Happy Father’s Day to every dad, grand dad and anyone who serves that role!
Being a father myself, I feel kind of squeamish writing a Father’s Day message. It is like writing a birthday greetings for myself! But, after some reflection I said to myself “Why not?” The message need not be just for me, but it could be for any dad and for any son. In fact, as a dad and as a son, I can relate to other’s in similar role. It is like having “on the job experience”!
Today I reflect on my father. If he were alive today, he would be ninety six years old, give or take a couple of years! Yes, several decades ago, the birthdate was not recorded to the same level of preciseness as we have today. I have had my share of challenges with my father. I am sure he would attest to similar challenges he had to face with me! He was not perfect. But as years go by, I see in me more of my father, than I had figured possible in earlier years! This recognition also permits me to live in comfort with the thought that we cannot expect anyone to be “perfect”!
My father was among the millions of well identifiable success as a result of India’s freedom from the British rule. My father found his opportunity for better life as a clerk in the services of Government of India. He slowly rose through the ranks to become an Accounts Officer before his retirement. All Central (Federal) Government jobs in India require the workers to travel across the country. My father decided that such constant shifting- transfers – of living quarters should not affect my education. Hence he decided that I will live with my maternal grandparents at one location in the village and pursue my early education till I finished my high school studies . This was also his way of helping my economically not so well off grandparents, since the few rupees sent for my care can also be used as a shared resources for all!
In turn there was instilled in me an expectation that I will behave well and pursue my studies as best as I can. My parents not being around turned into a self-imposed expectation for a better behavior on my own accord! The measure of my accomplishments were simple: When my father visited home every two years – from his far off locations in India, where he was assigned for work – I wanted to be sure that my father did not hear anything but good words about my behavior in the community or my performance at my school!
Somehow neither my father’s economic plan nor my self-imposed performance goals were ever made explicit or discussed. It was understood through occasional comments, observations and suggestions. That is the way it was! But, as years go by, I find that such implicit but agreed upon expectations, seem more natural than odd in many aspects of life and relationships.
Thirukkural is a collection of couplets of 1330 verses. It is written by a poet/saint named ThiruValluvar over 1800 years ago. Now, after many years that have gone by in my life and with much education and reflection on life, the following two verses from Thirukkural constantly ring true as I reflect on my father! I hope he would also observe me through the lens of another verse also described below:
The best a father can do for his son is to ensure that the son has the best of education, and preparation in the finer aspects of life, that the son is seen as a leader in an assembly of honorable people.
The best a son can do for his father is to live a life of honor and scholarship that the assembly of honorable people would say, “How fortunate is this father to have such a noble son!”
Whether it is discussed explicitly or not, one can be certain both the above verses would apply between any son and father, even today and anywhere in the world!
Happy Father’s day!