“How long have you been travelling?” someone once asked me. And I was like, “I don’t know.” Well, I wasn’t sulking, but I seriously had never done the math. The only faint memories I have of my early travel days is that of a toddler not letting go of the pinky of the only man I knew I could trust then – my beloved father. His theory was straight – “you get good grades, I take you on a vacay!” And so we, my younger sister and I (and later on the youngest of us all, my brother), worked excessively to get not just good grades but excel the sheets. Hence our first lesson in life – you have to earn your vacay! Now the perk of having a home in the mountains is you get a good 3-month-long winter break! And every year, we made sure we earned “the vacay” as he would call it.
When I say vacay, it was not always pompous and grand. We would travel in railway coaches most of the time, were made to talk to total strangers, and were taught to carry our own tiny bag packs at the least and the importance of privacy at a very young age. You must be wondering what kind of father is this who jeopardizes the life of his own kids! Well, trust me, we have the best dad in the world. Of course, he would let us out in the open, but if he sensed any odd event, he would be right there, holding our back, a protective dad that he is. I have travelled with him (of course when I was much younger) a lot, and I have learnt the most crucial lessons of life. But there were times when he spoilt us with our fav candies and some luxury just so he could set the standard that every father would want his little girl to maintain.
Most of us are taught that we, as children, shouldn’t interrupt the conversation of two or more elders, but my father would always, and still does, encourage us to voice our opinions no matter how silly they sound. A cop by profession and a strict disciplinarian, he sowed the seed of mutual respect in us early on. Sometimes, we would complain and nag and would look for our mother’s shade to cover us (mom is our ultimate rescue you know), but his ways never changed; I’m glad it did not. For I know now, what he did was the best he could do and the best he has done for us.
I remember visiting holy shrines at times where we had to remove our shoes before we got in, and there was still my father, making us stand on his feet so we could get off the cold marble floor. So much for having an annoying and adamant kid like me! As years passed by, we grew up, and suddenly, the vacations stopped as we were busy in our own lives. And here I am, alone, with no father figure beside me in my journey (those phone and video calls aren’t just enough you know). While I still travel far and wide, with friends and sometimes alone, I miss him and his strange ways, and I miss our journeys in the past. “You’re beautiful like your mom” is what my sister gets often, and all I get is how I’m a replica of my dad! It’s then that I realize it’s so much more to be handsome, and not beautiful, like my dad – inside and out!
Happy Father’s Day!