Dharma has been on one of his bummy nights again and somehow, his post took me back in time when I used to drive home late after college.
We used to live quite far away from the city. There were no street lights beyond the highway, the four-five kilometer stretch was pitch dark in the middle of fields and farmhouses. I would be home pretty late. Baba and aaji would be at the edge of their seats, watching TV, but always looking at the gate from the open door. When I look back, I can't really pin-point what to make of their parenthood. (Talking about parenthood, Void has also asked some interesting questions...)
My parents could easily have been those careful, mindful parents who don't let their daughters alone at night. They should have been, if you think conventionally. For there were more chances than less that I could have met with many of those sorry incidents on the long, lonely stretch. And they weren't the mobile-happy types either- 'This and call, that and call... No way! (So when my baba called, it would be a cue that he's really worried and time to move asap, which I didn't...) So what was it that made them let me be the way I was?
Someday, I am going to ask them, what made them give me the liberty they did. And how they managed to keep a tab on their anxiety on all those late nights. But for them, I would not have felt the thrill of being alone, nervous, happy---feeling so completely on my own on the long roads home. Perhaps it was their way of throttling us with cartloads of trust. Their trick was to trust us completely, with a child-like innocence and a fanatic reverence.
Someday, I am going to tell them they have been the most fabulous people I have ever met. My parents may not exactly qualify as guiding angels, the kinds who chalk their child’s future with a neatly planned itinerary of courses, degrees and careers.
Aaji consistently nagged me to work hard, but she never nagged me to be this or that. Baba, when I look back, was only concerned with my being happy. In his vocabulary, perhaps Happy = Full-stop.
I remember once when I was particularly scared before the boards, I sat with him.
“So, you think you won’t even manage to pass, is it?”
“I am not sure”
A short pause.
“Okay, never mind. Nothing matters, actually. Just stop being afraid. I hate it when you move around with that scared and sad face.”
And then, he said something some other time. From his bed where he sleeps all his time after office, shaking the right leg, reading a book, and always ordering this or that (his constant demand is fresh nimboo pani), my lazy, often irritating, but consistently loving and innocent father promised me late one night:
“Remember, no matter what you do and what the world says, I will always be with you till I am alive”.
At that time, though I was touched, what he said really didn’t make sense given that I hadn’t done, or didn’t even intend to do, anything outrageous. But today, I know. And it feels so good.
I leave you with a painting he did a few days back. (I can imagine his child-like glee if he reads this post, especially when he sees his painting online).