Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Now?

Papa was here a few days back. He stayed with us for almost a month. This was the first time he was visiting me after I set up home post-marriage. I wanted to make a good impression.

What do parents want to see? Not a palatial house or cupboards overflowing with prosperity. All they want to make sure is that their child is happy. 

We travelled for almost 20 days. Me and dad. Just the two of us. From religious Rishikesh to royal Rajasthan to rangeela Punjab. With just a break of one day in between as a breather, we were constantly on the move. This trip was enlightening for both of us.

Baba & I - At the Rashtrapati Bhavan Interiors Tour
I realised that he wasn’t the same Col. Natu who was fighting fit. His knees hurt now. He worried for me and my brother. He missed mom. He feared for his mother  who is 90. All he wanted was peace. He wasn’t what I always thought him to be - my daddy strongest, even though for me he always will be - He was tad bit older.

He realised I wasn’t the same either. I wasn't the bubbly, effervescent girl who would run to him with all her problems. I wasn’t asking him for any help. Instead I was offering him a hand as he climbed the stairs (which he refused fiercely). I didn’t let him pick the suitcases. I insisted he wear sports shoes on the trip and sternly eyed him when he spoke loudly on the phone or cleared his throat in public. He was prohibited from going anywhere unattended. I wasn't what he always thought me to be - his little girl - I was tad bit older too.

During one of the train journeys he asked me why I wasn’t the same old me? I laughed and replied, “you are not the same old you either”. 

We came back to Delhi. He spent time at home. Partha (my doctor husband) has this serene quality which can put everyone at ease in an instant. Baba adores him to the extent that he will squarely blame me for anything that goes wrong, not him. I guess that's privilege most sons-in-law get.

One night Partha had to rush out for an emergency around 11:30 pm. He phoned me once he had reached the destination and once he realised he was going to take time. Dad was awake all this while. I had dozed off. He couldn’t understand how I could go to sleep when my husband is out. He asked me when Partha was going to be back. I replied sleepily, “ I don’t know.”

Papa looked a little displeased and scolded, “How can you not be worried about him?”.

Many previous worrisome nights flashed through my mind when I would go insane in the early months of our marriage whenever he stepped out at night. These emergency calls weren’t new anymore. I replied, “Oh don’t worry Baba he will come back when he is done. And if something has to go wrong with him, then somebody will surely call us and inform. What’s the point in worrying either way? Go back to sleep”. 

This present day husband-wife equation was new to Dad. My mother would have been worried sick if he were ever out. The logic that life is very demanding and one doesn't want to burden their partner for a lesser reason, doesn't cut ice with him. He flared, “Is there anything you worry about or look forward to?” 

One O’clock in the night was hardly the time to get into these discussions so I ended it with, “No I don’t look forward to anything. Now sleep.”

Partha was back by 2:00am. I opened the door. He walked in. There were no discussions about the patient (he never discusses his patients at home stating patient privacy and confidentiality). Of course I was relieved that he was back and the silent nagging anxiety over his safety was put to rest. We both slept sound and woke up fresh for a new day.

Baba didn’t sleep well. The root cries the most when it sees the branches dividing. That is what he imagined was happening to us.

He asked me as we were having our morning tea, “Are you happy?” I didn’t know what had brought this on. And then I remembered our midnight conversation. I knew just saying ‘yes’ was of no use. I was quiet. My efforts of making a good impression on him were kind of falling flat. What could I say?

Silence has double edged undertones of coming across as sorrow at times. Just like a vibrant emotional spectrum sometimes resonates the falsity of a life lived well.

Overjoyed photographs, public displays of affection, nonstop fretting, word of mouth reaffirmations via friends & family, exotic vacations, fine dining, chirpy status updates, novel gifts etc. are such widely accepted benchmarks of living in the pink cotton candy world that anything else seems less. Makes you look unhappy. The charm of these yardsticks is that they look the reality.

How does one tell the elders who care for you that you don't anxiously look forward to being happy one fine day in the future because you are happy right now. You don’t wait to be at peace someday because you already are. How does one defend the calm waters?

Maybe the answer is hidden somewhere in...
चाह गयी चिंता मिटी, मनवा बेपरवाह 
जिनको कछु ना चाहिए, वो हि शाहंशाह
                                           -  कबीर 

27 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful touching post. Very very nice.

    Glad to have found you at Indiblogger. Your newest follower and aregular visitor now.
    cheers
    Kajal

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  2. Hi Kajal :) you are most welcome here. I saw purple chronicles and guess what....I am a Garfield fan too. What a lovely coincidence that indiblogger made us bump into each other.

    See what I have at home :)
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=451044881122&set=a.451035006122.247461.559266122&type=3&theater

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  3. Such a beautiful, real, honest piece.... Parents will be parents ..whatever age rheir children..they wil always want the best for their kids and the one thing they want to see is that joy, that spark of peace and happiness...in their kids eyes.. Phaar chaan lihil ahes hey.... And while it is true that parameters of happiness differ today in contrast to yesteryears...ur dad knows u guys are truly happy... Nice!

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  4. Beautiful, honest... Though parameters of what constitute happiness have changed almost drastically these past years, yet ur dad would know u r contented and at peace .... After all the only thing constant is change... Keep writing!

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  5. Yes he knows that but it is in their nature to keep questioning it which takes away their joy of knowing it :) I guess that is what a parent will do selflessly for you which no one else will...question everything until they are sure of it.

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  6. Very well written Vandana. I lost my day recently and I can see him in yours .. the same feelings the same concern , his constant question ' Are you happy"? :) ..

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  7. Yes Subha...parents and their selfless oft repeated question "Are you Happy" :) You never know how to answer that. I am sorry to hear about your father. They are the men we always look up to all our lives.

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  8. so well written...vandana di..really parents will be parents always..keep writing..:)

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  9. Hi neeta....yes they will always be parents...no matter what you do :)

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  10. read re-read...revived many a similar instances when my mom looks into my eyes with her eyes searching for clues,asking yet not asking ....."are u happy".....Vandy another very straight from heart piece...keep wandering and keep writing..Deepa

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  11. that was touchy...all parents are same, everywhere, it seems...

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  12. Deepa, yes they ask yet not ask but this time he sure did :)

    KHOJ, I can imagine you going 'are you happy' a million times when you visit your daughter when she gets married :)

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  13. Really moving post Vandana. My parents also worry a lot about me. I think getting old has a lot to do with it because all parents want to see their children settled and happy with an absolute finality. It's like, our son/daughter is happy from this day onwards and that's it; there should be no reversal of fortunes any time in future. That kind of assurance makes them feel happy.

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  14. What a way to put it...'finality of happiness' is exactly what parents look for. from this day on, my child has been happy :)

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  15. Very touchy. Recently, I lost both parents within a year and I can see both of them in your writing.

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  16. Very touchy. Recently, I lost both parents within a year and I can see them in your writing.

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  17. Hi Mohana, my heart just sank when I read your comment. I lost my mom a couple of years back and that void still runs deep. To lose both parents must feel like someone has taken away the roof away. Welcome to the blog. Hope some of the writings on parents (which you will find under love/relationships label) will remind you of happy times with them and make you remember your parents with fondness and a smile.

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  18. Tears in my eyes. You have expressed my feelings very well in your note, It is hard to loose parents and if it is very unexpectedly it is really hard to believe that they are no more. Unfortunately, both passed away very unexpectedly. I have written poem and story about it on my blog. Sometimes it feels like everything is meaning less and feel guilty, when we have to move on with our lives.
    I will read your other posts later.

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  19. वाचली में कविता तुझी. 'आस'. कमेन्ट पण केलय तिथे. माला माझे बाबाच दिसले तुझ्या कविते मधून माला बघताना.

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  20. It is a beautiful post Vandana. Loved it.

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  21. Thanks Babita. Baba/Daddy/Abba/Appa....whatever name one gives him...he will be always the person lil girls will look up to.

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  22. wow, i loved reading about Baba and you. i was feeling your post as I read it as I have a daddy who i love very much too and hold close to my heart. I wish they would be daddy strongest forever.

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  23. Hi Coral, yes we want our daddy to be strongest forever :) Welcome to the blog. I checked out your blog. Very unique. There are so many interesting reviews of skin products that make me wonder if you work in the field of skincare. A very very unusual, pretty and informative blog I must say :)

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  24. Hi Vandana, u write beautiful,,, Love the pic of u and ur dad. Times change, we get older,, we replace roles with our parents,, they are now the babies... Life moves on .. the change,,, Change happens b'cos there is a gap,, a gap between "what is" and "what should be".. which is up to us to mould and create..for happier times. Love ur writings and pictures. Sunjay (yup Seattle :)))

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  25. O my God ....Sunjay C from Seattle :) the one with the black n white cat and a green honda city?? What a pleasant surprise :) Good to hear from you.

    Welcome to Raindrop and thanks for your kind words. Yes I agree, times change and it is upon us to make them into happier experiences. To see strong, independent people become frail later in life gently reminds us of the road ahead.

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Thanks for stopping by :)