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Daddy Daddy coolest

The earliest memory I have of my father is a tall man, so caring and compassionate. I remember being about five or six years old and not doing so well in school. My mother was giving me an earful and I anxiously awaited my dad's arrival from the bank expecting a further dosage of chastisement. My father sauntered in and charges were levelled against me and to my pleasant surprise, he sat down, put me on his lap and gave me a big hug and kiss and told me to do better next time.

I was so mischievous that the sobriquet “Neville the Devil” was given to me by my dad's colleagues. I would lock myself in the toilet until my poor father would come running from his office and, upon hearing his voice, I would eventually come out. I caused a lot of heartache for him as thrice I got lost and he and my uncles would trace me out. He saved my life twice — once by plucking me out of a pond as I jumped in and, the second time, when I choked on a piece of meat I was munching on in the streets of New York. Of course, all these were in my early school years and I have mellowed with age to eventually become a respectable member of society today!

True to the customs prevalent at that time, the marriage between my parents was arranged and my dad was nine years older than my mom. He was a true leader not only to our little family but also to all our relatives who looked up to him. An outstanding officer in State Bank of India, he was keen on me becoming a doctor. He was more anxious than me as I finished my 12th standard and applied for a number of medical colleges.

He was the proudest man on earth when I completed medicine. I wanted to be a physician and he wanted me to be a surgeon. He got his wish when I completed general surgery. Thereafter, I wanted to become an oncology surgeon and he wanted me to be a cardiac surgeon. He did not scold or force me to do anything I hated or did not wish to do. He had a soft and gentle nature which made me want to please him all the more. Hence, I took up cardiac surgery — a decision I do not regret today. My father followed my career closely till he passed away in 2000.

We don different roles in our lives playing the role of son, husband and father. My mother recently rated me as a good husband, a dutiful son and an outstanding father. I realised then the legacy left by my father to me — gentleness, compassion, integrity. A typical example of my father's love: I landed in Singapore as a 25 year old to write an examination. It was my first trip abroad alone and I was naturally apprehensive. I checked into the hotel and upon entering the room, the phone rang and I heard my father's familiar voice on the other end checking to make sure I had reached safely.

Till my father's death I had really no direction in my career but once he passed on I wanted to be something special to make his memory live on through me. Today, a heart foundation (Alfred Solomon Heart Foundation) bearing his name reaches out to poor children requiring heart surgery and a scholarship has been set up in his alma mater Loyola College for students excelling in mathematics.

And so I conclude my little treatise on my father — and the moral of all this for all those sons out there who still have their fathers with them: make every day with him count, listen to his advice, heed his admonition, weigh your words carefully and think twice before talking back and above all, respect him for all that he epitomises. This way, you will never have any regrets when God does take him away from you eventually. Moreover, the grief of the loss of someone dear and loved can always act as a trigger point for greater endeavours.

(The writer is head of the Department of Paediatric Cardiac Surgery, Apollo Children's Hospital, Kilpauk, Chennai. His email id is: nevillesolomon@gmail.com)


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:40:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/daddy-daddy-coolest/article2783586.ece

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