Sunday, 18 June 2017

Father's Day Emotions

Where are you, dad? I am told that you left us in 1972 – a good 45 years ago. Of course, you didn’t leave us on your will – the grim reaper decided that you had had enough of your earthly life and took you away. I am not sure if anyone told you that mom left us barely seven months after you. Without Facebook, Twitter and WeChat – it was impossible to send you any message. I was too young. Sorry!

Without you, mom was unable to bear her earthly sojourn any longer. As she bade goodbye, she gifted the family a tiny cute thing – my youngest sister. Modern science defines her death to placenta retention – but village folks back then called it ‘karma’. To this day I am confused – how could a six-year-old lose both his parents within the span of half a year to ‘karma’?

Four decades is a long time and much has happened since you left us, dad. Your only full brother took care of us after you and mom left Neoly. It would be an understatement to say that we had a terrible time at our new home. However, we do not blame that on ‘kaka’. He did his best. It was the same old ‘karma’ who came around haunting us!

What are you doing now, dad? Much has happened since Yama Raj shut down your system that fateful day and connected you to the ether world. I am sure you still remember that you had eight children, including me. Whenever my wife and I are in jovial mood, we wonder what, where and how you and mom would be if ‘karma’ had kept you behind with us. Would we be good to you? Would we be unkind? Would you be a social asset? Or a family obligation? What would you and your life be like?

Bau with his two daughters, wife and me
Would you have been like your eldest child – Thuli Didi? Although she went through hell during her early life, she is doing reasonably well now. She has one of the biggest areca nut orchards in Beldara and thanks to a caring daughter and a mellowed husband, she is doing pretty good. I believe that together with Ganga Ram Nepal, you introduced areca nut to Neoly. Well that may not exactly be considered innovative, but was definitely a very good initiative of the day! To keep the flame of your noble spirits alive, your ‘kanchhi buhari’ delights in chewing ‘doma’, today!

Would you have ben like your eldest son? Given that you were already in your late forties and hadn’t received modern education, probably you would not have become a medical doctor. But your elder son did become one! If you were around, I am sure you would be as popular as Daju – a jovial and friendly fellow, committed to his professional duties. I am not sure if you would be using Facebook and other social media with Daju’s sense of purpose and interest. I can imagine you leading developmental activities at good old Neoly Bhutan – uploading pictures on Facebook as does the young present-day Gup, now!

Perhaps you would be like your second daughter – Maili Didi – familial and guarding. Maili Didi is ultra-confident of herself and guards a large family of children and grandchildren at Kentucky in the USA. I am not sure if you would have followed her and settled in America. But then would you have survived the travails of Jhapa? Perhaps not!

Like you, your third daughter (Saili Didi) has two sons; unlike you she has no daughters! However, both her sons are married and she has two caring and loving daughters like daughters-in-law. Should you be around, you might have followed her to Kentucky in the US – mimicking and mocking Trump’s policies and postures. On your behalf, I send my gratitude to Uncle Sam for providing shelter and care to my two sisters and to many others.

I am told you were a lot like your fourth daughter – Kamala – full of spirit and determination to plough through life. Like your eldest daughter, she did come through difficult times as she fought to bring up her three lovely sons. But be assured dad – today Kamali is content with life. I visit her once in a while; I hope that serves as a proxy of the love and care you would have showered on her and others; people tell me that I resemble you the most!

Perhaps you would be like Hema, your penultimate (and the youngest serving) daughter. Like I have said above, you had already pioneered the cultivation of areca nut in Neoly. I am sure you would have researched and introduced many more valuable crops. Like your second daughter, Hema is sure and confident of herself. Although belatedly, she was sent to school and today serves as an Agriculture Researcher.  

Wherever you are, however you are and whatever you might have been – I am proud of you dad. Today’s world, dad, is very different from the one you left.  It is cutthroat competitive, unfair and highly prejudicial. I live in a society where meritocracy is defined on paper and not practiced in boardrooms. I live in times when the primary maxim is ‘show me your face and I will tell you the rules’. These are challenging times, dad!

Your gene must be bright and upright, dad. Look at your children – all of them are doing proud to the organizations and societies they belong to. All of them are leaders in their own rights. Even Kaili the least schooled, is a respected woman in Daifam.  But then dad, modern science is saying that children take their intelligence after their mother. They are still researching, though! I would like to beg that mine is a good combination of your's and mom's!

Whatever you might have been and wherever you are now, you were and still are – my father. Happy Father’s Day, dad!

Postscript: On the occasion of this important day, I also extend my love and greetings to two other fathers in my life.

The first is ‘Buba’ – my father’s younger brother who brought me up after dad left. It is from ‘Buba’ that I learnt two important values in life - integrity and grit. To him, integrity meant ‘doing the right thing even when no one is watching’. I still remember Buba asking one of us (I don’t remember who it was) to return a guava fruit to the neighbour, that one of us had found fallen from the tree and had brought home to share! Buba knew a lot. As a management consultant, I counsel the same values to my corporate clients. Similarly, it is from Buba that I learnt to stay focused in the face of abject adversities.  

The other is my father-in-law. ‘Bau’ (as her daughters call him) is the only surviving member of the trinity of people I seek to celebrate today. The political whirlwind that took two of my sisters to the US drifted Bau Down Under. Thanks to the excellent medical and social care provided by the Aussie government, he is doing reasonably well in spite of compromises on both his kidneys.  In our culture, people seek to showcase and shower their love for their children through their sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. What can you say of a father-in-law who (in spite of his failing health) is ready to welcome his son-in-law home complete with a tailor made traditional dress? I call him Bau!

This morning, as my wife and I heard that it was Father’s Day, we combined our common love and emotions to wish Bau another decade of healthy life. I will get your daughter to visit you, Bau. We hope you will relent!