Happy Birthday, Dearest Dad!

Nw21

One of the greatest influences and blessings in a child’s life comes in the form of a father. And I am no exception.

From the time, he held my hand to take my first steps to walking me down the aisle to my beloved and every moment in between, much memories have been made to last a lifetime.
So, let me go all out of my way to sing my father’s praises. It’s after all his birthday today and this is my love song, my birthday tune to him. I could go on and on about a bazillion reasons to love him. Here are a couple few …
1. Firstly, he truly is the funniest even when he doesn’t intentionally try to be so. And that makes him super duper adorable. Like when he talks to the localites in any place, it’ll be a completely new dialect with stray strains from Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Lucknowi Hindi-Urdu and his own made up gibberish in between. Trust me, it is a sight to behold, to watch this wholly mystical conversation, live in action.
2. Secondly, he truly is the funniest when he does it intentionally as well. He’s at the top of his game with his wit. Quick wit is his ace card. His responses and wise cracks are so sharp and spontaneous . But what makes them truly legendary (and in some cases, embarrassing) is that there is absolutely no filter. It is as raw, real and honest as it can get. And believe me, when I say this, he could give any stand up comedian a run for their money with his wise-cracks.  Some of his jokes have a quintessential ‘WTF was that’ nuked with ‘way ahead of it’s time’ quality to it. Much so much so, that at times, it takes years for his jokes to finally dawn sense upon people. It’s just that good, farsighted and unbelievably premonitory. Like for real. I take a humble bow. He is the God of jokes in our family and that’s why there is never ever a dull moment around him. He’s also taught me to never take life or yourself too seriously…have a couple of laughs, both in the good and bad times, and tide along joyfully.
3. You don’t have to be funny to be intelligent. But you definitely have to be intelligent to be funny. I just wrote about Dad’s humor, let me talk about his intellect. Dad is that fine balance of intelligence coupled with street smart wisdom. Much has to do with his  experiences that life taught him the hard way and also to do with his constant love for learning and reading something new each day. He is a mathematical whiz. Soccer and Chess are his first loves much to my Mom’s disgust. Books and pens are his best friend. Politics, movies and music are his interests. He loves to read and write and yap. Generally, express himself with gay abandon, Some of my best advises in life have come from him at the most timely intervals in my life. One of my favorite advises (and there are many) from him is – ‘You don’t owe an explanation or prove anything to anybody except God’. I keep that in mind wherever I am and these words reminds me of my actions and their accountability to God Almighty.
4. Coming to God, he is a man of immense faith. The interesting story is that Dad comes from a family of Catholic priests, nuns and doctors. And he was to go down the priest/brotherhood route until God had greater plans for him. Like me, you know! But given his strong theological background and unshakable Christian faith in word and deed, he’s always been a tremendous source of Christian faith and inspiration. From what books to read, to having the Bible completely demystified for us, there is so much he has to offer and share on that topic. We have the expert in the house. His current recommendation for the Lent season is the book ‘The Jesus I never knew’ by Yancey Philips. And its lying in my inbox since yesterday and I’ve promised to chew on that till Easter. It is also this same faith that gives him this monk like philosophical outlook towards life. That everything will fall into place at the right time and for the right reasons and with the right persons. Despite his little fears and rationale outlook, he is an eternal optimist looking largely at the sunny side of life. His eternal advise is ‘Keep Praying’.
5. He is an excellent judge of character. He can size up pretty much anybody and their intentions in the very first meeting. Little wonder, he chose Mum to be his wife. He is extremely shrewd and instantly sees people in all their nakedness while we take a couple of meetings or even probably years to figure out the person behind the mask and what they truly are about. I guess, some people are just blessed with stronger sixth sense and wisdom than the rest. But yes, from him, I’ve learnt not to judge a book by it’s cover. And to be patient with people’s faults coz’ we all have our own personal skeletons to deal with.
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!

 

7. He is eternally on an ‘I am 65 going on 16’ mode. At heart and in the mind. Highly energetic and social, incredibly curious and always learning something new each day even post retirement. And just as mischievous as a 16 year old. I have two handsome non-identical twin brothers. And the following incident happened a couple of years ago when my brothers were literally in the ‘The Wonder Years’. One of them (I won’t disclose which of them…haha) had a couple of girls in his group of college friends. And they’d keep calling home to speak to him. And in times when my brother wasn’t home, my Dad would step in and do the honors. He’d play the part of my brother with such finesse and perfection, that the phone conversations would go endlessly for hours with a couple of sheepish grins and chuckles along the way. And what I hear from the elders, is that he was the Dennis, the menace of their times. Such was his naughtiness, that the elders would have to tie him literally to a tree to stop him from further trouble, Mischief and humor runs in his veins.
8. But not everything is sunny about him.  He has his moods and moments of instant irritations,quick temper and gloominess. Like any of us, And even then, he makes an adorable sight. In fact, his grumpy face is just as endearing and funny to watch as his usually sunny self. Sometimes, I purposely tick him off to watch him flare and then pout. Think Donald Duck! Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

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.

13. He is my very first ‘partner-in-crime’. My father introduced me to all the vices in my life. He encouraged me to take that first sip of wine, gin, and rum and vodka etc. And when I did, he smiled in mischievous delight. I was never the kind of girl who was allured by dolls and soft toys. I loved reading books and he pampered me with the best of them. He bought me my very first itsy bitsy teeny weeny red and white striped bikini at the age of 3.

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…..

Well, well, well! I’ve spilled a couple of beans too many. But trust me, there are many more layers to peel. And I’ll leave the rest a mystery and for you to discover yourself when you meet the Man in person. Perhaps for another time….more tales to spin!
Dada, Here’s wishing you a very, very Happy Birthday and May you continue to inspire us with your positivity, passion, creativity and zest for life. On behalf of Mom, Pratap and Pramod, thank you for making our lives so wonderful and our childhood most memorable. Cheers to your good health and happiness always!
(PS: My birthday gift arrives when we meet in a couple of months from now. Extra hugs and kisses if you make the right guess. And watch this space for more…there is another point and whacky retro pic to add. Since I’m currently seven seas away from home, I don’t have access to that pic. But, it will be added once I lay my hands on it..Hee,Haw,Haw,Haw)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s