seeing, it was here that he taught me all that I know. 

Time doesn't stop for anyone, and thankfully so.  It did not stop for me too... I got married, moved to U.S without a tear in my eye. That was a promise I had made to myself, I will not leave my parents home with tears, but a smile. It was a year later when I went back home and in one of the lighter conversations told how surprised I was that he did not cry during the marriage. It was then that he told me that after he had dropped off the last guest at the railway station, he found a bench and cried all he wanted. That night I cried too.  

Today the relationship that started from a sense of wonderment has evolved into a fatherly friendship. The girl who was scared to talk to her dad, today can talk to him about her pregnancy stories, parenting issues, and time value of money with equal ease. She has grown up and so has he. 

Today she knows that while dads are tough and strong they are also very soft and gentle, and I think they both agree that "daughters bring out the softer side of dads." 

Happy Fathers Day Papa ! 


  1. So touchy Shilpa!. Very well expressed. I can completely relate to Uncle's voice.

  2. Dad's relation with daughter is mostly ubderstood by the two in relationship! its always of fear respect n love.
    Shil..uncle's voice is very unique and i love to hear it!!!
    Happy father's day!! to all of us for having wonderful fathers in the world..

    1. ;) I do remember all of you being a little wary of him the first time you met him.

      I am sure its different now.