It is Father’s Day once again. While many are busy, finding gifts for their fathers, I ignore the tears rolling down my cheeks and console myself by thinking that you are in a better place, now. It is hard to accept the fact that I could not wish you today. While there are thousands of things I want to tell you, I am writing a few lines for you today, penning down my thoughts, which I so dearly wanted to convey to you for long:
Loving my mother
As a young boy, I used to feel uneasy and at times ashamed of how you would openly display your love and affection for my mother. Later, I realised your unwavering love for her was more than about her and that you had been religiously following the saying, “if you love your children, love their mother”. How I now wish to see you hug my mother and kiss her again! I can promise you, I will not be ashamed but rather be ecstatic. My mother was your first true love and your last. Your unconditional love towards her taught me that a good husband is the hallmark of a good father.
It is only natural for parents in general and fathers, in particular, to make sacrifices for their children. But, as I said on your funeral, “All fathers love their children but none like you.” How can I forget the time you walked miles to save the taxi fare just so you could buy me my favourite magazine? There will be countless sacrifices you must have made for us, many of which would have been when we were too young to remember; the sleepless nights and tiresome days you must have endured to bring us up are only a few I can recollect now and that too only after I became a father myself. You never bought a decent dress for yourself while you’d even resort to borrowing, if required, to buy us one. You cannot imagine how I so wish to buy you the best clothes now, Dad. The belief that you are now in a place where you will be wearing the most beautiful and attractive clothing, is the only reason I can afford to smile, though in tears. You perfectly exemplified how a father is willing to sacrifice anything in the world for the love of his children.
Managing work-life balance
Your mantra of “Work is worship” was difficult to comprehend at times because for many days at a stretch you’d leave us and travel far and wide. I remember raising my voice on a few occasions complaining why you could not be with family like everyone else even on Christmas. I was too naïve to acknowledge and appreciate the precious times you did spend with us. Now that I have a job of my own, I can clearly understand how work sometimes compels us to sacrifice family time. The irony is that one needs to be sincere at work to make ends meet and also spare adequate time for the family to avoid relationship gaps. I know, you must have wished with all your heart to be with us all the time. Sometimes when I feel stressed and frustrated about my job, I remember you and exhort myself to be dedicated in my work. You were a master in managing work-life balance and remarkably shouldered the challenging responsibilities of a father and being the sole breadwinner of the family.
Your words of advice to me when I was a child—“Unless you understand what is verb and adverb, prepare to fast. You will not be provided even a cup of water,” still lingers in my ear. Education was your topmost priority apart from our health. That commitment and belief, in aptly regarding education as the prime factor that would shape our future is the only reason why I am able to write this story today in an esteemed media house like Outlook India. And whatever I am today, including being able to put food on the table for my family, is largely due to the importance you gave to my education. As a father of two now, I often struggle to even teach them the alphabets but yet I will make sure not to shy away from teaching my children the importance of education and the valuable life lessons you taught me. You showed me how a good father needs to be a good teacher, relentlessly aspiring for the all-round development of his children. You were, and you still are my best teacher.
The story of Job, of a man who despite his intolerable sufferings steadfastly held on to God, was your favourite story. On many occasions, I witnessed your calm and composed nature even in the face of adverse trials, a trait which could only be possessed by those having their faith and hope firmly rooted in God. When you were in your death bed, I had earnestly prayed to God to heal you. And when that didn’t happen, my faith was crushed and shattered. Then I realised how you would have wanted me to know you were eternally healed and wished that I reminded myself of the story of Job. Despite my shortcomings, I now truly believe in the power of the divine spirit and truly accept that God does consider what is best for us and this understanding has played a key role in helping me accept and cope with the challenges life has thrown. You were my spiritual guru.
The above messages are not exhaustive but they are only a select few, of the many feelings I did not have the opportunity to express when you were here on earth. You must have known by now my inability to live-up to the high standards you set as a father, I am not half as good as you. On this Father’s Day though, I can promise you that the privilege of being blessed with a father like you will not go in vain, may God help me! Thank you for being my father, Hepa! #HappyFathersDay
Your loving son,
T S Haokip
(The writer is an author and freelance writer.)
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