Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day, 2013

Like many other people, I do not believe in commemorating a single day to celebrate love -- romantic or filial. I'd infinitely prefer to keep on loving the entire year round, than make some one feel special one day and then drive away and forget about him/her for the rest of the year. Today is International Father's Day, and of course the internet has gone berserk with every one suddenly remembering their fathers, and posting how much they love them. Although more than once today, I've had Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' thrust into my face, I must admit, some personal pictures and words posted by friends and acquaintances online are beautiful. However there are some which I find quite funny and a little bit rubbish. A girl posts about all the shopping she's doing in a mall, when she remembers that it's Father's Day (presumably by the sudden influx of photos in her own timeline), and quickly browsing through the media folder in her cell phone, retrieves a photograph with her father, posts it with the mandatory "luv u" words, imperfect spelling and punctuation in tow, and goes back to shopping.

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. 


  1. Raka, I have a certain connection with this song. Nothing to do with my dad, but some years back during my masters in Delhi, I was sitting in my hostel room one evening when my friends decided to have a party in my room with some leftover and borrowed vodkas. Some time later when my guests were dwindling the laptop started playing aye khuku aye, one of my closest mates perched on the sessel started shedding silent tears. That was probably the first and the last time I saw her crying so much.
    So the song actually reminds me of her and how much I miss my friends.
    And I will share a story of my connection with my dad. Many years ago, while I was living as a paying guest during my bachelors my dad used to work for a company that delayed my dad his salary so there used to be some delays I n receiving my monthly allowance that used to pay my rent and other expenses. On one such occasion I sent him a message saying that I needed the money soon and I had not had lunch and walked back from college in stead of taking the auto. He sent me money almost immediately. A year or so later he told me that after hearing that I had skipped lunch he also had not had lunch that day.

    1. I'm so glad you shared some thing so beautiful and intimate with me, Raka di. Parents are like that . . . When I was living as a Paying Guest during the first month of my college, or even when I was in Berlin, my parents would skip my favourite dishes, because they knew that I was going without them too. :)

      And about your missing your friends, what is distance, when you still have the intimacy and the friendship to cherish? :)

  2. Oh god, the comment is as long as a blog post. :p

  3. Lost him at a tender age. But I don't regret it, because every day that he was alive, I told him how much I loved him. He knew that he was my everything. My best memories are mostly with him. Remember the last conversation with him. It was a short and sweet one, though through phone. He was in Thimphu, and me in Kolkata.

    1. I'm sorry for your loss, Simantini. But I'm glad that you have no regrets. You did let him know how special he was to you. I'm sure you're making him happy still, where ever he is. :)