This post is written by Sunita of Sunita's World.
A few months ago, I watched a programme on the BBC channel. In it, a lady was trying to restore the garden which once belonged to her father, who was no more. She had given up her busy job and social circle in London and returned to her family home which she had inherited. She was also the full time carer of her mother who was terminally ill.
The lady was very attached to her father, for whom the garden had a special place. During his lifetime, he nurtured it like a baby. She, now, with some help from professionals, was trying to restore it to its former glory. In other words, she was trying to keep her father's memories alive. It was really touching , when the work had been completed. One could sense the many emotions that were running through her mind. She was virtually trying to visualise the many years of joy that she had experienced in that very garden . There was no doubt about the very strong bond that she must have shared with her father.
The pain of losing one's parents hits very hard-but it is more so if one is particularly attached to that parent. I could'nt help but recollect the memories of my father (God rest his soul in peace!!). We lost him on a July morning nearly thirteen years ago, the victim of a haemmorhage.
Deuta (pronounced de-oo-ta, meaning father in Assamese) was a little man with a big personality. By 'little', I literally mean 'Little'. He did not have an imposing figure. In fact sometimes , I wonder at the amount of respect he commanded from everyone....family, friends,colleagues, even his subordinates at work. And he always did so with his quiet presence. He was never a boisterous personality.
Forever the independent spirit, he never waited for anyone to do things which he could do just as well. His sense of dignity of labour was very high and he never shirked from getting into a job, hands-on!!
Deuta followed the principle of practising what he preached. He liked punctuality...and that meant being punctual to the dot . There was once a local community meeting for which no one turned up at the designated time.....except Deuta of course. He was really put off by this , especially considering the fact that the other members were all much younger than him. Needless to say, from the next meeting onwards, all of them were on time .
In a world full of corruption, Deuta kept his resolve never to be swayed by it . And his principles saw him through even in the hardest of times.
Oh I can go on and on about him... I have so much respect and love for him.
I still believe I share a special bond with him. I am the youngest among three children. My elder sister and brother are older to me by eight and six years respectively. So, obviously, during my childhood, I did not have siblings to share my playtime....for they had both grown out of it, too busy with their new teenage experiences. But, I still remember that Deuta was always there for me. He would drag me outdoors (for I had this habit of losing myself in a book most of the time, losing all sense of time and space) and play with me(usually a game of badminton), take me for walks, involve me in his garden(which he was really passionate about) and ensured that I did not feel left out. As the days went by, he was more like a friend to me. At times, I can feel the warmth of his hands , leading the way, helping me cross a busy street.
The great thing about Deuta was that he had an enthusiasm for and interest in all the small pleasures of family life...a well cooked meal by Ma, a good school report about us, our extra curricular achievements, birthdays ,anniversaries, our studies, a football match(an avid footballer himself in his heydays), taking us to the circus or the zoo, and even sharing a laugh over a screen comedy...you name it ...he did it all. He was there by our side, even in our failures, never discouraging us, but urging us to learn from our mistakes and move on.
Deuta was a diciplinarian but in a calm sort of way . We restrained from vices probably because we were afraid to face him.... he was not going to punish us, but because we felt ashamed at letting him down.
Ma and Deuta's marriage was one made in heaven-what one lacked, the other made up for it . Probably, the other reason that Deuta was able to abide by his principles was because he had the full and strong support of Ma. She has always stood by him - whatever the circumstances.
Sometimes I wish he was here. He would have made a wonderful kokadeuta (grandfather). There was so much to learn from him. But, then, I think of one of my cousins who had lost her father in her early teens and her brother was too young to remember him properly. It makes me feel blessed to have received so many years of paternal love and that too from such a genuine man. I cherish all the fond memories that I have of him and tuck them away in a special corner of my heart.
Deuta, I really miss you....even after all these years it still hurts as much.....but wherever you are, I hope you will look down with fond eyes and lead me on like a "kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom".
I was not lucky enough to meet Dinesh's father as both his parents had expired much before we were married. I have heard from him though as well as from family friends about the strong personality that he was. It seems he was a bit of an adventurer, raring to go anywhere. Pity I did not get to know him better.
As for my kids' 'deuta', I don't think it would be fair to compare him to mine or for that matter to anyone else...all that I can say is that he really tries his best and I hope that a great many years from now on, both Rengoni and Agastya will talk about him with the same fondness as I do about mine and Dinesh about his.
As it is soon going to be father's day, I pray for all those who are no longer in our midst but who have managed to touch our lives, leaving a lifelong impression... and to those who are still there, I wish them many more happy years of fathering.
(Most parts of this post have already been published at Sunita's World)