We did it together….

Sometimes life pauses a while to smile at you before rushing headlong into a flurry of festivals, lunches, dinners, conference calls, more festivals, more food, colors, weddings and crowded market streets.

I have never talked much about my father much out here… but today I will.

You see, my father does not like exercising… Actually detests is more like it. And his best rebuttal against a healthy life is to cook a decadent chicken curry preceded by mugs of calorie laden beer. And for the record I protest as best as I can, but the beer does make my arguments go a bit slow, and the chicken usually makes me sleep a bit longer the next day and miss my all-planned-for morning jog. But at least, I talk about exercise, and dream about it and plan for it… which is more than what my father has done for the last decade.

 

I wanted him to undergo a basic six day meditation course.. something that I had done a long time back in college out of compulsion. The kind where they tell you that you don’t know how to do stuff and need to start living your life all over again… My father good naturedly refused and told my wife that her husband is an idiot and she good naturedly agreed. I upped the rhetoric a bit and he was unmoved, and then I really closed the argument that even I will go with him to give him company if he wanted. And he said ‘ok’….

 

So there I was, shaved and bathed at 6 AM in the morning, suitably attired in track pants and white T shirt ,with a rather grumpy dad at my side standing at the meditation venue. It did not help that the venue was the banquet hall of a restaurant that we otherwise associated with some rather nice food and drinks and good times.I promptly chose a position in the hall that was right behind my dad, in no mood to endure the disapproving, grudging sidelong glances I anticipated being subjected to for the entire six days of the course.

 We had an interesting group of people at hand who were there for the course. Middle aged and not so aged, retired and not so retired…. Men and women.Day one started off with some light exercises – on the spot jogging & flapping your hands like a bird.I couldn’t see him, but could feel my father seething at the stupidity of it all..Then came more exercises … and yeah a few rules. No caffeine, no meat, no alcohol for the next one week!  

I was sure my dad would be the one who would grumble, which he did. Be the one who would complain of a sore body and a head ache, which he did. And would be the one behind my back for opting out of the course….which he did not. 

The second day of the course found me, yet again, shaved and bathed at 6 AM at the venue with my father at my side. I wanted to run away…. and to my supreme frustration found my dad smiling. Shaking hands with the rest of the chummy old men in the session, he seemed completely at home. Standing behind him in the session the day I observed him trying his best to ensure that he was the not the slow coach in the gang when we jogged. I saw him wriggle his sixty year old body and make sure that his spine was erect when he assumed the positions for the various activities… and at the end of the session, he walked up to the instructor and asked him questions

The rest of the day found me thinking hard about the last time that my father & I did something together. Just the two of us, no one else. No wives, or siblings or dogs in the picture (with no offence to the dogs). My memories took me back to summer vacations where the both of us had played through summer afternoons on home made Ludo boards, or snakes and ladders or chess… with the rest of the family blissfully asleep. Or when we cooked together during those hard hard years after my mother passed away….

 But all this happened more than a decade back…. For all the last ten years, we had managed to live through our days without doing a single new thing together. It was a realization that struck me dumb for a while…

I went for the remaining four days of the course with my father… with the feeling of being part of something very special. The final day was a pot luck brunch – We brought a father-son combo dish for the group and shared a collective pride when we saw our dishes being polished up by the rest of the group…

The meditation course is great, I have done it before and I enjoyed it again. But what made it special for me this time was that I shared it with my father. My heart went out to him as I saw him trying to do the stretches and the pulls… and I nearly teared up when I saw him dressed and ready each morning waiting for me to get the car.   

In all the years of doing things for my father, I had forgotten the joy doing things with him. In all the years of telling him that he did not understand the need to start exercising, I had forgotten that playing games is no fun when you do it alone.

 The way I see it, life might go back to the way it was…. But I am glad that my father & I spent those six days in a room full of people and dusty carpets, grumbling together about the strain of all the breathing exercises…. We might have been cribbing, but at least we were doing it together.

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20 thoughts on “We did it together….

  1. I met uncle (2003)… and was charmed in an instant!
    I am so glad, that finally i read something about him in your writings.I do admire him a lot, especially from what you’ve told me about him. However, this one is more special, because you spoke about the bond you both share. Touching!

    P.S. i realised you don’t write much on the same lines 🙂 This should be the first of many more to come.

  2. I think I can very well understand the emotions of those moments. It’s the happiness in real sense and I got my own share of that whenever I took my mom with me to explore different parts of India. Your observation is in second last paragraph says a lot, we think we care by thinking about them and asking them to do right things in fact passing some time with them does the real trick. May god bless you with more such moments to cherish.

  3. He he. Nice experience. It’s worth doing anything together with one’s loved ones, even if its something one dosen’t really like doing. 🙂

  4. Coretta & Shamsher, thanks for your comments 🙂

    And Achintya,s whatever made you think that I dont really like doing it 😛

  5. Ashish, you are such a talented writer! This was beautiful and you conveyed the experience here as well as if you were talking directly to me.

  6. @ Achintya: No offense taken. You may be glad to know that I have been dragging people to AOL sessions at Pune 🙂

    @ Samved: Coming from the person who writes the most well read blog I know of, this is indeed a compliment

    Bhattji : This is your first comment on any of my posts in the last 5 years ! I hope you keep returning to my site 🙂

    @ Jenny: A very very pleasant surprise to see your note. Am glad you liked it I and I hope to keep seeing you around !

    @ Coretta: Wait till I comment again on your blog 😛

  7. Well said buddy…. It’s all about involvement, attention and let someone know that he/she is special for you. cheers… 🙂

  8. I have been directed to this blog by Shailendra Fuloria….. and I must say the visit was more than worth it….

    an excellent post…… with a simplicity which is its beauty…….. a sequence which happens to us everyday…… but it could be described in such a poetic way…. I never knew……

    I have stored this link as my favorites in the browser….. will wait for more…… 🙂

  9. @Purwar Sir, thanks a lot ! Its been ages since I heard from you

    @Haresh. Thanks a lot and I completely agree

    Rahul, thanks for the kind words indeed 🙂

  10. Unlike its several counterparts, a Father-Son relationship is one of the most underrated and least thought about ones in the society. The father’s role in the son’s life is considered by most to be limited around imparting sound education and providing him financial security.

    By chosing to address this topic, Sir you have given this relationship its worthy due. A very simple article, yet very thoughtful. I don’t believe that to produce beautiful things we need to use a complex medium. A beautiful aricle is always simple. It’s beauty lies in the complexity that was required to achieve this simplicity. This is how I feel you have written. Very different, but still I could connect to it instantly. In fact, each ‘son’ would. Its not admiration but ‘thanks’ that I have for you to offer for rolling out this gem and making us think.

    As of me, I strongly believe that ‘father’ is the first hero of the ‘son’. At least, that’s how it was in my case.

    During childhood, whenever I was with my dad, I felt very proud. I remember, how precious I felt everytime he performed his ‘magic tricks’ in front of my friends. The amazed look on their faces made me fantasize myself to be a prized procession. It was like “Check out guys-he is my dad. I am his son.” .
    In my early years, we both played cricket together at the garden. We had a rule to keep batting until one got out. I always remained at the receiving end and found myself bowling to him most of the times. His long batting sessions made him the numero uno in my rankings. I looked with awe whenever he hit those big shots. I simply loved the power he generated behind his strokes. He was my ‘superhero’-none of my friends could strike the ball as hard as my dad. I remember I once betted with my friend that my dad batted better than Azharuddin!!
    Whenever I happened to accompany dad to his office, I felt so important. Over there, I was the king. I could sit on the plush big chair of his’ and give orders to the attendents. There were always two three of dad’s colleagues to take care of my ‘foody’ desires. Besides, I also got to play with the typewriter whenever dad left the cabin.Coming to dad’s office was my best childhood picnic.
    My dad often took me for long walks after dinner. A curious child that I was, I kept him occupied with one question after the other;”Are ghosts real?”,”Has anyone seen God?”,”Does anyone live at moon?,”where is the ‘swarga’ located?” etc etc. And as calm as he was,he kept listening to all my queries patiently, thinking vigrously in between, probably formulating the background to help me understand the abstractions of this world. Somewhere over there, I was taking my first lessons on physics.

    And then suddenly, I grew up. I had my own friends now to play cricket with. I was too old to be accompanying him to his office.There were no longer those longs walks after dinner. Lost in between my school and my friends,I had very little time left for my dad. Our talks decreased, our fights increased. His ‘advices’ now appreared ‘invasion of my own space’. His orders seemed dictatorial.Our bond was not like the past anymore. Suddenly, he did not seem as a hero anymore….

    But as years have passed and I have come of age, and as I have encountered circumstances similar to what he had faced, I find myself taking the same decisions. I find that there are several other factors to consider that I did not see before. I find that my present decisions are the best I can take, keeping in mind all the constraints. I realize how correct my dad was… Even today it happens sometimes that I make a decision and remember ‘oh…this is why he had done this at that time..’ This slow realization of things has been like a second homecoming for me. Today, my day is an even bigger hero to me than at any other time before.

    Normally, we associate the words like ‘callous’and ‘less emotional’ with dads. However, having seen, felt and understood my dad from so close, I know today that he ‘cares’. He has his own feelings, he has his own dreams.True, his work keeps him away most of the time; true he does not hug me as often as my mom;true he is not present when I cut my cake; but I know he ‘cares’. All this while he is toiling hard to ensure that none of my dreams go unfulfilled. I know he desperately desires that I don’t encounter the struggles he faced. And above all, all this while, I know that he misses me much much more than I do….

  11. @ Kanna…. thanks a lot 🙂

    @ Anurag: Thanks for your thoughts. It takes patience to write a comment like yours. Thanks !

    Bhatt ji: Yes I see the difference 🙂

  12. Hey Ashish,
    I liked the last sentence….”We might have been cribbing, but at least we were doing it together”….. reminds me of Symbi….
    And it felt good to read this…. it felt almost like talking to you…. kambal-chor….
    Take care and keep writing,
    Anand

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