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.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY. DO SHARE A MEMORY ABOUT YOUR FATHER WITH US.