I am close to my Father, Baba as I call him. He is not keeping well for the past few years, and he remains at the top of my mind during the day. I have started noticing that Baba sneaks into most of the conversations I have with my friends and colleagues. Old age is difficult and old age in India is all the more difficult with hardly any social support from the Government. Anyway, I will save my rant about the Government and it’s inadequacies for another day. As I am growing older (I don’t know about being wiser) I am beginning to experience that love is synonymous with worrying. I found it frustrating and never understood it while I was growing up because I never understood the worrying bit; I am beginning to behave like a worrying parent these days; in a way, though not exactly, My Baba and I are going through a role reversal. And I hate it. I want him to be the stronger one. I want that space and zone unchanged. But I know that the roles are changing. It is so difficult to come to terms with it.
Ours is not just an indulgent father-daughter relationship. We bonded over many things, and then we differed too. Politics, football, cinema, books, his love for Liz Taylor (he was aghast when he figured that our neighbour has named his pomeranian ‘Liz’), Marxian theory of class conflict, geography, history, mental mathematics, our diehard belief that Geeta Dutt was far more talented than Lata Mangeshkar...to name a few. We visited Darjeeling with another family, who were our close friends; that was long ago, I was in my teens. We were playing '20 Questions' on famous personalities. Baba & I were in opposite teams. Every time I thought about someone, even before the third question was popped to me, Baba would make a correct guess about who I was thinking. I had to think really hard to out-do him. The other thing which is a glue to our bond is our love for shopping vegetables, fish and mutton. Even now, we go shopping together whenever we get a chance. He taught me how to figure if the brinjal has seeds and the fish is fresh and ask for those particular pieces while buying mutton. The love for such things has gone so much within me, that even today when I visit another city, another country I’d make it a point to visit the local market along with my love for places with historical significance. Yes, over pubs or nightlife.
Everyplace I go, I carry that childhood with me. Baba is not my hero, neither he is my best friend etcetera ...nothing so theatrical. But I know that there is no other soul in the world who wants my happiness and peace as he does. That is the envelope he & I live in. We have all come in this world with a confirmed return ticket. Yet we all live with a purpose, trying to make the most of this life. I ask myself what will be mine when he is no more. There won’t be any.