Sunday, June 15, 2008


When we were children, my mother provided the steadfast, solid, supporting fabric of our daily lives; while my father’s role was more of an embroiderer of fanciful and fantastic tapestry on this fabric. She taught us how to face the facts of life; he would tell us stories of whimsy, whisking us away from the cares of life.

There was a very big house near our childhood home: a huge mansion surrounded by large grounds full of tall trees and a pall of darkness and gloom (I never saw any lighted windows). There was a high wall encircling the house, cutting off a clear view but whetting our curiosity. Whenever we would pass by, especially if night was approaching, my father would tell us fantastic stories about the house actually being Count Dracula’s castle. I would shiver delightedly and listen, awestruck and wide-eyed, to baba’s (father’s) supple and succulent re-telling of the legend, longing-but-not-daring-to look at the looming, surely-haunted house out of the corner of my eye, my small hand seeking re-assurance in his. I would be scared-thrilled, and would demand a repeat-narration every time we crossed the house, especially after dark. And my father obligingly provided the goose-bumps, vivifying my imagination till it was on auto-pilot and could re-create the thrills for myself.

Another time, he took my brother and me on a Sunday picnic. Ma packed us off with sandwiches and boiled eggs, and we wandered around the picturesque banks of the Hooghly river on a summer’s day as bright as unshed tears. After a walk on the river bank, we strolled along the Riverside Road and, following my father’s restless, adventuresome fancy, discovered the cave of Phantom (the Ghost who Walks) in the middle of some unkempt bushes at a corner of an empty field. My father convinced us that THIS WAS PHANTOM’S INDIAN HIDE-OUT, and we ate our staid picnic lunch garnished with the spice of this thrilling discovery.

Baba was like that. He would pluck an off-beat leaf from the mundane book of life and fan the flames of our fancy. Thank you, baba, for igniting my imagination.



Aleta said...

For girls, there aren't too many groups for Father/Daughter gatherings, but there was the Y-Indian Princesses. It was akin to the Y-Indian group for young boys, but this was only for Fathers and Daughters. We had to complete different things in order for me to get patches on my jacket.

One was when my father etched in my "Indian" name that he gave me "Spring Flower." He etched it into a piece of brown leather with a wood burning tool. I strung little wooden beads and we made it into a necklace.

The other memory from Y-Indian Princesses was when my father and I had to make a race car out of raw materials. We attended a conference for the Y-Indians and my car won first place. Dad was there the entire time cheering me on!

I still have the necklace and the car (which was mounted on a trophy stand).

Niladri said...

My father has always been the more indulgent parent...but he is by his own admission, one of the worst story-tellers in the world! Everytime my mom packed me off to him for a story, he would tell me the SAME OLD three-brothers- named-'go'-'lo'-'po' story and after some time, wild horses could'nt make me go to him for a story!!...but he was a good singer and he would sing for me at night and i still relate to the old Kishore Kumar song 'tera mujhse hai pehle ka nata koi'as our 'special' song.
About spinning tales, my mother was and still is the master (or mistress!) in the family....she still entertains my daughter with fantastic and funny stories of all kinds...the one story etched in my memory is that of the Royal Bengal Tiger from Alipore Zoo who was so taken in by me that he escaped from the zoo to marry me(!!)..and how he was asked by my grandparents to have a proper shower with Lux soap and Sunsilk shampoo and dress up as a groom and how i was rescued at the last moment by my ultimate superhero, my Dad of course!!...and the way she mimicked the was absolutely hilarious!!...I still tell her to tell that story to my daughter sometimes...of course, now she is the heroine! How wide-eyed and believing we used to be then, na?!
Talking of tale-spinners, my mamar barir folks take the cake. Two of my mamas once convinced me that one was Bruce Lee and the other was Mohammed Ali....I was shocked, thrilled, excited, proud and what not!!...i even went back after my vacation and boasted around to my friends and the boys who were mean to me to better watch it because i was the niece of so-and-so!! Then another mama told me he was on a secret mission with Rakesh Sharma when he went to the moon and thats why his name was not published....and i just sat wide-eyed and gaped and ate all the stories they fed me!! wonder they nicknamed me 'idli'...not only for living down South and speaking like one, but also for being thick- both in brain and body!!
But those were good times...i always look back at them with a lot of fondness. And today if i suddenly call my Dad and wish him for Father's Day, I'm sure he'll jump out of his skin....we share such a silent understanding and rapport that i really dont feel the need to actually wish him on a particular day....all i can say is that he is my hero and he is the one whom i can go to first after doing something wrong and he is the one who calls me and sends cards without fail on every single occasion and still indulges me like a child during the pujas and still makes me feel like a little girl sometimes and always encourages me to do and be something in life and a pillar of strength and i love him with all my heart....

Lazyani said...

My father is the pillar round which I grew up. Till today ( he is 75 now)I believe that he is invincible and omnipotent. He nurtured my sporsmanship spirit and made me stoic in face of adversity.

Nothing new I guess. But couldn't resist sharing it with you. Great post madam-- with the right amount of 'shurshuri'( I need not translate) to my mind and memories.

lopamudra said...

When I was four my 'bapi' would take me with him to get fresh milk from the milkman.It was quite a long walk, I remember the 'Kanchenjungha' (we could get a glimpse from the town of siliguri)would be pinkish golden from the rising morning sun.On our way back we visited bapi's old bachelor buddies.I still remember the 'kaku' playing the 'raag bhairavi' (he told me!)on his sitar every morning.It was the same routine everyday & yet I was always excited and looked forward to that walk.This is the favorite memory of my father.He is a great storyteller.He has amazing stories of his childhood days in bangladesh.I still listen to them and so does my elder daughter.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks everybody for sharing those wonderful paternal memories about that special man in our lives - our father.