A daughter writes about what she has learnt from her father
For someone who is quite good with numbers, remembering dates is a task. Nevertheless, there are two dates that will never lapse from my memory — father’s day and my father’s birthday.
My father is an ordinary man; he fulfills the popular stereotype that Tambrahm men work in banks, wear their caste mark quite proudly on their foreheads and love their thayir saadam. Thanks to him, I grew up on a steady diet of Indian cricket, politics, the right way to polish off a wedding spread, Art Buchwald-Sidney Sheldon-James Hadley Chase books and Abba and Boney M songs.
Growing up, we’ve all had relatives who have told us at one point that we resemble either one of our parents. In my case all evidences pointed to my mother, barring a few exceptions. The funny part is the more I denied having anything in common with my father, the clearer it became: that I was my father. (In pop culture, Rachel Green of Friends realises she is her father when she yells at Joey while teaching him how to sail.) Neither of us are patient, a trait we both famously lack; we get angry at the drop of a hat, we love our indulgence for books and the strange places we store them in and are extremely fond of random trivia.
I remember when he once dropped me in school, fresh from his morning prayers and his srichurnam displayed quite prominently. I also remember my utter embarrassment when my fellow classmates and peers pointed to the mark and silently (and some not-so-silently) made fun of it, “Go away, I can walk to class by myself,” I shooed him. But I also remember the boy I had a crush on walking towards me exclaiming, “You’re also an Iyengar? Nice!” I remember I silently looked back at the receding figure of my father riding his trusty, old Kawasaki and smiled.
John Steinbeck wrote a letter to his son in 1958 on falling in love. Steinbeck’s words of wisdom are many; they ask his son Thom to not worry about losing his love as nothing good gets away. Now, I know my father isn’t Steinbeck and when it comes to the dicey subject of love, he can be a man of few words, but his honest outlook threw me aback, “Make sure, above all else, he is a good friend, because that matters the most in the long run.”
The reason I remember father’s day and my father’s birthday is because of two reasons: one is always round the corner from my birthday and the other is Sri Lanka’s Independence Day.