M.R. Subramani
M.R. Subramani

News Editor-cum-Commodities Editor who thinks there is always a lighter side to everything, from business to politics

M R Subramani

Father, my father

M.R. Subramani | Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on June 27, 2013

Often in life, we tend to underestimate people. But when we look at things in proper perspective we realise that people are far better than what we thought of them!

This is not a piece that is an emotional outpour. Nor is this a tribute to anyone.

This is to remind ourselves that people are far better than what we actually think or imagine. If each one of us can look back at the path traversed or dig ourselves a little deeper, we will realise.

And I realise this very much after the passing away of my father. I am sure that each one of us will find this truth not just in our parents but all those who have been with us, are with us, parted ways from us, separated from us and left us, forever.

I may not have been as emotional as I was when my mother passed away, but as his passing away sinks in with every passing hour, it makes me realise his value, valour and what not. (It is an altogether different matter that a mother means everything especially for a man.) Before the anger in youth hood got the better of my senses, my father was a hero for me. I could have been either seven or eight years old when I woke up to noises in the neighbourhood at midnight.

As I woke up, I found the entire neighbourhood gathered on the road with man who looked dark sitting in the middle with his hands tied to his back. Standing next to him was my dad and another neighbour. It was a thief who was caught from the next house with my dad and the neighbour taking the lead in thrashing him. In fact, they slapped him so hard that his mouth was torn. It was an event that I could boast of for years with friends.

The other occasion to see his courage was when a local bully caught my neck and hurt me. As I returned home in tears, my parents got to know what happened. The next minute my dad rushed to the place where the bully was and lifted him by neck and swung him asking: “Why did you catch my son by his neck?” That the person he was dealing with was a bully and weighed over six stones never crossed his mind.

Maybe, his Navy background helped. Maybe, he had a strong forearm that he developed playing volleyball. More than that, he was bold enough to take on anyone if he knew he was right. Another occasion that reminds me of his courage was when he entered a pawn broker’s shop to physically lift the owner by his collar for slapping me. I was slapped because I, a boy hardly 10 years of age, was winking! No doubt, my dad was like other males who had a super ego but I was a beneficiary of those few occasions when he tended to listen to my mother’s reasoning.

He put me in a school where my mother wanted me to go. And he was a good cook too!

Until he lost interest, there was never a Diwali without those delicious jangree or jilabis that he made. He was an expert in also making coconut milk kheer. I can recall many instances of my relatives asking him to make the kheer for special occasions. There have been times when he cooked food for us and even made my mother admit that he was a better cook than her. His only drawback was that he needed an assistant.

Sometimes, he could leave people wondering with his tactics but they had their own reasons. On one occasion, I fell into a well but managed to cling on to the rope and shout for help. A couple of people managed to pull me out. Even as I kept crying, my father returned from work. The first thing he did on getting to know what happened was to whack me on my thigh. When a neighbour asked him why he was beating me, he said “that will make him forget the incident of having fallen in the well.”

My father also taught us in helping others, especially when someone died at their home. Usually, people even in our own homes tend to fear or keep away from the body of a dead relative. As a result, the body may not be properly covered or placed.

There have been occasions when he would call us, his children, and set things right, either tying the big toes or the wrists or tightening the jaws or placing it with the head facing South. There is this one incident that I can be proud of still, again when I was in school. The neighbour next door was crushed to pieces by the Tirupati-Chennai Balaji Express as he tried to cross the track to catch a train on the other track. The next day even as his relatives and friends, besides Railway porters, hesitated to pick up the pieces of the body, he just stepped in front and began putting them in the box that was meant to carry the remnants.

As a father, he was particular about the company I kept and on one occasion bragged to my mother: “Do you know your son has picked up good friends?” This was when he saw a few from my neighbourhood invited me to play soccer with them when I was hardly eight.

Time can change people, including our kith and kin. But their deeds that sometimes are the guiding lights of our life can never vanish. They will live with us, forever!

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Published on June 27, 2013
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