6. He is that proverbial ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ man. He would do anything for his friends. It doesn’t matter which economical class they hail from, he is always there like a knight in shining armor when the need arises. Little wonder, that he has a close-knit of true, genuine and fun-loving pals from all age groups, ethnicity, social class and faith. And their bond only grows stronger and thicker with time. Nowadays it is a treat to hear from Mum that Dad is travelling to so and so place to attend his friend’s kids wedding. They have a pact amongst themselves that no matter where the location or circumstance in their life, they will always come in full attendance for each other and each other’s kids and grandkids’ weddings. Such a cute and endearing pact in today’s times of fast love. So yes, they came in full attendance for my wedding and my Dad shows up at his friend’s important milestones without fail as well. Post retirement, they have an active Watsapp group, email chains of forwards and jokes, regular phone calls and meets that keep the fun quotient and camaraderie alive while keeping them all emotionally healthy, happy and eternally ‘young at heart’. I have learnt from him how important friends are in your life no matter what age and stage of your life you are at. More importantly, I’ve learnt from him how to treat them respectfully and kindly without any ulterior motive or vested interests. It’s reassuring to know the fun never ever truly stops. Below is a very cool, vintage pic of me hanging out with some of Dad’s friends in Cochin…Hahaha!
9. The lungi dance was inspired by him. No kidding! Let the sun set, fill in his glass with a shot of whiskey or rum, play some music, and Voila! the lungi dance was born. In the Matheiken household, right here in our midst. We’ve been treated to many a ‘lungi dance’ night in the most colorful palette of lungis one can ever find in the market. And every show was a blockbuster hit, I tell you. Dad, You should rightfully copyright this dance. You totally own this. (PS: Talking about Dad’s fashion style if you are ever curious to know, its lungi/mundu (as he calls it) and ganji at home and jeans, baby with a cool pair of Ray Ban sunnies outside home)
10. He is a Master chef when he is dead drunk. I don’t know where the magic comes from, but Dad makes the most unbelievably, finger-licking good, non-vegeterian dishes when hes drunk and playing with food in the kitchen. If anyone has seen this youtube video of Vahchef cooking toddy chicken, that’s so my Dad.
11. Good things come in small and combustible packages. Think of the Diwali Atom bomb cracker! While Dad might be short in stature, he more than makes up for that with his bold and fearless persona. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to mess with him, because he very well knows how to put anyone in their rightful place. Sambhalke, beta!
12. He is Fair and Lovely. I had absolutely no clue what woman empowerment meant or even that women faced any discrimination at all in the first place. Because that was the kind of atmosphere he created in the home. Mom and Dad were equals in every sense. They make a wonderful team to this date and its a treat to watch them as couple in action – cooking together, both making a living outside and coming up with mature decisions right from the start. Mum continued studying till her M.Phil despite having me and my twin brothers right after. While I was sent away to a boarding for 2 years while my brothers were taken care of by a nanny, Mum continued to study and work simultaneously while Dad and I were in Kerala. And no matter what, Dad stood by my Mum in whatever career aspirations she had for herself. He has and is always been proud of Mum and her personal accomplishments when it came to her career. As his daughter, I can vouch for a fact that there was absolutely no discrimination of any sorts between my brothers and me in any manner. In fact, I was and still am the apple of his eyes. Sorry, boys! You’ll came into this world a bit too late for that. You’ll can share and fight over Mum. Hahaha! I lived a childhood as carefree as my brothers, never ever having to step into the kitchen or do any chore owing to my gender. It was only once I stepped into the big, bad world outside, that reality struck and I could see a stark difference in the way my female peers were brought up. I am so grateful for having the parents I have, especially in a country, where things can definitely improve for the better in this particular aspect as well.
He bought me my own 2 wheeler vehicle much to my Mum’s fears. And, I had the best days of my life, feeling so independent and free, whizzing around the streets of Hyderabad on my very own Scooty. I literally felt like Super Woman maneuvering through those chaotic roads and especially zipping adeptly in and out through those ugly-looking, filthy, endlessly long RTC buses. His heart swelled with pride when he saw me dancing to Zeenat Aman’s iconic ‘Dum Maro Dum’ song on stage, huffing and puffing on an imaginary cigar. Zeenat Aman has always been Dad’s hot favorite by the way. He was the brain behind all those prize-winning elocution and essay-writing competitions I pretty much won easily. All thanks to him and Mom, of course. And I could just go on and on about tales like these….
14. He is a ‘self-made’ individual. While his own Father or my paternal grandfather died when Dad was a 6 month baby, his Mum passed away pretty early on as well. So, Dad’s early life circumstances were neither the most ideal nor the easiest by any standards. But he rose and triumphed above it all and it didn’t come in the way of him being the excellent and patient parent that he is. As children, we would never have guessed unless told so….that Dad was never blessed being raised in a traditional family or having a normal childhood, both of which we take for granted. Because he, so efficiently ensured we had one in every possible way.
15. And what can I say about the bond fathers and daughters share! As far and long as I can remember, those days of pining and yearning to see my dad during my days in the boarding school is still afresh in my memory. He came much like a colorful rainbow at the end of a spell of rain. Once or twice a month, he would make it a point to drop all his work and travel all the way to meet me. I would wait endlessly for weeks for his arrival. And every time, the attendant would come in to announce his arrival, my heart would skip many a beat while I ran down the stairs to meet him. And Yes! I felt truly special. He truly did make me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. Even when we were much older and Dad had a transferable job while we stayed put in one place with Mum and close to the maternal family,I would wait endlessly for Dad to visit and stay with us. Those pangs of love and separation were and are just as real. I also take great pride in declaring that I am one of the very few who can make my Dad cry like a baby. Whenever I traveled alone in the train to my hostel, my Dad would break down into tears at the station whenever the train started to move. The night before my wedding, he held my hand and just broke down into tears uncontrollably. I knew it was tough for him to let go of his little girl while I also knew he was happy as well. Even the last time I visited India in 2012, the day before we left, he just broke down. Love makes anyone, even the mentally tough ones, extremely vulnerable. Rightly said, the father is a daughter’s first true love.
16. A father is the alpha point when it comes to learning about love. It is through him, the daughter envisions her lifetime soul-mate and the son learns all the fine nuances of spearheading and managing family relationships and its roles and responsibilities. Like any daughter I guess, when I’d see Mum and Dad blissfully happy and contended in each other’s company, I’d make a silent wish for a husband just like my Dad. As a side-note, It is sort of sad and disappointing that in today’s age and time, traditional marriage is not considered important or relevant anymore. If only, this generation would know the joys that marriage entails with its sacrifices…..