An Overdose of Saccharine
Till today, I can never tell what he thinks. He's one of those passive, non-expressive men - stoic, strong and silent. He's also the most intelligent man I know, as well as the most upright. He loves children. And animals. He thinks an experience is worth it only if you learn something from it. He has a weird sense of humour which no one gets, and uses long fancy words - correctly. I love him to pieces. He's my father.
Baba's never told me in words that he disapproves of anything I'm doing. He'll drop subtle hints. Are you sure you want to do that? Will that career option really give you the satisfaction you're looking for? Maybe you should meet some people from some other field and see if they can guide you. Do you really plan to go out of the house wearing that? But if I ask him upfront,"Do you think I'm making the right decision?", I wait till the end of time, and I won't get an answer. And when I go ahead and take decisions that he doesn't approve of, he'll still support me in them.
He never buys anything for himself, just because he feels like it. He can be very stubborn. I just watched him put tape on his old, frayed wallet, because he likes it better than the brand-new one lying in his cupboard. Both his laptop and his phone are about as useful as a floppy disk, but he won't replace them because he's "looking at options". And I mean that very literally - he's going to get the specs of ALL possible options, compare them, and will hopefully come to a decision sometime in the next decade.
I've only ever seen him break down twice - once, when Dadu passed away; the second time, when Thamma passed away. Ask him what he wants for his birthday, and he'll say he'll have to think about it. Gift him the complete DVD set of the LOTR movies, and he'll look at you puzzled, wondering why you spent money on something so unnecessary. But the first chance he gets, he'll pull them out and settle down to watch.
Till a couple of years back, he was an out and out workaholic. As kids we only ever saw him on Sundays, and the family holidays he would make a point of planning and taking us on. It was Mamma who was always there for us, Mamma I related all my day's happenings to, Mamma who I considered my best friend. Recently, that's changed. Three years ago, Baba quit his job with the company he'd been with for 28 years, and decided to do his own thing. Not only has this made him a lot more relaxed and chilled about his work, it also means I've got to spend a lot more time with him since then - especially since he pretty much appointed me as an unpaid secretary in the initial months (I'm an expert at doing travel bookings, don'tcha know?). And since I also stated working around the same time, and started needing/wanting to talk about work-related stuff, he and I have grown a lot closer than we ever were when I was growing up. Which I cannot be thankful enough for.
In terms of personality, I'm like the mother - volatile, hyper, quick-tempered, and not the most reasonable person around. The brother's like Baba - calm, logical, passive, but impossible on the few occasions they lose their cool. Despite this, or maybe because of it really, the brother is Mama's boy through and through, while I'm so much more a Daddy's girl. It's him I now go to when I need to whine about anything, when I need advice about something, or even if it's just to talk about the day's mundane details.
Mother's Day and Father's Day are a huge deal in our home - because I make them that way. The brother goes along with it (mainly because the alternative is listening to me nag), the mother just likes the gifts and the meal out - no cooking for one day. And the father, well, who can tell what he thinks really?
Last year, the brother was in town on his summer vacation. We made this huge plan of going out for lunch on Father's Day. As we entered the mall, we saw a huge banner advertising a Father's Day special fest - for two weeks later. I'd mixed up the dates, so two Sundays later, we again got up early, made him a nice breakfast, and took him out for dinner. He got TWO Father's Days. And yeah, I think he quite enjoyed the extra attention.
Baba and I are both nightbirds. When I was 17, preparing for my Class XII Boards, and applying to colleges in the US, I'd come down to drink a glass of water or get a snack to munch while studying (or pretending to) late at night. I'd peep in on the father, and invariably find him in front of his laptop, having dozed off while working. I'd shake him awake, and make him go to bed. I once asked him what he would do when I went away to college - who would come take off his glasses for him?
Eight years later, I'm still living at home (and will probably continue to, till the end of time). I still stay up late, and I still go to peep in on him most night, and find that he's dozed off while reading a book. I still take off his glasses, and switch off the light for him.
A lot of people are going to react to this post by asking why the big fuss about Father's Day; the same argument comes around on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day - why do we need one day in the year to express our love for loved ones, and it's all a bunch of commercialized propaganda anyway. Maybe so, but the fact remains that in getting caught up in the mundaneness of our everyday lives, we tend to forget to tell the people we love that we, well, love them. So three hours from now, I will get up (hopefully), and nag my mother into helping me make omelettes the way Baba likes them. And I will give him the book I ordered from Flipkart because he wanted it. And I will wait for the brother to come back from his silly internship, and then the four of us will go out for dinner. All this to celebrate Father's Day.
Because my Baba may not be someone you ever heard of, but he's best kind of father any girl could ever ask for. And I really do want to remind him that I love him to pieces.
NB: I also tried introducing the celebration of Daughter's Day into the family - unfortunately, this did not succeed. Much sadness comes.