Hailing from an orthodox family, being a self-made man rising from poverty, my father has always made sure that his family, as well as those who need help, never remain deprived. As a successful, hardworking and honest banker, he has always been a respectable person in his work field and his area, where people often come to him for writing applications, bank-related papers, and so on. Growing up without his shadow on my head seemed difficult during my school days because my classmates' fathers didn't have a transferable job and they could get all the pampering. I used to see him on weekends, accompany him to the Sunday market and my happiness knew no bound when he brought little things like postcard stamps, toys sold in trains, gift wraps, diaries and pens just like that or as a prize for me standing first in class.
Depression had been evident in my life since my high school years and I started missing him a lot during my final years as he was posted far away then. He could hardly come to meet us. My grades dropped, my rank went down from first to tenth and without actual friends, life became more and more difficult.
Often the depression got so heavy on me and I missed him so much that whenever he called, I would just hold the mobile and sob soundlessly. I couldn't tell him how dejected I felt. My 10th final result was not according to my satisfaction level but he came home that weekend with a 32GB pen drive and kept his hand on my head saying "you did what I couldn't do in my finals, don't be sad". I was a science student but when I told that I would take English Hons instead of Joint Entrance, both my parents were fully supportive.
I got a few traits from him on the way, for example, hiding my pains, being practical, and being kind towards animals. He had an avid interest in boxing, rock climbing and reading various storybooks. As I grew up, I became a voracious reader and he neither thought twice in providing me with the books I loved nor stopped me from buying books with my hard-earned money.
I started going out for treks in the first year of my college, something that the parents of other girls in my circle never considered. I was a full-time content writer while pursuing my M.A and although he is a workaholic who hardly takes his paid leaves, he always complained about why I worked day and night. But when I got my dream camera with one year's savings, he shared that story with others with a glint of pride in his eyes.
He never considered me any different according to my gender and with my mom, he made sure that I became self-sufficient and I am more like a boy in terms of travelling alone, having lots of accidents, speeding and so on - to which, he often says that I was made a girl by mistake!
When I fell in love, although my mom was sceptical, he sat back with me and asked "Have you thought it through? Will you be happy in future? If you are sure, then I am always with you." When I was ditched in the cruellest way possible, I kept that news away from him because I knew it would also upset him. I suppressed all the pain, kept a straight face and yet one evening, got so drunk in a bar that he had to call my uncle to pick me up and take me to their house instead. When I returned the next day, I had my head hung and was not being able to face him, thinking that I let him down.
My mom told me to talk to him and apologise as he had spent the night sobbing and watching the road even though I was at my uncle's. I faced him the next morning as he was tending the rooftop garden and I said sorry while wiping the tears. He just said "Why are you saying sorry to me? Why would you drink to down your sorrow, but not as a celebration in happiness? Why are you still crying over a person who inflicted so much pain? Just forgive him, pity him and make sure to call us next time you go out to let us know when you will return."
Well, my words don't seem to end. That's the thing with my father. So much to say for the person who made me a strong person believing in equality, compassion, honesty and strength. He is working on the frontline as a senior manager in a red zone in this pandemic and I cannot be more proud although worrying about the risk of contamination. There are less than two years from his retirement and I can only imagine how restless he would be while leading a laid-back life!