My dear Papa,
Happy 60th Birthday!
It’s a big one this year and I wanted to write a letter to you today. I know I have not written to you for as long as I can remember but so what? A letter is good anytime. 🙂 Today evening, when you will login to check your mails, you will see this post and this will hopefully be a better birthday wish than my few words in the morning. Like what I said over the call, I want to wish you a very healthy and happy year ahead through this post as well.
It seems just like yesterday when C and I would step out a day before your birthday to buy you an audio cassette of Madhuri Dixit’s movie from our pocket-money or we would find the latest Jagjit Singh’s album for you. The one that you had planned to get recorded at that shop in Chowk. And how you would smile and say, “Thank you, this was not required”.
Today is a day to tell you how much I have learnt from you and how this learning never stops. You amaze me with your awareness on almost everything possible and how I know you are so honest in everything you do and say. So much so that many a times, I am worried in that in this big bad world, how do you trust so easily?
I have learnt from you that staying positive in all situations gives us the confidence to brave through whatever comes our way. Whether it was my jaundice when I was appearing for standard twelfth examinations or my failure at the IIT JEE, you were always there to tell me to look for a silver lining. You gave me the confidence to move to Noida for engineering, to come to Bangalore for my first job, to again go back to college and all cos that was what I wanted to do. You never accompanied me to settle me down in a new city while fathers of other friends did. You never got my reservation tickets done when there was no online ticketing. You always told me how to fill the form and get it done on my own. You taught me to depend on my own self and no one else. I always complained that my parents never came to visit me when I was in Nagpur for two years but which other parent had that kind of rock solid trust to never visit and believe in all that I did?
I have learnt from you that books are the best gifts. When you used to return from the Indian History Congress or your stay at IIAS, Shimla, your suitcase used to be loaded with books for us. Ruskin Bond, Rabindranath Tagore, audio cassettes from Shanti Niketan and so many other things of value. That time I used to wonder why Mum gets clothes and we get books. Now I know if I hadn’t got those books I would not have known who wrote “Where is mind is without fear, and the head is held high. ” and what it means when I was a teenager. Through your gift of New Year diaries and note books, I knew that you were encouraging us subtly to put our thoughts to writing.
I have learnt from you that food should not be wasted and what’s on our plate should be finished. Even if it is not good to taste, it can still find a way to the tummy. I have learnt from you that if someone comes home, they should not leave hungry. Like you, I like offering lunch and dinner and even though I don’t cook on a regular basis, I don’t mind cooking when people drop by suddenly. Like you, I can survive on rice and non-veg is the best thing ever. Like you I am open to experiment various cuisines and I tend to over indulge.
I can’t forget that late evening of December 6, 1992 when we were playing outside and there was a power cut. There were some guests at home and you and mum were inside when there was a sudden commotion in the colony. The news of Babri Masjid demolition came and in no time, C and I were on a terrace along with some older boys who escorted us there to bang plates and rolling pins. C and I thought it was a game and we were having fun with so many other children. Suddenly, I heard you calling my name very loud. So loud that I knew I had done something wrong. We ran down and this was the first time I saw you angry. I had tears in my eyes not knowing what I had done but then you took us both in the living room and told us what had happened. You told us that our actions on the terrace meant that we were happy with the demolition of the mosque and that’s when I understood what I had done. I cannot be happy with a place of God being demolished. I don’t care if there was a temple before or a mosque or who owns that land. I don’t care if it is in Ayodhya or Agra. Babri masjid was the place where God resided and when it was blown up, it was not right. I understood that I am not a Hindu or a Muslim and that I have no religion. I am an Indian and no Indian can take pride in such acts of shame.
I have learnt so much from you that all that cannot be summed here on this one post. On your birthday, I want to tell you how lucky I am to be born as your daughter. How lucky I am, that I had you to watch my back when I needed you the most. How lucky I am to have your genes and like you I love to read and write. I also want you start writing regularly. I want you to do all that you wanted to do when you were 30. Life is too short to wait for retirement and like you wanted me to step out of my comfort zone and experience the world, I want you to do two things everyday – write and take a walk. I want to share your posts like you share mine with everyone. I want good health for you so that you never have to depend on any one.
Papa, this day is special and I want you to know how much I love you and how much I miss seeing you every single day. I left home when I was 17 so my connection has not been physical but one that’s of the hearts. I don’t come home to see Mum and you that often but sitting on my couch writing this, my heart is in that lobby where you are having tea and reading this.
Happy Birthday Papa! May this day bring the best always!
Lots of Love