Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Most Understated Human in the World.

All praise is to the Almighty in whose hand rests my soul, and the dominion of the heavens and the Earth.

Of all of Allah’s magnificent creations, one of the most misunderstood creations is The Father.

Yup, in continuation of my last post, this one is to the Man of the house. The Captain of the ship, the Commander in chief of the Space Mission called Family life.

My dad, to begin with, is amazing. The only regret is that I realized it pretty late. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him a lot. But admiration of someone comes out of the deep thought and understanding in what that person does. You will never respect a car unless you understand how a car should behave. Similarly, you will never understand family life unless you understand how the Father behaves, and once you see a fine example of a house, look at the paternal leader and you are sure to find (8 out of 10 times), a disciplined, principled and magnanimous face lined with seriousness towards the emotion known as Love. (Feminists who are reading this chill out, Mothers play an equally important role and I understand that ;-) so put away your pitchforks.)

Fathers, unlike mothers, have a very short lived span in which they can love a child without any barriers. This lasts from the teary moment they first hold their baby in their arms, or in some cases, from the first instance when they know they will be Dads, and it culminates on the most impressive and lasting step of the child, The First Step.
That is, more often than not, the last time a Father will show his emotions of love, pride, joy and thankfulness with absolutely no barrier. Holding a child’s hand with his fingers, he’ll guide it to take its first unbalanced step, and hold up the childs entire weight so that the kid doesn’t have to balance its lard, but just move those chubby squiggly feet in a walking fashion. This is the beginning of the end so to speak.

From here on, as fast as the child learns to walk and run, the father understands the need to regulate where the learning feet wander. And slowly begins the masking of that display of love and affection which until now was filled with kisses, childish screams with the kid, hugs and night long vigilances humming songs so that the apple of his eye can fall asleep.

My Father, was out of the country while I was preparing to touch ground in Bangalore.

He spent the last few days before my birth in teary prayers for mom’s health and my safe arrival. He didn’t know what he was getting, but he prayed that it comes safe. I’ll confess that during my high school days in Mysore, I chanced upon his old collection of personal diaries. And the suspense was too much to push away. I picked up the brown one with the leather engraved numbers 1985. And turned to November. I could see the entries of 13, 14 and 15 were besought with prayers and hope and small details of his job where he probably had no focus. And then I turned to November 16…..He had written a small paragraph stating how the delivery had gone fine, and that entry ended with one line…


I could imagine his eyes welling up in tears, his dimpled cheeks in a gratitude filled smile as he bowed his head and made dua for my entire future to be blessed. To this day I pray and hope that someday, I can do the same for my kids.

Again, its sad that I have no memory of the way dad first held me in his arms, how he carried me around and sung me to sleep. I saw it all when I was 4 years old and my little bro was born. But I still missed the memory of the time he pampered me, bought toys for me without me asking them, laughed with me and tried to understand me when all I could babble from that toothless mouth was phenomenal amounts of gibberish.

If only that memory had sustained, I would probably not have cribbed the dad didn’t love me, or didn’t buy me stuff, or laugh at my jokes, or even the classical, YOU DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND ME DAD kind of lines.

The moment he held my hands and taught me to walk, he morphed from Mother part 2 to Father, where it became his foremost duty to make sure I didn’t run around too carelessly, didn’t speak out of turn, learnt manners of sitting and talking to people, learnt the duties of being a man in short. Mom would teach the same, but bringing the authoritative and proverbial iron fist down on our stupid little craniums is not what moms are built for.

But the entire disciplinarian deal goes pretty long way. They mask the love they wish to show to their kids at special moments. This kind of hampers the growing child in a way. At first I thought it was wrong on their part, but then, watching my dad I learnt that it wasn’t his fault, he was programmed that way.

His Father, my granddad, who fathered 10 kids (8 sons and 2 daughters) had to have a strict outlook to keep the brood contained. So all the kids grew up with a level of discipline where they have NEVER looked their father in the eye while talking. His way of showing affection was different. If ever he scolded one of the kids, that evening, that kid would be treated extra specially. Grandpa would ask him to sit next to him at dinner, a place of honour. And he would explain a simple philosophy which my dad resonates to this day, he would say, “Son, I had to correct you today and get angry at you. Because what you were doing was wrong. I had to show anger because that is how I love you. You will not understand this today, someday, when You are a Father, you will.”

In urdu it went like “…..Kisi din jab aap sahib-e-aulaad banoge, tab aap samjhoge…”

Those words are etched in my heart so deep that I understand how hard it is to be a Father.

Being strict is pretty easy, but being strict for the right reasons, with the right intensity, that requires character and a persona reeking with selflessness.

A Father will scold you, beat you, yell at you in front of others, for a reason. He wants your perfection. He knows it comes at the risk of the child losing his love and grumbling at him even though it is for the child’s own good, yet he does it unwaveringly.

This has a domino effect. The child grows up fearing things which he/she has been taught are wrong. And the deeper this lesson is taught, with the catalyst information of Why somethings are wrong, the longer the lesson’s effects remain. This in turn results with the son becoming a better father tomorrow.

A father has to buy stuff for the family, and there are times when he has to reject the wants of his kids. Because he understands where to draw the line between pampering and making absolute spoilt brats.

They say that to learn swimming, you have to jump in the water first. A Father is a launching mechanism which throws you in the water.

My dad made one tough choice back in 1999. To send me away to India, far away from him and mom, to study and learn to swim the seas on my own. All I had were his prayers, a few of his habits and his love for reading.

Those three combined to give me an understanding of him in specific and Fatherhood in general over 8 years, that he would never be able to put in words over 80 years.

That’s the thing about Fathers, they are hopeless with words. They show their love in the most un-expected of manners, and they don’t feel heartbroken that we don’t pick up the signs. For them, its enough that they love us and they know it. They live with this firm belief that someday, we will understand what it is like to be in those tough shoes.

I admire this generation of fathers a lot though, they are slowly moulding in the fact that saying I LOVE YOU SON does not make them sound weak. And here’s a standing ovation for my dad who’s said it so many times to me, and so many many more times to himself. For making an effort dad, Thank you.

All in all, as you grow through teens and even later, you will resent your dad a lot, and he knows this. Oh he knows it wayyyy to well. But mark my words guys, someday, when you have a toddler just 5 minutes old yelling at the highest shrillest note its brand new voice box can manage, you will know exactly how your old man felt.

Fathers don’t cry, not in front of their kids, but I know for a fact, that there are innumerable moments when a father, hidden away from the entire world, including his wife, sits in front of Allah, head bowed, hands raised, tears welling up in his eyes and quivering voice….asking for his child to pass his exams, to make it through his tribulation, to get well from an illness or simply, to be happy.

Sit back, close your eyes and think about the awesome times you’ve spent with your dads. They are rare, but each one of them has a fragrance which will last hundreds of years to come. Think about the times he has beaten you or slapped you, and try remembering why he did that, 9 out of 10 chances are that you behaved like a stubborn ass. Try remembering the astounding amount of pain he's borne to put you all through your education and manage the entire family. The sacrifices he's given to pay for your small happinesses, and the unaccountable times he's fought for you. Be thankful for them today, else your kids will not be thankful for your efforts tomorrow. And then, call/msg/write or face your dad, look into those eyes which have been so understated, look into the experience they have accumulated, and just say, I love You dad. For all I know, he’ll feel like he has been hit by a thick pillow, will stumble upon a few words and mumble an I love you too ;-) And that’s what makes such a dramatic effect. That he makes the effort to say that.

Mom always told us, that Jannah (Paradise) is at a Mother’s feet, but she always used to add, That door to Jannah is locked, those keys are at your dad’s feet. ;-)


farh said...


amazing! :D

I somehow feel I love my dad more than I love my mom but then when I show this unknowingly through actions, Dad always subtly reminds me that it's Mom who should come first and paradise is at her feet :P

D said...

beautiful....made me think back to all the amazing times I've had with my father..