My Daddy’s day

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My mobile phone screen flashed the sixteenth message declaring an unmissable offer for the Father’s day – a discount of ten per cent on a day spa, a free glass of wine, shirts, bags – you name it and I have it in the inbox. I just checked the latest one declaring a complimentary stay at a hotel exclusively for fathers and put the damn thing on silent mode. The screen continued to flash. Father’s day – one day marked on the calendar exclusively for dads. I peep into the boys’ room and I find them making greeting cards, evident from shreds of paper and open bottles of paint strewn all over the floor next to a sleeping dog with a tinge of blue in his fur. I quietly leave as I didn’t want to be flooded with requests for being their art critic of the day.

It is Saturday, and I have missed all last minute enticing offers for Father’s day tomorrow. I am not a cynic. I do not turn and scoff at all the days that have cropped up in our side of the world during the last two decades or so. In fact I think it is a nice idea to stop once in a while and thank the people who matter, make them feel loved and in case of Father’s Day, make them feel like the Marvel Superhero that they are.  As far as the discounted goods are concerned – I shall give it  a miss. Do fathers really need gifts? Of course not! A superhero just needs his cape. Gifts are to make sure a bunch of companies do not shut shop.

‘So what are you going to give nana, mum?’ Vivaan asked without looking up from the final piece of a quilled flower that he was sticking on to his card. ‘What do you think? Will papa like this?’ He didn’t wait for my answer and I ended up where I didn’t want to be – the critic who couldn’t truly be critical. As he ran off, I thought about his question – what was I going to give him? What could I give him? Can any discount coupon or a complimentary spa day really thank the one and only superman there is?

The proverbial ‘our times’ never had a special day designated to celebrate the man who mattered the most. Moms always got the cuddles but fathers mostly hid behind knitted brows and a bushy moustache. But every once in a while the cape showed and they saved the world – like the day I came back with all limbs scratched from a bicycle race that had happened too soon. The boys had sped past and jeered at my wobbly pedalling. Obviously I chased, sped past but couldn’t apply breaks. Papa’s favourite medicine for scrapes and cuts was the Old Spice After-shave. It stung. His remedy– he’d give us his hand to bite on. The more it stung, the harder we bit and he quietly dressed our wounds. As we grew older, he got many bites.

Having grown into an obnoxious teenager, birthdays were more resentful than fun. On one such birthday, mum and dad decided to take me shopping. Halfway through south extension market, mum and I were not talking since I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted and worse appeared mostly disinterested. The superman, however, believed (and still does) that birthdays are special days even for the kids who were bent upon being a pain in the backside. So from south ex we went to Karol Bagh and anyone who knows Delhi would understand that parking a car there required a particularly high level of commitment to the cause of shopping. That was equally disastrous and the two women bickered more but he very patiently drove us to Connaught Place. And the disgruntled teenager was suddenly transformed into a wide-eyed six year old. He bought me my first aquarium. That one smile on my face seemed to have erased all that I had put them through. So how do you thank the man for being so patient and resisting whacking me that day. I know now that I would have driven my boys back home from the first shop they acted like brat. But he didn’t – birthdays had to be truly special.

Last evening while driving back, Ishaan asked, ‘Mum who is going to teach me how to drive?’ He likes to have all things cleared way before hand.

‘I will or maybe papa can. Nana taught me, you know.’

His groans of disapproval were drowned by the smile that found its way on my face. Grand Trunk Road, twenty years ago, he sat beside me as I drove at barely thirty km/h . The honking from the cars behind me was making me nervous and he calmed me down. I still remember the confidence in his voice when he said , ‘Bebu, You keep driving, Whoever is in a hurry can always overtake.’ I will never know if he was freaking out on the inside, as at that moment all I could see was his cape.

All it takes to brighten up his face is his children. You need to see his eyes that easily brim over on hearing anyone mention how great his kids have turned out.  He’ll never admit it though. Supermen are tough that way. From baking a chocolate cake in a pan to buying the hottest trend of the times – a balloon skirt – he has done it all. He has never written elaborate cards and rarely reciprocated ‘I love you’s ’ with ‘me too’ – it is mostly a hesitant ‘thanks.’ Yet, I know that for him the only people that matter may be a tad bit more than his two kids are his grandkids. Yeah, those four buggers are blatantly stealing our thunder now. Nevertheless, I remain his princess and bhaiya his shining star. The younger lot are more like the adorable pixies.

Then, is a day enough to thank the belief he has in us? We could fall, stumble, scrape our knees all over again but we will never be afraid for we know that there is a man standing behind us (with his cape flowing behind him) who believes we can reach the farthest star. No, a single day is not enough but it sure is a nice way of letting him know all over again that he is the best in the business.

So while the pixies are painting an elaborate card and planning an exquisite breakfast for their father, I am doing nothing. Like every year I will call him and wish him and he will say ,’ What Father’s day? It’s all a gimmick!’ followed by a whisper of a thanks when I tell him , ‘I love you papa.’

originally posted at –   My Daddy’s day

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