Wednesday, July 02, 2014

"I am trying my best"

It's that time of the year again, and I thought I should write something about Papa, for myself and for everyone who still thinks of him. My memory disappoints me in recalling the finer details of my time with him, so the little figments that remain with me are bias blends of what actually happened and what I thought happened. The human mind has a tendency to scale up the bitterness when registering an event from the past, which leaves you with little to cherish and a lot to blame. It's not a good thing, but it is what it is.

When I hear others talk about having shared a very happy moment Papa, it creates an image that sometimes conflicts with mine. I was, after all, a kid at first and later a teenager with the usual issues of self-indulgence and he had to be a strict father and say "no" more often than he would have liked to. Eventually, I feel puzzled and guilty for not remembering things correctly and keep my side of the "story" to myself, like a research publication with sketchy references to back it up.

Recently, my Gmail account started complaining about lack of space and forced me into going through 10 years of mails to get rid of some. It's worse than cleaning a hoarder's room, really. You are talking about going through 10 years of conversations and feeling embarrassed by your 10-years-younger self. You are talking about Orkut as opposed to Facebook, about college lingo that was a horrible twist on English and Hindi, about countless chats discussing fickle crushes, about being the center of the (your) universe. I got rid of tonnes of emails asking to "make 'frandship' because u have a nice profile", why did I save those emails in the first place?!

Interspersing hundreds of useless emails, there were some exchanges that had been treated with utmost indifference, but are now precious gems due to an unforeseen development in 2009. Email conversations with Papa were to the point, like text messages (SMSs) used to be in the 90s and early 2000s. They were mostly about whether he had reached safely at a conference and whether he thought his talk had gone well. Some mails were more generously worded and ended with "love you two/three" or "missing you all" or something of that sort. While he was in some foreign land prepping for his presentation, my sister and I would ask Ma if he was going to wear the "white-wala" or "grey-wala" suit. Sometimes she'd know which one, other times we'd find out from a picture of his presentation. His signature bandhgala suits.

As I progressed through the emails and slowly approached 2009, I found an email that hit closest to heart and has altered my memories forever. It was an email sent from Korea, I think, a part of our conversation on how he should buy a web cam or some other electronic equipment while he was there. In those days I felt it was my responsibility to give my father free advice on electronic purchases and how to keep up with technology.

"...
I am trying my best. 
Papa." 

My response to the email was of a cocky adolescent who thought she knew more than her parents. The conversation is from a time that cannot be changed. It also epitomizes everything that my mind chose to tuck away in some dark corner of my brain, only to make room for unnecessary bitterness and egoistic dissatisfaction. It has brought back all those forgotten moments, when he had tried his best for me, for you, for all of us. And that's all that should have mattered, and counts anymore.

2 comments:

Sushma Mathur said...

He was very proud of you that you got in to DCE and then manage to get internship in U.S. He was so happy that he didn't take a minute to decide that Asmita should also go and spent time together. He was very satisfied about the fact that you two ( sisters ) loved each other and took care of each other's.... I am proud of having two lovely daughters like you two.... God bless you both.
Ma

Sarita said...

Divita, you write so well. Words flow effortlessly(it seems) and lucidly. Salute him and salute yr tributes. Proud to be related to him so closely and to u three- his dear daughters and wife.