Tribute to My Dad on Father’s Day
“Watch out!” my father said, pointing at the toddler, who was making his way towards the edge of the bed. “He might fall and get hurt.”
I pulled the baby up by his waist and looked up at my sister, who was smiling. Dad’s anxiety was legendary, and we had almost started expecting it in certain situations. There were these tell-tale signs we siblings had grown up with. It made us exchange a chuckle or two when he would behave exactly as predicted.
My father was a gentle soul, a good person who was by nature a nurturing and caring parent. He deeply cared for us and always provided for everything we needed throughout our childhood and adolescence. This was no mean feat because his income was meager. Yet we lived a better lifestyle than many with better means.
It all spoke a lot about his immaculate planning and caring. We studied in the best of institutions, traveled during school holidays every year, almost all over India. We also had the most contemporary clothes and living standards.
He was so fastidious about our safety, at times it went to a humorous extreme. Because of this, none of us siblings ever learned swimming in our childhood. He used to worry whenever we were out for long, without a valid reason. Thankfully there were no mobiles in those days. Else, I am sure he would have made a good use of it trying to find out if we were in trouble of some sort.
As we grew out of teens, we would often ask him not to worry. In fact, much to my mom’s amusement, my younger brother once called him “Dad, the worrier.” Even when grown up, he still came to see us off or receive us, with the fear of us losing our way.
After we siblings got married, he continued to worry. He worried even more after the grandchildren were born. He was always concerned that the toddlers would get hurt by the sharp edges that only he seemed to notice. If he had his way, he would have put helmets on the kids’ heads all day long as they crawled around.
Set in a classic mold, he went about his duties as a responsible parent, and subsequently a grandparent. He gave all he had to inculcate exemplary qualities of his giving nature by his personal example. I know I am not half as much a responsible husband and a father as he was.
As he grew older, we would insist that he should not come too far away to bus stands or railway stations to see us off or receive us during our visits home.
He would never listen. and continued doing so with my younger siblings, but I somehow got my way, and he would come and drop me only to the nearest taxi stand.
I still recall my last visit, when we had a light argument about him coming to see me off. He finally relented and came only till the local bus stand near our house. As we stood talking, waiting for a bus, I felt the need to reach out and give him a hug. But I couldn’t muster the courage, as we had always held him in such awe. When the bus arrived, I left him after touching his feet, and took a window seat. He was looking up as if he wanted to say something. True to his nature, he waved and said, “Take care during the journey and look after yourself.”
I had been in similar situations during the past few years too. But somehow this time, I didn’t want to leave him. As the bus started moving, I waved at him, and holding myself back, closed my eyes.
“God, keep my father safe from the sharp edges of the world.”
Soon thereafter, he left us—in the prime of health, exactly the way he had lived—without a fuss and without being a burden on anyone, after finishing all his responsibilities of this life.
On this Father’s Day, I pay a tribute to my father, the most selfless and caring person I have ever known. He was my role model and my guiding light. I miss him every day.