Being A Daughter

 At a certain point in your life, your parents become your children. They need a lot of care and understanding. They require very patient handling. They are prone to irrational outbursts of temper, resort to emotional blackmail,throw tantrums! Yes, I am talking about that time when our parents become old.

 I am in that boat today.I am sure many of you would be too,right ? If not, you will be one day. Let me tell you all about it 🙂

My Dad is here with me in New Delhi for sometime. He has come for a complete health check up. The medical facilities in New Delhi are excellent as compared to that in my homestate. Of course, I have also got him here because he is a great bully! Years of ordering people around ( he is an officer of the Indian Police Service) has made it very difficult for him to listen to anyone 🙂 My elder sister, who is a doctor, and he are normally at loggerheads about his diet. The man loves his Scotch and all the  food,  that are are a complete no-no at his age ( red meat, sweets, butter, cheese,fried chicken etc ). The spice levels in his preferred dishes is alarming! He is not really into exercise. Walks with his friends and cronies turn into gossip sessions on the embankment of the river Mahanadi, liberally doused with ‘cutting’ chai and ‘samosa’ from the  nearby flourishing vendor ( the chap has got rich just because of this senior citizen gang!). My sister vainly tried to reform him. To her remonstrations, his standard reply was ” Live Life Kingsize”, followed by an all-knowing, infuriating chuckle. Thus , he has been packed off to Delhi by my sister to ‘set him right’ 🙂 Her words : ‘ Beware! He is going to drive you nuts!”.

Which he has! His reports aren’t good. When I confronted him with it, he blithely told me that ‘Reports are wrong.  Get a re-test’. I gnashed my teeth and screamed at him. He annoyingly disappeared behind the newspaper! I asked the cook to make a simple, non-oily, balanced lunch of chapati, dal, subzi, steamed fish, curd and salad. He happily ordered ‘Butter Naan’ & ‘Mutton Roganjosh’ from the rather fabulous take away near my house!Oh yes, he topped it off with ‘moong dal halwa’ and merrily chomped on a ‘Zarda Paan’! When I snarled at him on the phone, he boomed ‘ Oh, I have lived my life now. Few years more I have. Do you think I want to be Baba Ramdev?’

I sat and fumed. I was very worried about his sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It needs immediate remedial measures. I didn’t know how to tackle this new situation in my life!  And that is when I realized that my Dad is like a  child now! Somewhat like what I was years back! Not listening to his good advice, rebelling, being sneaky, mouthing smart- ass comments!

My strategy changed yesterday. I took him out for a  long, leisurely, fabulous lunch. Conversation centered around how hectic  my life in Delhi is,  my long office hours, my inability to eat healthy, irregular exercise, late nights etc. I told Dad that all my friend suffered from the same lifestyle problems too. He listened with  growing concern. The parent and bully in him kickstarted as he thundered ‘ I am here now! I shall see that you lead a healthy life style! Proper diet and all. Yes, you are looking a bit peaky! That’s not like my beautiful daughter!”. He hrrumphed and snorted in righteous anger, he brandished his fork and knife maniacally, his eyes glittered with determination. I managed to look guilty, crestfallen and rebellious. The same expression I probably had when I was a teenager :).  Which perhaps reminded him nastily of my by gone wild days 🙂 Which acted like the proverbial red rag 🙂

This morning we were up for a brisk  one hour walk by 5 am. We ate a healthy breakfast of oats and papaya. Our lunch is steamed vegetables and yoghurt. Dinner will be soup and salad.Oh yes, my Dad is outrageously handsome! And since his sun sign is Leo, he is inordinately vain about his looks and loves flattery too 😀 While we were walking this morning, a good-looking guy jogged  past us with a ‘Hi’ to me. My Dad frowned at my smiling response. I hurriedly told him ‘Dad, the chap must be at least 25 years younger to you, non ? Can’t hold a candle to you!’. His beam was enough to light up my entire day 🙂

 My Dad brought me up like this :

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.” ( William Martin, ‘The Parents Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice For Modern Parents)

Its now my turn to make the ordinary come alive for him 🙂

PS: I have to put up with a few supremely annoying things though:

      1. No Led Zeppelin on my deck. In case, I switch on music, its at embarrassingly low decibels!

      2. Late night partying has stopped. Friends of mine were pretty stoned from his lecture on the ‘Vedas’ & the ‘Shastras’.    They  have gone into re-hab voluntarily.

       3.  Overseas Skype conversations with the beloved in London have been reduced to saying goodnight to the poor guy sharp at 10pm, Indian time. Jeez and Arrgh.

       4. My new summer collection of ‘kurtas’ with ‘choli cut’ backs, halter necklines etc were so glared at  that, they had to be packed off. I also wear loose, granny jeans now. No screaming red lipstick, too. Only ‘sober’, decent’ ( my Dad’s favorite adjectives) colours. * Face palm*

        5. Nodding assent to his ‘Facebook is for criminals’.

 Roald Dahl ( Matilda) says “It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful”. That’s the  kind of love  we all have to give back to our parents, right ? 🙂

 The accidental sufi signs off with a favorite number of her Dad’s ( Robert Plant, where art thou ? * Deep sigh* 🙂 ).

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