THE FATHER I CAN’T ASK FOR MORE —ROSES FOR MY DAD—
Today (2nd Oct 2013) is the fourth death anniversary of my loving father, and here my family and I, along with everyone who had shown us so much love recalls the sacrifices that my dad had given thus far. His courageous thoughts and exemplary deeds which he showed us are still alive in us, and shall continue to be deeply rooted in the tablet of our hearts.
I remember those days, sitting under the thatch roof, leaking with the downpour of rains, yet still audacious enough to dream of becoming an IAS officer, while my brother talked of teaching in Delhi University and likewise other siblings would have different dreams. Sometimes the discussion would drag on for hours together till midnight, and my mother would be calling out from her bed yelling us to sleep, not because it’s late but because the firewoods were getting burnt up. She was right because she had to worry about collecting fire woods. Today after 13 years years or so we are living our dreams but the one who made us dream these dreams and helped us realized these dreams is no more. But the one thing which I shall never be able to live without is his love for all his kids and these memories are by no means erasable from our memories.
As a father of 7 kids with only a marginal income from being a primary school teacher, it was impossible to carry the family and make the both ends meet—to feed us and send us all to school. As much as all parents desire to send their kids to private schools, my parents made sure that we were not left out in this race. We were not only sent to private schools but to the best schools in town.
After my class 10 and my brother having done his 12th class decided to move out of town for further studies to Shillong. But for that we didn’t have a penny, yet still were confident of making it before the deadline. My dad was very confident that we would make it and meet all the requirements. Yes, we put all that we had but too less, so we went on a borrowing spree and people were definitely good—they were happy to extend their helping hands. My father ran from pillar to post because his wishes and dreams were too strong to pull him down with financial constraints.
Journey of ‘HOPE’ began taking its shape the day my brother and I set our feet on the bus from Tamenglong. My father stood at the bus-stand with tears of joy in his eyes, but his words were firm saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way, God is with you my sons.” It was while in Shillong we were met with what was to be called the most challenging period of our entire career. I remember those days where we, sometimes, had to go empty stomach after studying the entire day. But the encouragement never died down and it made us impossible to give up irrespective of whatever it came our way. There were times where our dad would just send us Rs. 1000 (one thousand) for the entire month. But, in every communication we had, he would conclude with these words “SON WHATEVER YOU NEED PLEASE LET ME KNOW, SPEND WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO, EAT VITAMINS AND GOOD FOOD AND GIVE YOUR BEST, AS LONG AS I AM ALIVE DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING”. He would tell us that he would send us more after he completed building this or that houses or after making that particular furniture for people and with their payment he would send us the remaining balance. The money he sent us was never enough, but it was never less in spirit. We would spend it to the best and our hearts were always glad with whatever we got. I really don’t know how many fathers can assure their children to such an extent.
He was someone who would fight till the end, and make sure that we children would never compromise on their dreams. When in 2005, my brother completed his Masters and I completed my graduation, we were all set to start my preparation for the Civil Services; the condition was such that it was impossible to start the new chapter of our career with the present condition. So my brother decided to stop his higher education and start working in some private sector, but that would mean the end of his dream to be a professor. He got into JNU for his M. Phil but did not take the admission. Once my dad came to know of our decision that my brother would stop his studies to work, he was really angry with our decision, he broke down that day over the phone and once again reassured us that even if he had to shed blood to see our dreams come true he would still do it. He told my brother to take an admission to M. Phil in Delhi University. And he did so. Now my brother Jeremiah is living his dream as Assistant Professor in Delhi University teaching English. It would never have been possible had it not been for that call from my dad reassuring us of his undying sacrifice and love.
Be it summer or winter my dad could never have full satisfying sleep as much as he would have loved to. By 3 am. in the morning he would be up discussing with my mother on how to go about arranging for the next installment that he had to send for his kids studying outside and which loan’s interest is due and whom to pay first. I guess he never had sound sleep thinking about all these issues. It was a few months that we started getting settled in life and we said, “Now he should be able to have a rest that he truly deserves which never happened “.
By 5 am we would all be up and would see that our breakfast had been well prepared and ready. We would gladly have our share and jump into our books. After all these preparation my dad would then be out for his carpentry works by 5:30 am only to be back late in the evening sometimes if the moonlit is good he would go on as late as 7:30 pm it was very rare to see our dad during the day time—he would always be out for works. The carpentry works he did for was just like something where the real object was taken away and you just struggled to get the image cleaned up.
The money for the work would have either been drawn in advance or used up to repay the interest of the loan borrowed for us. I used to wonder what really motivated my dad so much to complete the works despite the returns for the work already finished even before the start of the work. It was nothing else that motivated him but the need and necessity that we would be demanding at the end of the month for our studies. I could never see my dad so healthy and fresh. He seemed to be always engaged with a heavy thought and it was really obvious that another call from us would mean another big installment for him to arrange and meet the deadline.
But truly he put his faith in God and lived with so much hopes and faith in whatever he was doing for us. He was one father who just had no doubt about the success that awaited him from all of us. To him with every penny he sent us, it was like coming closer to that dream bit by bit.
It was rather impossible for all of us not to do well in whatever we did. The desire in him for us to give our best was so much that it was like an offer impossible to be refused. As I was preparing for the Civil Services I could see that more than me wanting it, it was my father who wanted me to make it. It was very clear from this, when I cleared in the Indian Revenue Service(IRS) in 2008 he was so upset and started asking himself, “why and what went wrong in my son’s preparation? Despite having given everything, why is this still ignoring us and seems a distant dream?” I along with my friends thought it was quite an achievement for the family like mine to have come thus far, but my father refused to die down. Two hours after the result I got back to make my study routine for another courageous attempt again to see how much my dad’s desire would take me. I said, “God I will do my best, you do the rest now.”
I was in Mumbai when the result that I got into the IAS was announced. As soon as I got to know of it I gave that one phone call to my dad who had waited for his lifetime.
Speechless as he was, couldn’t speak much over the phone at that moment as we were all overjoyed with tears of happiness. More than my success for me it was my dad’s earnest desire to see me successful that over flooded my eyes with tears. The first though that crossed my mind on getting my result was this—“yes dad, here I’m, you may stop worrying and from this moment on you can rely on us for the rest of your life, and we shall give you peace and rest of mind you deserve million times.”
Now that all six of his children had graduated from Delhi University from some of the best colleges in the university like those of St Stephen’s, Hindu College and Delhi School of Economics. As of now, I am living my dream as a young IAS Officer and my brother too as Assistant Professor in Delhi University ( English department), and another sister specialised in English Language Teaching and now is looking forward to move beyond the country. And now even the youngest brother has done his M. Com from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics, and the youngest sister Delhi university. And another sister did her graduation from Delhi University is now actively involved as a social worker be it in students’ union or women’s cause. My dad would have loved to see these days very much but I am sure he is looking at us from heaven and giving a caring smile upon us all. We too would love to see him happy and contented with his children’s achievement.
Had he been with us today he would have loved to see new members of the family well qualified in their own profession. My elder brother married a very qualified lady, teaching as assistant professor in Delhi university and my younger brother too married a journalist, this was one of his several dreams to see that his sons and daughters settles well in life.
The most regrettable thing is that I couldn’t be with him in his last days. I had to undergo my regular training and was away on a track tour in the Himalayas where there wasn’t even a phone network.
After one of the biggest celebration at home for the success in june 2009, he started falling sick in august 2009. And within 2 months he was no more with us. When I visited him one week prior to his dead he was already senseless. I could see that he wanted to say so many things , but unable to do so, his tears speaks a million things. He was diagnosed with a blood cancer, and doctor asked us what did he do, it seems all his bone marrow are gone because he had worked too much and too exhausted. We were all ready even to give our bone marrow for replacement for dad if at all possible. Living life with a disable body and keeping dad would have been several times better. Too sad even those things were not possible. Dad, we wished to serve you better and longer even in your dead bed, but you just gave us no time to serve the least we could.
While I was still in Harkidun (Uttarakhand), and along the way as I spoke to my brother in Delhi over the satellite phone of the army, my brother had just to say this “our dad passed away last night.” I really had no idea how much energy I had that day, but God gave me enough strength to run over 50 Km to reach the nearest taxi point and catch a bus or taxi to Delhi. And of course by God’s grace I was able to at least attend the funeral in time.
Today, as we his children for whom he had given everything start living the dreams we all dreamt once sitting under the leaking thatch-roof we are never fully satisfied in his absence, and the joy we share never seems to be complete. Every time I get on into my vehicle for my office works I always thought my dad you have missed this chance to ride with me. Everyone who comes to meet me in the office or at home would take his name how and what he was to them, I can only say this to you dad “ we all missed you so much”.
But as we move along we consider that God has a plan beyond what we can all imagine. May God continue to bless his soul and all the well wishers and may our nation have many more fathers like mine who sacrificed so much as to be talked about, and be remembered as someone who gave everything for his children’s dream.
The writer is an I.A.S. of 2009 batch presently serving as Jt. Secretary, Tribal Affairs and Hills, Govt. of Manipur. It is being reproduced at Manipurtimes with the consent from the writer.