He Is My Role Model, He is Much More!
On a cold January night, as the city I stayed for 13 years was getting ready to bid good-bye to the Winter, my father was steadying himself to see me off. I had gotten a job in a city far away and that meant my weekly visits would now turn into quarterly or semi-yearly ones. While I was packing my belongings, partly with the memories of the city and the gift of happiness that it had shared with me, my heart was heavy, for I was leaving my old man. I couldn't comprehend the depth of my departure. Afterall, I had prepared for this moment, this day for quite sometime.
My dad, Ujjal Kumar Mukherjee, has been my role model since the time I could differentiate between the right and the wrong. I am amazed just thinking about the life that has been thrown up to him and the kind of fight that he still manages to bring on to the table every single day. This isn't just a post about how awesome he is, but just a mark of gratitude of all the things that he has done for me, with or without his knowledge.
Belonging to a refugee family trying to find their foothold in a new country after the war, my father battled intense poverty right from the start. Losing my grandfather at an early stage, my father, the third son, really had to make everyday count. Doing odd jobs to make both ends meet, dad did everything he could to push through college. He walked 14kms a day to school and had a pocket allowance of 50p a day to study in college. No lunch.
But it isn't the odds that he faced that makes me so proud about him, it's how he dealt with them. Every single day, he did something or the other that he loved. He did plays to rid him off the depression, kept himself busy with jobs that paid absolutely peanuts. And above all, he made profit. His day began at 4am, when he had to go a place far away to bring food for his ducks. While coming back, he played football, something that he still beats me to. He sold the eggs in the market at a premium and bought a cow with the money. He sold milk products and actually made a decent earning to help him buy the books and all other items, besides chipping in and helping my Thakuma, my grandmother in running the household. He skipped entire childhood to support the people he cared for.
He soon realised that odd jobs won't serve him any good. And during/after college, he immediately applied to join the Indian Air Force. He had Rs.50 with him when he boarded the train to Pune. The job didn't pay him that much during those days, but he still managed to push through the training period and even saved money to spend it on movies starring Hema Malini, whom he is a HUGE fan off. Try changing the channel when Baghban airs.
He was married off early, which was the norm those day. I was born 2 years later in Chandigarh. Brought up in the military environment, shifting cities and new friends, I saw my parents fall apart. It was a bitter period, I saw him in a state no child should see his/her father in. I stayed by his side. It took him 8 years to secure my custody and a lot many sleepless nights to finally bring me home. I stayed with my uncle until then, who was also in the Air Force. My father visited me once or twice a year. Best 20 days of the year!
He finally retired in the year 2000, and we moved in to Barrackpore, where he hailed from. Every single day, I saw not the guy who was given lemons from life, but the guy who made lemonades out it. My dad is a multi-talented person. He bettered his cooking skills during his retirement training from a 5-star hotel. After retiring, he joined his brother and together they started off in the medical business. Every single day was a struggle, but he ensured that his son had the best meal of the day and everything that he needed.
I completed schooling, college, then did my masters in Mass Communication and spent the first few years of my career in Kolkata, visiting my family every weekend. Father-son conversations are short, so much so that a person over hearing the conversation might not deduce much from that. However, when i asked him how did he pull off such an amazing feat, he came up with five simple pointers:
No matter what happens, be dedicated in the thing that feeds you. If you play the violin or study or work or maybe even boil the milk, do it with dedication. Works everytime.
No matter how much you earn, save 10%. It's not how much you earn that matters, but how much you save. My father still saves every single month.
Friends are Important
You may be busy, too busy at times. But always take out time for a friend who calls. They have given you their valuable time by remembering about you. Thank them by just being by their side. If you have friends, you are rich.
The Daily Question
Before going off to sleep, try and ask yourself one simple question - What was the one productive thing that you did today? When you ask yourself this question every day, the morning after is easily dealt with. You begin your day fully focused.
There's Always a Way Out
Things might be, and in all probability, will be hard. The things and the people that you feel confident in, might crumble right in front of you. Don't lose heart. Go off to sleep and focus on the job at hand. Endure. Things will work out eventually.
He ushered me to a wonderful life. Yes, he couldn't give me what normal children are offered, but he offered me enough. He showed me the fight without picking me up. This has kept me grounded. This has kept me humble.
And even though while packing my bags, he was downstairs, preparing my favourite food (despite knowing I was travelling Rajdhani Express which serves meals). He came upstairs, tiffin in hand. And then it hit me. He never told me that he loved me, never told anyone else that he loved me. But I got his love, his affection, through that tiffin box. He saw me crouching on the bed, bags opened and stuff still not packed. He came up to me and he said, "Better to be sad for me than to be sad for yourself in the future. Let's pack!"
Thank you, Dad. Happy Mother's day.