It is exactly a year ago that I was forced to take a decision, that I would not wish upon a child irrespective of whether an adult or not.
This decision taken and communicated first to family and close friends & subsequent to the doctors at 8.55 pm left me with ambivalent feelings, that have lasted long and shall continue to do so.
Did I feel bereft, sad when I lost my Dad last year. Yes, sure I did, but more than that was the feeling of default anger and some sort of competition that always marked my relationship with him for years.
My dad was never a great communicator, but principled having led a hard life before he graduated, had dreams, worked for them, saw them crashing and never recovered. The fear was so great that he in fact turned further inward and never took a risk without over evaluation and this constant fear percolated down.
Coming from a family of Doctors, Engineers and the odd lawyer thrown in, it was expected that I would choose to be one of them. I could see the question in his eyes when I asked to sign my form in school for the ‘commerce’ stream. The same question were finally asked when I did not want to do my CA; but by then I earned and contributed by his rules so there was nothing much to be discussed.
And I think the anger began then – as the eldest there were too many expectations that bound me to duty, where dharma, karma aur kaam interfered and Life took a back seat. So a commerce student took the less travelled path of ‘marketing services’ as major; wannabe chef took a drop and worked in a hotel to make money so on and forth, at all time always anger driving to prove a point that I would better every milestone by my father and his father.
Destiny helped, obstructed at every milestone that I broke; always waiting, aching for that one pat which would have signalled his pride and fostered my sense of achievement further. During these three decades, it had always been a fight to get him to accept and take a decision. Was it my youthful arrogance or the need to be different, that led to me leading a different life.
Others told me that he was proud of my ‘self made’ status; possible but difficult for me to believe/accept from an introvert who would be a loner in group. Skirmishes were constant, with his refrain that I need to save and my asking him, when would I live?
As age caught up, there used to be the family discussions with me constantly insisting that you need to be clear about yourself; so much so that when he went to the first time to the hospital, I requested that some documentation and instructions were essential.
Uniquely thanks to a professional betrayal, I was free and spent time with him at the hospital, reiterating my request but a man who was meticulous about everything in life continued to side step the topic, leaving the decision to me.
It has been a year, there are memories, everybody is moving on. As time goes past, the anger shall probably subside, but the ache shall remain.
And, hopefully, my learnings & practice shall ensure my child will not need to be forced to take a similar decision.