His mother once told me that he was stubborn (still is!)
That he got that from her.
When he was born, the oldest of 8,
His mother decided that education would be his ticket out of their difficult circumstances.
So his parents educated him. Went hungry sometimes but made sure he ate, his fees were paid and that his education never suffered.
He paid them back by making sure they never went hungry again. He went on to become the most educated person in his family. Moved out of Kerala. Took care of every one of his seven siblings and made sure that each was well settled.Made sure his parents were taken care of. Every wish his parents had, he made sure he fulfilled. Unconditionally and without expecting anything ever in return. Despite all the difficulties he’s had to face.
When it came to me, he played different roles in my life.. at different ages.
He was my elephant between the ages of 0-4
He was the master storyteller of ONE story.-of the hen who made payasam. One that he still insists on telling. It was the most important story ever since it meant I wouldn’t sleep until I’d heard it.
He was the experiment who sat patiently while I applied several coats of powder on his face, put 7-8 ponytails in his hair and three bindis on his forehead.
He was the man on my who believed that I am destined for greatness but I am also too lazy for my own good.
He was the confused relation during my angst ridden teenage years. Because he didn’t get the rebel without a cause concept, and I expected unconditional acceptance. He was the angry man and the opposition in our legendary blow-ups since we never seemed to see eye to eye on anything during this period.
I don’t know when he made the transition from angry confused relation whom I didn’t relate to, to a friend.
He was the person I talked to when I first thought I was in love.
He was the friend who made me a cup of coffee when I was hungover the first time.
He was the friend who held me while I bawled when my heart got all broken.
He once told me that I was raised to think for myself so I should use my god given brains to take decisions. To own my life and my responsibilities. If my decisions screwed me over, at least I’d know they were mine.
He’s always had my back.
Even when he didn’t understand.
Even when he was hurt and I’d hurt him bad.
I don’t always understand him. We still argue. Fight.
But it is because of him that I am who I am. He filled the house with books when he didn’t even have a reading habit. He gave me the best education. Exposed me to things that a girl from a super conservative society in Kerala wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Told me that my grey matter and thoughts mattered and that anyone who thought otherwise shouldn’t be given any space in my life. Of course promptly regretted it when all i did was butt heads with him and his thought processes and question every damn thing. I’ve been told he was rather proud of me though thoroughly annoyed by it.
He’s been there. Always. Counselor. Friend. Man with high standards.
He’s been there. Taking care of everything and everybody. He still does. He never gives up.
I’ve inherited quite a bit from him- my love for cooking, for good food, and according to my mother- every single annoying habit he has.
He’s been through a lot. Hard times. Happy times. Been betrayed by people he thought were friends. Not been given his due. But through it all- his faith in people never seemed to take a beating. His love never changed. He doesn’t hold a grudge and tends to forgive pretty damn quick. It’s taken me ( I can hold a grudge and I take a terribly long time to forgive) a long time to realize how special that quality is. That, that kind of love was a strength and not a weakness. And that forgiving meant those people never really occupied mind space. That you could continue to see the nice side to people love them for that. He was nobody’s fool, but he chose to do things he thought was right. Always. His standards were high and he upheld that- irrespective of the behavior of others. Even people who may have disliked or disagreed with him, always respected him. His work defined quality-personal or professional.
He is a person who makes the ordinary- extraordinary- just by doing it so well.
He talks to my kids everyday. They tell him stories and stuff going on with them because he lets them know that every thought they have is important to him.
He is a Hero. One that most of the world won’t meet, see or hear of. He’s touched the life of so many people just by being the wonderful person he is.
Today he lost his brother in law. So it’s been a rough day. In the midst of death, grief and chaos-He turned 70 today. I thought it was important to celebrate life. One that has been lived beautifully so far. Happy birthday to the first man who held my heart. My dad. I am incredibly proud to be your daughter. Whenever I meet others and see how differently and awesomely I’ve been raised- I realize I have you and Amma to be so thankful to and for. And I am. Grateful Everyday.
Happy birthday, Achan!