Every year, Father’s Day comes right after Appa’s (meaning father, in Tamil) birthday. And, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had endless discussions with my mother and brother about what would be the perfect gift for him. A wallet? A tie? An iPod loaded with his favourite songs? We gave it all and more, and every year, he securely wrapped it in a box and kept it in one corner of his wardrobe, to be taken out when needed and to be kept back in the exact same place every single time.
This year though, there was no hullabaloo at home as Father’s Day approached. Everybody seemed to be oblivious to the fact that a celebration was around the corner. Then, one day, I came across a few beautifully written posts about what each person’s father meant to them. Upon reading them, I had my Eureka moment. I wanted to write about Appa too. Not to show him how much I loved him, but to tell the world that, to me, he will always be the first man I fell in love with.
As a child, there were things that I learnt by observing him, and then, as I grew into an adult, there were those that he passed on to me during our long walks across the beach, every Sunday. I probably can’t write about every memory here, so I’ve captured a few that are close to my heart.
When I was a child, tall as a television set, every time Appa came back from work, upset, he quietly sat in the courtyard and sang to himself. To keep himself at peace, I told myself then. Today, I subconsciously sing or hum a tune when I’m upset or low. It puts me at peace.
During my first day at a new school in a new city, as I nervously held my father’s hand and walked into a class full of strangers, he stepped forward, struck a chirpy conversation with my classmates-to-be, cracked a few jokes, and left. He broke the ice for me. Today, I thank him for teaching me to be laid back.
When I reluctantly began my music classes, my parents insisted that I practice music every morning. An adamant child that I was, I sang carelessly, out of tune. And, my father sat in front of me, eyes closed, nodding in appreciation. Eyes welling with tears, I practiced all songs to perfection. Today, I owe that discipline and love for music, to him.
As I grew older, when life lead me at crossroads, be it in my academics, career or life altering decisions, while my family took decisions about what would be right for me, my father said, “You choose what you want to do with your life and you face the consequences of it. I promise you, I will stand by you through every mistake and every difficulty.” Today, I thank him for giving me a chance to build life of my own. I have no regrets.
Today, I’ve come to an age where society demands that marriage be on the cards. In fact, most of our Sunday walks comprise deep conversations about life and destiny. But, once in a while, he keeps asking me a question, “What kind of a person are you looking for?” And I wish I could tell him, someone like you. Because you were the first man I fell in love with, and it’s another such man I would want to spend the rest of my life with.