I didn't wish my Baba a Happy Father's Day, because I didn't feel the need to. I often tell him through phone calls, texts, and in person, how important he is to me. I avoided the pageantry on this day, just as I avoided it on Mother's Day. I had a normal conversation a couple of times today -- just as routine and irritating as it is the rest of the year. I often try to diagnose the reason for the sudden irritation, and the only answer that stares at me is the fact that I've grown up too much and too soon, while my parents have remained stuck in a little town in a past decade. We barely see eye to eye on any thing; they keep interrupting me when I'm working; we speak different languages; they watch revolting populist television; they fail to see through people and trust every one blindingly, despite my warning them; Baba religiously sends thought-provoking texts in the wee hours of every morning (who does that?); reads quotations by famous writers and then texts them at night; we argue relentlessly on our differing political ideologies; he turns in very early every night and insists that every one should too; is extremely nagging at the dinner table about eating more fish and chicken and veggies; he fears ghosts and has a phobia of enclosed spaces, and so on and so forth. This summer I was finally forced to accept that I have moved on -- too far for my parents to keep up with me.
And then, as I was languishing on this still and muggy evening, I came across a few random posts online. I realised that if I was ever asked to choose, I'd select Atticus Finch as my favourite fictional father. Another post reminded me of the final snapshot from Mary Poppins and the song Let's Fly a Kite. Favourite literature had made me soppy, and with barely an hour until midnight, I sent a mail to my old man, attaching a link to a song with specific instructions on how to open the link and listen to it. I know that he won't check his mails any more tonight -- it being way past his bedtime hour -- but I couldn't help but drop in the words 'Happy Father's Day' in the subject bar. Since then, I've been listening to the song, and wondering that it always wasn't this bad.
The song is:
It'd be a pity if you didn't understand Bengali, because the middle-class sentiments expressed in this song, from the bun (hair and not food) to the kohl, to the father calling his little girl, is untranslatable into English.
As I listen to this song on a loop tonight, and read and hear the myriad emotions this song brings to the minds of friends and strangers, I realise with unbridled happiness that most of us have had a similar kind of a sentimental, and innocent childhood. The deep voice of Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, whose birthday is today, stands for the quintessential nostalgia of Bengalis for their childhood and for their last century morals, which have been quite lost now.
There are many things I miss too. But things change, time goes on, innit? Happy Father's Day!
And Happy Birthday, Hemanta Babu.