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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Folks

Thank you. 

I look at the world and I see UN schools being bombed in Gaza. I see the (needless) media frenzy over someone as insignificant as Jane Goody. I see a corrupt monetary system. I see people generally not getting along. Where's the good? Where are the things that make you want to wake up the next day?

They exist. And I want to thank two of them. My parents.

When all those bad things overwhelm me (like after watching Zeitgeist, for example - a movie everyone should watch), I like to dream about my house in Bangalore and the warmth and unconditional love that radiate from it. I listen to my friends talk about how they're going to go visit their dad on the weekend and I feel thankful that mine loves my mum. I look at broken families and I smile when I remember my family on one of our signature holidays. You take them for granted till you leave them. My parents are the best people I know - and there's no hyperbole to be found here. Not a trace.

I look at some of my friends' parents with skepticism. The ones I used to think were cool because they let them do whatever they want and I'm grateful my parents were 'firm but fair'. This is one of those moments where the self-fulfilling prophecy of "you'll thank us when you're older" seems to have fulfilled itself. I look at some of my friends' parents who are on the other end of the scale. Treatment of teenage boys has never seen such polarity. Stalin could have learned a thing or two about totalitarian government from this lot. They were - if I said 'no disrespect here', I'd be lying - irrationally strict and in many ways, backward. They irked me because I could see the look of helplessness and anguish on their sons' faces and I couldn't do little about it. All I could do was come home and be happy that I was who I was thanks to my parents being who they were.

I'm 18 now. I've left the creche. I'm out in the real world where you have to be accountable for yourself and 'man up'. I am happy with who I am. I am happy with the product that the conveyor belt that was my childhood, has churned out. I know who I am and where I come from and where I want to go and I have no one but my parents to thank for this. Had they planned it all out this way? I don't know. Perhaps. Maybe I helped myself grow a little but I know they did the bulk of the footwork in that respect. 

I feel sorry for kids who didn't have a dad growing up. I know some and they are fine individuals, but would have been much better had they been provided with half the dad I got. I take after my dad a lot. I surprise myself by the amount I do. I have met a lot of people in my life but I don't think I've met a better planner and organiser than him. Sure, some people may be smarter (although the more I think about who exactly, the more I doubt that statement) but no one puts faith into the world like he does. Even when the world kicks him in the teeth. My dad has this amazing ability of starting out every task or project, with the belief that everyone in the world is a good person who will work as hard as he will. And living in India, when this IS the case, it's a pleasant surprise. When I see my dad bitter or angry it saddens me because I know why. I think he wishes everyone would keep to their word like he did. He isn't perfect and we have had our disagreements, but there's something about his attitude towards life that I've hopefully got a bit of and that is to go out into any endeavour and trust other people to do their best. It's an honesty you'd be hard pressed to find and I love him for it. I love when my dad puts on his reading glasses, gets a pen and paper, and draws up a table. It sums him up. Also, did mention that he knows everything?

I can't imagine my dad when he's older but I sure can picture my mum, say, 20 years down the line. She'll be sitting in our garden, reading Bliss Divine or some such text and smiling. My mum is always smiling. I have always been a big fan of my mum, right from a very early age. She will no doubt harp on about the various things I've said to/about her over the years in the comments box - I eagerly await them! I love when my mum gets angry. Her temper usually lasts for four to five minutes. It's triggered by something as trivial as my sister (I'm tempted to end this sentence here) wanting a different snack to what everyone else is being made. Soon after, it can be quelled by something like 'shikran' (a simple combination of chopped banana, sugar and milk). Then, she will float away to her office and leave us all smiling. My mum is the kind to walk into my sister's room when we're watching an Arsenal match and ask who's playing, and before we can answer, asking me to go across the street and get some bread. My mother is terrible with technology but I wouldn't have it any other way. I get cheap thrills by lapping up compliments from her/my sister/women in general (oooooh no he didn't!) when I've fixed the most minute technical difficulty. My mum has changed a lot ever since she found yoga but she hasn't really changed in her attitude towards raising me and my sister and I'm grateful. I can't wait to talk about philosophy with her this summer. I have never really sat and discussed deep  matters with my parents - not enough, anyway. This will change. 

I think now that I've grown up (or so I hope), I can look at my parents as individuals rather than my father and mother. I can understand better why they do things, why they make mistakes and what drives them. This has been fascinating because it was like meeting two new people. And they were amongst the most interesting people I've had the pleasure of knowing. My parents used to be these two godly figures whom I had no choice but to obey and I could only look at them as my parents, not as Vijay Bhat and Nilima Bhat. I see all the bad in the world and I think it is balanced by what I feel when I think of my family. They are the good in my world. Not the only good, but probably the biggest contributor. I don't think I'd change a thing about the way they've raised me. 

I'm glad we ate as a family. I'm glad you got angry at me when I lied. I'm glad you didn't force me to do things I didn't fully believe in. I'm glad you recognised what inexpressible joy football brings me. I'm glad you made us write those holiday reports. I wouldn't change a thing.

Thank you. For everything.


PS. I still think you over-reacted when I broke that window ;-)

5 comments:

Vijay Bhat said...

Hehe.

I agree dad over-reacted when you broke that window. (Now, what sort of a kid would we have raised if he grew up WITHOUT having broken one? ;-)

And yes, you had a LOT to do with turning out the way you did. The debate between Nature and Nurture has not been settled yet but you KNOW you were born wise, don't you?

But thank you so much for all the wonderful things you have said about dad AND me. (Thanks for seeing that we are two entities and not banded-together in a vague mix called 'the folks'.

So! All these years in the teens when I thought my lil fan had stopped noticing how nice his mum was, were not really so. BIG HUG for that. Muah.

Will cook up a big pot of your favourite something and savour it by way of 'thank you'. ;-)

Seriously, been missing you a lot and was wondering why you haven't emailed. And here is your amazing public tribute. I'm a bit overwhelmed reading it, so pardon the flippant tone.

Mum

Vijay Bhat said...

I agree and apologise for my many 'over-reactions' over the years!

The inexpressible joy in my life is to participate in and to watch you and Shambhu grow into fine human beings, with both 'roots' and 'wings' firmly intact.

Growth means weaving together the strands of what you've inherited from Mum and me, along with the strands of your own thoughts, feelings, choices and experience ... to create a whole new fabric. Then you will have taken our legacy FORWARD.

I'm so looking forward to our next 'signature family holiday' this summer ... nothing will give me greater pleasure that to interact with you both as individuals, rather than just as our 'bacchhas'.

And since you've waxed eloquent about the value of holiday reports, we hope to see one after this holiday too!

Love & Mush,

Dad.

kyra said...

You should know that I've spent around twenty minutes staring at this blank comment box wondering what to write. I didn't know my writer's block would extend to comments as well. :)


I didn't know it was possible to feel so happy for complete strangers. Enough said, I think?

mathatheist said...

"It's triggered by something as trivial as my sister (I'm tempted to end this sentence here)"...ha ha ha.

Lovely this post was. :)

Priya Shaikh said...

Hey Shravan:

I am touched to the last hair on my head beta ... what wonderful thoughts and beautiful expression!You have floored me :)

I must say you have a natural flair for writing and you should continue to do so on the side ... you never know it might develop into something great :) BTW it would be fun to upload all your holiday reports word to word without editing them to perfection -- I am sure they would be a fun read! What say!?

God bless and loads of love --Priya Aunty