It is said that a girl's first true love is her father. ‘Aashiqui’ actress Anu Aggarwal agrees with it and says he is the first man any girl encounters. Speaking on the occasion of Father's Day, which is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June every year, she revealed that her father, Rajesh Prakash, taught her some very important life lessons at an early age. She even called him her first guru.
"My father, who started his life with the Air Force, was my first Guru. He smiled, laughed a lot, and was humorous about everything. One evening he called me and my elder brother to his room in a playful way and taught us the Gayatri mantra. I must have been three years old. I have practiced it since. The first thing I learned from my father was how to treat spirituality in a fun way. And how not to treat life in a fun way," remembers Aggarwal.
"I feel lucky to have learned self-love at that young age. Be yourself, he would say, and he trained me to not give excuses or lie about anything. He was a strong man, my pillar, and he taught me that a girl can do anything a boy can and even more. He loved me unconditionally and raised my self-confidence. It was due to his upbringing that I started working on women's anticipation and women empowerment. He raised me as an empowered girl, with the complexes some normal girls in my class had," she adds.
Aggarwal confesses that because of his profession he seemed a little strict when she was young. On the same, she adds, "…but now I realize it was only about raising us as honest and conscious citizens who loved their country because he was prepared to die for India. We were not given big pocket money and he raised me to fend for myself. The same rules were applied for my brother which was odd as other girls were pampered and treated like ‘girls’."
She further remembers an incident and shares how it changed her life forever. "I must have been four or five years old when I asked him for chocolate or something. He gave me a lecture on how I should think of others who have less than I do. He said 'Do something for others', but I hardly understood it as a child. It seeped into me later and I wanted to work for the people who had less. So I enrolled to study Social Work and rejected Miss India/Miss Universe when offered. And today I have Anu Aggarwal Foundation for bringing joy to all," she adds.
Aggarwal's father died because of cancer but he fought it like a hero which made her admire him more. Calling it as the best lesson from him, she says, "He treated it like a hero would and maintained 'I have lived my life the way I wanted to. I am happy to go.' By then he had lost half his weight in the fourth stage of cancer, but he still wore the same jeans he did when he was a young boy. The doctor told us his days were numbered."
"I had just returned from the yoga-monkhood and training as an alternative yoga therapist. I used that to make a calming program for him which eased him in the last days and he left peacefully. I was invited to Germany next year to a Treating Cancer with Natural Means conference to present my Yoga for Palliative Care to oncologists from all over the world. It is a part of my Anu Aggarwal Foundation for Cancer now," concludes Aggarwal.