I owe a lot to my father. My love for books, my passion for swimming, my obsessive indulgence in the written word, my love for theatre, my resilience, my strength, my gradual acceptance that sometimes, in a family in particular and in the world, in general, a woman, in herself might just be enough are all lessons gathered under the looming influence of this man but sadly, all this realization came to me in retrospection, long after this man was lost to us.
His demise was untimely, unnecessary, uncalled for. An aberration in the otherwise normal scheme of things. I was about five at that time but even at that tender age I had the realization that my father was a different man under the influence of alcohol. He drank too much, he abused too much, he raved and he ranted and he went in for a self-destructive streak without any provocation.
Much of my mother’s waking hours were spent trying to organise some semblance of sanity in the house, sharing his work load, making lame excuses for his temper, shielding us from his drunken behaviour and trying to keep her wits around for the unforeseen emergencies which kept cropping up in the house under my father’s alcoholic excesses.
One fine day in a stupor of alcohol haze, we lost him to an accident and it was as if everything stood still. There was silence in a house filled with two children under age of seven. It was eerie, unnatural and unnerving. We grew up overnight. Mother embraced a strength far beyond her capacity and made sure, that hence onwards, a woman, in this household would never need validation from a man for her being, her sustenance, her existence. My father’s shadow influenced me to be a woman, complete and absolute.
It was difficult in my growing years to remember him partly because I lost him so young and more so, because my imagination went on an over-drive trying to fill in the hues, where there was vacuum, to the extent that reality and fiction blurred and today it is hard to know what I gleaned from the man or from my own sub-conscious. The stories I created, were part of an elaborate coping strategy to make sense of his absence in some manner, which would make sense to my own self and to the people whom I interacted with. So many fibs, so many lies all designed to create a man, imposing, credible and impressive, where there was none.
I read more and more from his stock of books, from the times he lived in, from the notes he scribbled on the first page of the books he procured from the various cities he visited, and slowly but surely, the love for written word became ingrained in my psyche as a means to fill in the void. My dad influenced me in many ways, made me who I am today and more so, albeit posthumously.