“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”
This Mother’s day, my hubby and sister in law lost their father! The irony of losing a parent on such a day was not lost…lost we all were.
My father in law had been a man of few words but whenever he did speak, they were to speak the truth and stand up for the right. A Leo by the letter, he was a righteous man through and through. Being the eldest sibling he shouldered all his responsibilities and only rested when all were looked after the best that he could.
He had a traditional Indian middle class upbringing but brought up his children to question and even go against the tide (backed by his full support) when they were sure of their ways. He believed in them unconditionally and time and again proved that; whether it was forfeiting fees of an MBA school and paying for another school just because that is what hubby wanted, happily marrying of his Jain daughter to a non Jain, followed by his son marrying a Sardarni. When the wedding ‘negotiations’ were going on, he emphatically told hubby and self to just enjoy that time and leave the ‘warfare’ of inter-religion marriage to the parents.
He was very clear and straight line about the way he conducted his life but never did he impose those ways on others. If you asked him for his advice he would share his thoughts and you were free to take it or leave it. Either way he was supportive.
He allowed others to practice their beliefs. He wasn’t the one to remember the words in prayers, but was one of the few who followed the spirit of it. He never stopped my mother-in-law or my husband from going to a Gurudwara. Rituals were not his cup of tea. He would scoff at rituals, which would demand my mother in-law to go hungry or wake up at insane hours to pray, but if my mom in law wanted to go ahead with it, he would participate with his heart and soul.
He had a surprisingly strict demeanor but was an indulgent softy when it came to his children. Hubby fondly remembers how his father would give up his share of the bhindi sabji to hubby just because hubby enjoyed it, he got hubby 100 kites that filled up his room just because hubby wanted it, bought an expensive car stereo system just so that hubby could hear music while travelling even though he could barely afford the car itself. The closest he came to getting upset with his son was when hubby miserably failed in his senior year and was expecting nothing but a good verbal thrashing. But to hubby’s surprise, a lavish meal was ordered to celebrate. But before he could put the first bite in his mouth…my father in law calmly uttered the words, which changed my hubby’s life forever, “Don’t worry, my pension would be able to support you, your wife and your kids in the future”. These few words changed my hubbys’ life forever. No scolding, no name-calling. Just a calm and composed response – speaking volumes about the personality that he was.
He was probably the most deliberative and over cautious person I have ever met and yet loved the thrill of the stock market!
He was a traditional banker at work and an innovative and scientific individual at home. He entertained his kids and later his grandchildren with toys that were rarely shop bought but made with knick-knacks lying around in the house. Wide-eyed grandchildren would anxiously wait to see what else would emerge as a result of their genius grand dad working with his nimble fingers. He indulged them with a drawer full of chocolates (there was always a stash full of chocolates), spent days blowing balloons for the excited bunch, would never step out of the house for anyone unless a grandchild desired, Peanut was his ‘daadu puttar’ (it didn’t matter what Peanut was doing, but whenever Peanut heard those 2 words he would be grinning ear to ear).
My father-in law is gone, but principles and values he espoused and followed would live on. Peanut, Buttercup and their cousins, understand (in whatever way that is possible) that he will forever live on in their memories and that their tiny little hearts will always have a place for this larger than life person – their loving grand father.