Father’s Day 2018

Yesterday, in some parts of the world, it was Father’s Day. My entire Facebook and Instagram feeds were flooded with messages and photographs, mostly of daughters posting about their fathers. Wishes, joy, and love abounded. It was lovely. It was also gut-wrenching.

I managed to stay calm throughout the day, reacting appropriately to posts and any jokes that came my way. Of course, the reminder that my father wasn’t around was omnipresent, but it didn’t overwhelm me. None of my friends or acquaintances was out to hurt me with these reminders of Father’s Day, and I kept that thought firmly fixed in my mind as I reacted to them.

Finally, I thought I was past the danger zone of having a breakdown when today dawned. But naturally, the universe wasn’t as obliging as all that. Because I came across this Bored Panda article.

Not going to lie, tears welled up, as I scrolled through the photographs. The emotions writ so large on each father’s face as he first beheld his daughter in a wedding dress. It was magical. And I am still fighting back tears as I write this.

When we lost my father in 2016, I told my mother that I couldn’t conceive of having any milestones without him: my wedding, my first child, perhaps some more children, my first home, etc. He wouldn’t meet my husband, and my husband in turn wouldn’t have met this all-important figure of my life. My children wouldn’t know their grandfather. It was all too raw and impossible to grapple with in that time of grief.

Over the months hence, I have accepted many of the changes that comes with losing a loved one. There were many moments where I have stopped for a fragment of a moment and smiled at what I imagine would have been my father’s reaction, if he had been around. The moments are always sweet and filled with love, but tinged with undeniable loss and sadness too.

I can imagine my father’s face if had seen me in my wedding outfit. He wouldn’t have cried, no, but looked at me fully with those great big hazel eyes, filled with emotion. He wouldn’t have said that I looked beautiful to me, but turned around to my mother [who WOULD be crying or exasperated with me] and said that I looked amazing. He would have stepped forward and hugged me, and told me that he wouldn’t give me to anyone and my waiting husband-to-be could go take a hike. [It sounds better in Hindi.] And we would have laughed a little because that was our equation. Oh, he would have also said something about how lucky I was to “have his face” too.

Even though I feel sadness that I will never get to experience this scene in reality, I count myself fortunate that I knew him well enough to play it out in my mind. I feel fortunate to think I had a father that loved me so much that when he saw me, even as an adult, he saw a curly-haired 5 year-old instead. I feel fortunate that, being a daughter, I had a relationship with him that I would never had if I had been born a boy. [Yes, he was really not cut out to be a father to boys. Awful critter. smh.]

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers in the world. Wherever they may be.

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Compassionate Jokes

I have something of an unruly tongue at the best of times, but I learned today that I can control it on occasion.

Previously, when I went out with my family, I often uttered a famous TV dialogue which flummoxed my parents, as evidenced by this sorrowful Facebook post I put up years ago:

There is this celebrated TV show in India called CID. One of the characters, a policeman called “Daya”, is repeatedly asked by his superior officer to break down a door. Since my mom’s name is Daya, it amused me no end to tell my tiny mother to kick down doors. I got a lot of mileage [for myself] out of that quip, before I explained it to my parents.

So the other day, Mom and I had trotted off to the salon to get her a haircut, and we were accosted by a beggar lady on leaving the salon premises. Now, I am not an insensitive soul, but I have learned not to yield to their pleas for money. Food is fine, but money is problematic. [Definitely something I should figure out in another post.]

Now, there are many standard whines that beggars use to importune people into giving them money. This one said: “Please show some compassion.” That is a rough translation from: “Daya karo.

I didn’t say anything, although I was sorely tempted. Adult. *ahem*

Sneak!

My dad was very little like a father, and more like an annoying brother. Or so I am told, because I have no brothers for comparison. There were many times we plotted together, mostly leaving mom out because of her halo. [I told her some of our shenanigans later, and since they were all harmless, she had a good laugh and shook her head.]

But there were times where my dad would have gotten into trouble with her, if she had been with us. Most of those times, I covered for him, because he was chastened enough. [Examples are things like tripping over something because he wasn’t being careful, or eating/drinking something he wasn’t meant to, and the like.]

Except for one time.

Around the time we lost him, the pair of us had trotted off to the market. The market is very familiar, as we go there very often. He wasn’t keeping 100% well, so it was imperative that he wasn’t too far away from me at any point. Plus, he had a new phone, whose ringer was absurdly low for Mumbai. He couldn’t hear it ring, essentially.

I had to stop at a store to pick up a couple of things, but he didn’t want to come in. So we decided to meet in 10 minutes at a nearby eatery for lunch. He would head off there first, since he was tiring and wanted to sit. I headed into the store, and bought the stuff I needed. I then proceeded to head to the eatery. No sign of him.

I was surprised, but not worried yet. I figured he would be in the next eatery, as this one seemed full. Nope. Tried the next, nope. And so on, till I was in the midst of the crowded market, having a complete panic attack.

I tried ringing his phone, but of course he didn’t answer. I went to where we had parked the car, but didn’t see him. I started asking passers-by and shopkeepers whether they had spotted someone of this-and-this description, but no dice. I stood in the middle of the pavement, at my wits’ end, so panicked that even tears had seized in my eyes. I knew calling my mother was the next step, but she would immediately panic and we would have a full-blown crisis on our hands, so I waited.

And then I spotted his salt-and-pepper head bobbing close by. In mingled relief and rage, I ran across roads and people to get to him.

Only to be greeted with the most seraphic smile, and mild surprise: “What happened?” he asks me, with the utmost guilelessness. If ever I came close to strangling my father, it was that moment.

Anyway, I told him off a little, because he never took my annoyance with him seriously anyway. And we proceeded to have lunch, finish our errands, and head home.

When I got home though, I knew I had to tell mom. I asked her to take a seat, and gently told her everything, in front of him. As she proceeded to take in all of what I was saying, the colour drained from her face, and her eyes widened in horror. Only the fact that my father was sitting opposite her, in front of her eyes, stopped her from whipping herself into panic-stricken frenzy.

When I finally finished the tale, my father was fixed with an exceedingly beady-eyed, far from amused look. He grinned at her placatingly, but it didn’t make a dent: “If she had called me before she had found you, you would have gotten the pasting of a lifetime, and I would have walked out of here!”

He had the grace to look at her with a little more shame than I apparently warranted, and said that there was nothing to worry about since he was here now, wasn’t he?

My mother harrumphed, and declined to grace that with a response.

He then turns to me, wrinkles his nose in some disgust, and says: “Sneak! It’s not nice to tell on people, you know!”

That’s when he got a smack from my mother, and I walked out laughing my guts out. Because which father accuses his only child of being a sneak?!

Nothing I Can Do!

Again, need a dear old dad post to wash away the cobwebs. Short one this time.

My mother is quite the character really. She is determined, fearless about her principles, focused on what she needs to do, and impossibly naive in a lot of respects. Before I came along, my father used to point out some of life’s realities to her. Case in point:

He took her to the Taj one evening, and pointed to a group of girls in the lobby. “Look at those girls. They’re escorts,” he said. The almighty sap that is my mother exclaimed, “WHAT?! They’re so well dressed and presentable. How do you know?! No! It can’t be.” After looking at her, with a mixture of what I imagine from later experience to be disgust, pity, and affection, he apparently said, “Never mind. Tumko kuch maalum nahi.” [You don’t know anything.]

That is far less offensive in Hindi than it is in English, and roughly approximates to ‘You’re so naive.’

By the time I came along, he had stopped telling her stuff. Possibly because her reaction is usually loud and explosive, and draws attention when one is trying to be discreet. Her jaw visibly drops and so on. I have written about this before. So when I started “educating” her on things not so politically correct, he was not a fan.

“Don’t teach her all this stuff!” was his almost constant refrain. I gleefully taught her curse words and Internet slang, and watched in side-splitting amusement when these bombs were deployed unexpectedly in public. For instance she once told off a bunch of louts, who were sizing me up, questioning their morals and announcing to the world that they were a bunch of “fucktards”. It was magical.

Invariably though, sometimes these utterances were less than appropriate. In the aftermath of each of those instances, when my mother had cleared a path, I often asked my father where he had managed to find such a specimen to marry.

His response? “I can’t do anything about it now. She’s your mother.”

True that, dad. True THAT.

Handshake

[After the rather dismal turn my posts were taking, I thought a father dear story was in order.]

So this was back in the day, when the ex and I were still an item. He was away sailing, and banter in our home reigned supreme as usual. We were talking about the “sailor”, as my father referred to him. [My father was just being cute. However, the naval hierarchy is so rigid, the ex, was a lieutenant commander at the time, probably didn’t appreciate being likened to what was effectively the rank and file. Colossal ego.]

Anyway.

Mom: *something something about the relationship and future plans*
Dad: “He has to come talk to me first, before I let him marry my daughter!”
Me: *cocking an eyebrow* “Well, this is archaic. He has to come ask for my hand?”
Dad: “Yes. He has to come ask me. I will show him your hand. He can shake it, and go away.”

True story.

[Dad was a little against me getting married, not seriously, but emotionally. He never wanted me to leave home, and when I broke up with the ex, he told my mother: “Good! Tell her to forget marriage, and just change boyfriends every 6 months!”]

Beautiful Miracle

Seeing as the last post was about kids, I remember this post from my old blog. Seemed appropriate.

An Extraordinary Miracle

I would like to recount an extraordinary story I heard from someone. On hearing this story for the first time, any doubts I harboured about the existence of the Great Divine, a. k. a. God, dissolved instantaneously. It was years ago, when I was very young. I have often heard this story repeated, and each time it send a thrill up my spine. Without further ado, the story goes somewhat like this:

It starts off, like all good stories, with a young couple. This couple was highly successful in their respective careers, although remarkably short-sighted about the future. There was no thought given to tomorrow whatsoever. Most Indian couples (I forgot to mention they were Indian), think about progeny at some point of time. These two, perhaps being the exception that proves the rule, didn’t. Children, as a concept, firstly, were lovable, secondly, belonged to other people, and thirdly, will happen at some distant point in the future. And hence, after six years of wedlock, it still hadn’t struck them.

They were based in Dubai, hailing originally from Mumbai. A love marriage had resulted, as a consequence of working together in the same work environment, and constant bickering. But that is another story altogether.

The lady in question, has a sister; a twin as a matter of fact. At that time, she was unmarried, and in Mumbai. She desperately wanted her sister to have a child. So, one fine day, she trotted off to Shirdi, to the hallowed precincts of Sai Baba. There she made a plea bargain, of sorts: ‘God, please grant my sister a child; I will visit this temple five times.’

During this and the subsequent five trips, her sister in Dubai remained blissfully unaware.

It was on the occasion of the fifth and final promised trip, standing in the queue to approach the Samadhi, the twin prayed: ‘If you are going to fulfill my wish, Lord, I want the rose from your head, as a token.’

Now, as an aside, if you have ever been to Shirdi, you know that the crowds are enormous, and, in general, chaos reigns supreme. Standing in the darshan queue is a feat that requires around five hours of patience and, to make matters worse, the queue is serpentine, coiling its way through the building, spilling into the temple premises and sometimes even onto the road.

On reaching the beautiful marble statue and Samadhi, she bowed her head in obeisance, and turned to make her way outside the temple. She was hailed by the priest, who, in front of her unbelieving eyes, grabbed the rose of Baba’s head, placed it in her outstretched hands, and said in Marathi: ‘You asked Baba for this rose? Baba has granted your wish.’

She reached Mumbai the same evening and, at the crack of dawn the next morning, her bemused sister calls up from Dubai to say, she was pregnant.

Quite incredible, isn’t it? When I first heard this story, I was spellbound and speechless. But nevertheless, I believed it without a moment’s hesitation. Why? Because the couple in question are my parents, the twin is my dear aunt, and that is how I was born.

Note: This was an article I had written for my college magazine. I really loved this one, on so many levels: I was really happy about how it turned out, it’s a subject dear to my heart, it reflects a portion of my existence and it was the first time I really believed I could write well.

My mother told me her version of the story as well. That was considerably less divine, and, in keeping with my parents’ general style, considerably more hilarious.

After an evening out at Copper Chimney in Dubai, my mother started throwing up. When she went to work a few days later, she found that her stomach upset [spoiler alert: me] hadn’t gone away. So she went to the hotel doc.

The doc asked her what she think had happened and her symptoms. He checked her, and then asked: “Mrs. Daya, could you be pregnant?”

My mother, being a complete naive nitwit, laughed, and said no. Quite emphatically. So he asked again: “Do you mind if we do a test to check?”

Of course not, suit yourself was the response. Um yeah. She was pregnant. The evidence is typing this post right now.

PS: My name translates to the title. First name: Miracle. Surname: Beautiful. Humour that’s right on the nose.

The Issue of Jack and Jill

I have previously written about the inappropriateness that has somehow condensed itself into a little midget, who often masquerades as my mother. Finding and linking to all those posts would take me hours, so if you haven’t read any of her anecdotes, please take my word for it. She is the pits.

When I was about 7 years old, I was in a religious Christian-owned Indian school in an Islamic country. There was very little in terms of racy fun that passed for acceptable in those hallowed precincts. Plus I was 7. I was a brainless, wide-eyed sap at 16; at 7 I was a walking vacuum, with my head in the clouds.

One fine day, I was reciting a nursery rhyme in school. It was the popular Jack and Jill ditty, albeit with a twist [that I was not aware of at the time]:

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water.
God knows what they did up there,
Because they came down with a daughter.

Let’s just say, for the record, this sort of humour wasn’t acceptable in my school. It is harmless really, a bit tongue-in-cheek at the very most. But in my school? Might as well have had an orgy in auditorium under the portrait of Sheikh Rashid.

A prefect hauled me up.

“WHAT ARE YOU SINGING?”
“Jack and Jill went up the..”
“YES I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME, YOU NAUGHTY GIRL! I AM GOING TO COMPLAIN TO YOUR TEACHER!”
“..?”
*evidently assuming a fellow student had committed the transgression of teaching me this* “WHO TAUGHT YOU THIS?”
“My mother.”
“WHERE IS YOUR MO- Wait what? Your mother? Your MOTHER?”
*nodded emphatically*
*weakly* “Carry on to your class, please.”

Years later, I told my mother this incident. Whenever she remembers it, she still howls at the stymied prudery of my school.

So mature.