Cheat Sheet Fact of Life: Father’s teach us about the ups and downs of life and how to face them
Every morning, on my way to work, I listen to Michelle and Nathan on the radio. A couple of weeks ago, Michelle asked a question, “Do you say, ‘Love you Dad’ to your father or are you embarrassed to say that? Whenever I am on a call with my Dad, just before hanging up, I say, ‘Love you Dad’, as though I am in a hurry or something. I don’t know why, but it never comes out in the right tone. Do you guys have a similar experience?” When I heard Michelle, I thought, ‘I never told my Dad, I love you.’ Due to my Sound Indian Hindu roots, that would feel weird for me and my Dad.
My first lesson from my Father was, ‘Life is a learning process’. It didn’t make any sense when I was a ten year old girl. Now that I am much older, I understand the value of his statement. As I grew up, I thought this learning process or whatever it is will end as soon as I complete my studies, but it continued. Every day, at my workplace, I have to learn new things and come up with innovative solutions. I have another good fifty to sixty years ahead of me. I have to be a humble student of whatever life intends to teach me.
When I complained about studying, my father used to say, ‘Imagine a daily laborer. He is working in the hot, scorching sun, which has no mercy at all. He extends his arms up and brings down the hammer, to break the stones. He does that all day. Compared to him, look at the comfort you have. You are sitting under the fan, on a table and chair. The only thing you have to do is to study. You are doing a much simpler task and still you complain’. Well, that got me studying.
I received innumerable lectures from him and their intensity increased during my PhD. He was a Professor himself, so he always reminded me, ‘PhD is not taken. It is given’. He told me all the simple tricks to remain focused on my studies and dissuaded me from getting into Department’s politics. We did fight on several issues as well. Owing to the bad phone connection, sometimes the calls used to drop. I would call him after 5 or 10 minutes, because I was seething with anger and wanted sometime to cool off. My father kept on lecturing into the open-ended receiver, for those ten minutes, and then he would receive a call on his phone.
Now, that I completed my education, these lectures have become scarce. When I look back and recollect all those countless lectures, I realize that he has guided me, ached for me when I was going in the wrong path and strove to put me back on track. He had to be harsh with me and deal with my anger and sullenness. Most of the times, I am thankful for those lectures. In all those years, he has taught me how to face the ups and downs in life, how the society will perceive me, based on all the prejudices they have and how to fight against them or get along with them.
To my father, ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and ‘Yes, I do love him’.