Father’s Day

AppaWhen he died, my father (Appa) left me no legacy.

True, we got a nice house, but he bought it after my mother and I used “undue influence” on him to take a loan to buy it. His assumption was that the comfort of the house was diluted by the discomfort of borrowing. Though an honours graduate in economics, he never understood money or investment.
This naiveté had some positives. Like, my sister and I grew up thinking that we were rich. How did an honest middle-rank police officer sustain such an illusion? Firstly, he showered us with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of books. He bought books to commemorate every occasion (good, bad, sad, mad…).Money was no constraint for books: our house had a separate book room with 100s of books collected over many years. It had every conceivable subject: travelogues, philosophy, history, mysticism, sciences, photography, cinematography etc. From that magic room I had been everywhere and experienced everything, without moving at all!
I ingested books beyond my age and this sometimes put me in trouble. Once in primary school I talked about airplanes that break the sound barrier: the teacher had no clue what it meant (it was early 1960’s) and admonished me for talking nonsense. My friends ridiculed me and I became a pariah. One shelf was devoted to humour alone: it even had the latest Playboy jokes. My dad never restricted me to any genre, so Playboy taught me all I needed to know about the birds and bees (and with a sense of humour).
The other wonderful thing he did, was to take me to remote villages in his Jeep. He would put me up in a Government Travelers’ Bungalow with my books. During the day I devoured all the books under a tree while he worked in the sun. By evening I was ready for fresh adventures. He would take me to the exciting spots of the village: sometimes it was an ancient temple, sometimes a ruined fort or a picturesque lake. He would explain the history of all those exotic wonders that were inaccessible to the urban tourist.
Appa loved food, especially traditional food. His assistants knew this, and they would feed him intelligence on this. Appa would suddenly stop his Jeep on the highway and say “ Daiy, did you know that you get excellent Dosas here?” Invariably, it would be a small kitchen with a thatched roof, run by a Pop-&-Mom partnership. The ambience was certainly not 5 star, but the pleasure was cloud 9 !
Appa was an accomplished Carnatic musician- he performed in the All India Radio in his youth. He accumulated reams of music books and Terabytes of knowledge on musicology. That I didn’t learn traditional Indian music was a great disappointment to him. He said, “one day you will regret it”. I do, really. But fortunately he gave me something more priceless — an eclectic appreciation of music. I love every kind of music— Carnatic, Filmi, Arab, Turkish, Spanish, Jazz, Pop, Classical…. Whenever I talk about music to old friends of the family, they exclaim “why, you sound just like your father!”
Yes, my father left me no material legacy !

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One thought on “Father’s Day

  1. Going on camp trips with him was the BEST! How many fathers have given such quality time to their kids? I love this piece!

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