After 36 years of service as a professor in an University, my father retired on the 30th of April ’08. We couldn’t be there ( and I will never forgive myself for not being there when my either of my parents retired ), but we got to know that it was a grand affair.
My mom tells me that they gave him a diamond studded ring. Every research scholar who at some point or the other worked with him presented him a shawl. Or a sandal garland. Or a flower decked garland. I am told there was a grand function. And that the function was showcased on a local cable channel was perhaps the icing. After 36 years, well, this must have been one heck of a farewell
I am told that there were visitors at home of all hue. Of people who worked with him in the past. The present. Long ‘lost’ ‘friends’ & ‘colleagues’. People who he got along well with. Who he talked about often. Men who took care of him during his last days of work life. To him they were sons of a different order.
36 years is a long time. These 36 years saw him get married, raise two sons, get them married, fight their wrong attitudes and of course, stretch them, push them and of course, fight Parkinsons. Retired life is not going to be the same for him. I am not sure what kind of turn it is going to take. I only hope it is for the good.
He has been a man of impeccable virtue. His life dotted with simple deeds that gave disproportionately large payoffs for the recepients. His good deeds for others used to come unobturisively. Like a waiter serving you a plate of idlis and moving on to the next table.
If I read Iacocca & Wayn Dyer when other kids of my age were still reading up Amar Chitra Katha & Hardy Boys, a large part of the credit goes to him. At times, he used to stick to his guns. I intensly disliked him when he made me study math. But then, that was a difference, I will never forget being thankful to him for.
I remember him driving me around in the Vijay Super scooter of yesteryears. Ofcourse I recall the Hero Honda CD 100. It was one of the first vehicles in town. The white Ambassdor is a clearer memory. Somewhere inbetween,, he bought me a bicycle. I think it was a brand http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/topamax_generic.html named ‘Paramount’. I have vague pictures of him buying that for Rs.650, and taught me to ride it too. Ineffect he ran with me and taught me to take my first ride. I have never stopped since.
They say fathers are very special. But this one really was. On my marriage he told me what he has always told me, ‘Health is most important. Safety is most important. You will be a fine young man’. Those words were a mere hiss as he whispered them to me using all of the the energy Parkinsons allowed him to have. I only hope I will live upto it all someday be worthy of it all.
They say a teachers influence never ever stops. Many of his students are now professors and teachers in their own right. And they say they owe it to him. I guess a few more generations will continue to be touched by him and what he stood for.
He was far from being a Perfect Man. He had his faults. Like everybody else. But I deeply admire & love him for what he resolutely stood for, even when he couldn’t stand physically. If words nuclear missiles, what was hurled at him could have wiped off the solar system. From somewhere, he had the resolute courage to wade on.
Now we are grown up men. Me and my brother. We have thoughts that are quite apart from his. We live in much bigger cities and we are chartering our ships in unaccustomed waters. When we look ahead, we look ahead with the strength that comes from the what he put inside us. A strength no storm can blow away.
The love, respect and admiration for him has gone up over the years. I worry for him and think often about him. We have discussed his retirement with him many times, as though it was the global price of petrol. But now that it is here, and here to stay, its time to have a more ‘consequential dialogue’.
As we used to kickstart the bike or as we used to pack our bags to leave home, he used to always tell us, “safety is most important. Health is most important’. Today as he switches off his work engine, those are the words that I would tell him.
Appa: Safety is most important. Health is most important. You will be a fine man. We are with you.