Wednesday 26 June 2013

Go Green!

I know I have not blogged. At all. For many moons. I appologise. To all those who once used to visit this space. A trial at a comeback with something green. Only visuals this time. The words? Hopefully they will also come. When the time is right.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Father Saluted: He Raised His Daughter With Courage And Integrity

Soldier For Women.
He Stood Up For A Woman With Courage And Integrity

Blogadda is running a cool campaign. They are asking bloggers to blog about those men who stood up for women.

Time to salute and honour these men.

Yes the men. Yes they do support/stand up/fight for women. There are millions out there. Thankfully.

And for those who claim that women do not need any help or support, I would say that I am a proud woman who is not afraid to show her vulnerability. Of course I have needed/still need help/support now and then. The need was/is not gendered, but in my case it was provided by men, sometimes.

So the subject is pretty close to my heart. But it needs, as far as I am concerned, a little twist in the tail err the title.

Father Saluted.
He Raised His Daughter With Courage And Integrity.

If I have to talk about a man who stood up for me it has to be my father

My father. A midnight's child, born in August 1947. He grew up in the nascent republic of India. People were loving their hard earned freedom. They wanted to build a fresh, new country on the foundation of one of the oldest civilizations of this world. This new India needed educated professionals, my father fulfilled this need. His family needed his presence and support, my father was/is the dutiful son/brother/husband/father/father-in-law.

When I, his first child, his daughter was born, he welcomed me to this world eagerly. 

Was I born in a country where a girl child is unwanted? No, not in my case. I was cherished and nourished. I was lavished with love, I was spoiled, I was pampered and I was scolded and disciplined, when the occasion demanded.

Most importantly I was raised as a modern Indian, without any discrimination. I got the same opportunities as my brother, sometimes more so. My parents and my extended family were/are responsible for this. Yes it needs the effort of an entire society to create a just and loving environment for any child to grow up in. I never thought of it as my incredible luck. I always took it for granted.

I grew up with my head held high, I got the best of education. My father did not stop there. He would continuously push me to be more practical, to be able to take decisions, to form my independent opinions. What he did then, now is called Life Skills Training.

While writing this,  images of me and my father pottering about flood my mind. In school as part of arts & craft training, we were taught various things like collage making, mask making, paper pulp (ugggh it sure is a stinky process) and painting on earthen flower vases. I took to pottery painting like a duck to water. I just loved it and pretty soon I was painting on vases, ash trays, flower pots, little decorative pieces etc. Soon friends and family started buying these pieces from me. In this my father was my champion cheer leader, motivator and of course chief investor in my teenage business venture. He would 'loan' me money to buy the raw material, but when I went to repay him the money after selling off the pieces, he would ask me to keep the principal along with the profit!

Apart from these, my father had/has a weird kind of faith in me. He thinks I can fix almost anything or suggest a solution ranging from a broken leg of a chair to his sitting problem in his office. I am not sure what was/is the source of this faith, but I remember grumbling to my mother in my teenage that I am not Jill of all trades and my mother laughing about it. Now I am filled with humble pride. Yes humble pride, you need to experience this weirdly harmonious emotion to know it exists.

Those were the days before D.I.Y., specially in India where there was a surplus of cheap labour floating around, needing work. Yet I remember working with my father painting and varnishing the cane and wooden furniture in our house, fixing odd things in and around home. He is a great proponent of do-it-yourself. I also helped him change the odd light bulb, I remember him explaining to me why a tube light needs a choker.

While growing up he dragged me with him, sometimes it used to fill me with teenage angst, but mostly I enjoyed doing stuff with him. Apart from the hands-on work, I remember sitting in  car garages, while the mechanics worked on the car, visiting carpenter's workshop, mulling over how to reuse an old cumbersome almirah, pouring over paint samples, selecting material for the curtains (they were all tailor made)...the list is pretty endless.

My father gave me my first pocket money at the age of 12. It was Rs. 40 for a week and I was told that I had to manage my own money, keep it safe and spend it sensibly. I remember how proud I was and how jealous most of my classmates were.

The next year was also big year for me. It was the year when I was asked to go to school alone. School was 20 minutes walk from home and along the way I had to cross two majorly busy roads. I remember my mother being worried. But my father insisted that I should learn to navigate  the streets on my own.

Learning bank operations on my own, followed hard on heels, along with going to pay the odd electricity/telephone bills, filing a complaint... By the time I turned 14, I was not only responsible for going and returning from school on my own. I had to make a detour, go to the junior school, pick up my younger brother and bring him home too. Most of the kids my age had their mothers coming to pick them up and there I was, the big sister, being responsible for my younger brother.

I was never ever sent somewhere with my younger brother as my guardian/companion. A common occurrence in India. Or was when I was growing up. A practice which I find really humiliating. Every-time parents send a younger sibling, especially male out with the elder sibling, especially a female, the girl's confidence takes a beating. She is told she is not capable of being in-charge, but someone who is younger to her, but a male, is. He can look after her and bring her back home safe.

But I am diverting. Lets get back to my story.

Of course I was not totally happy with all the extra work and responsibility that was heaped on me. There were fights at home, arguments and screams. But when we both had cooled down, my father would explain to me that rights/privileges like being independent, having my own pocket money had some counter responsibilities/duties like going to the bank or bringing my brother home from school.

In hindsight I realize he was helping me become my own person and teaching me  to be independent and to take decisions.

This is just a small slice of my pre and early teens. To this day my father continues to be my rock, his faith in me is my strength. At the age of 28, I won a very prestigious scholarship to a foreign university. I was 28 and single, meanwhile a somondho/rishta came for me. My father did not even bother to consult me. He said "my daughter has own something which most people dream about. I will not stop her. I am sure she will get married at the right time, to the right person." He is the father I had the confidence  to call one fine day and declare that I have met a guy whom I want to marry. My father calmly replied back "I trust your judgement, if you have chosen someone, I am sure he is worthy of sharing your life". 

So is my father the soldier Blogadda's campaign is searching for?

Of course he is. He is one of two chief architects (the other being my mother) of my life. His ideas, principles, his beliefs he passed onto me. With his efforts he molded me to be who I am today. He could have taken the easy route and raised me traditionally. It could have been simple, certainly cheaper and much less trouble. But he did not.

He stood up and poured in all his time, energy and resources to bring me up to be an independent and modern Indian woman who knows who she is and is mighty proud of it.

I salute him.

Thank you Baba!

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with