A father's love

He wore his capacity for disobedience as a prized medallion.

In spite of the historical truth that all human societies have always been ruled by men, father’s day is celebrated a few weeks after mother’s day. Lichtenstein, tongue in cheek, uses an aphorism to explain the special dominance.

“An astronomer knows whether the moon is inhabited or not with about as much certainty as he knows who was his father; but not with so much certainty as he knows who was his mother.”

Talking of fathers, an exasperated Kasturba once chided Gandhi, the ‘Father of the Nation,’ “you want your sons to be saints even before they have become men ?” Perhaps Gandhi wanted to take over their upbringing, a style that he may have considered as being too loving and unconditional.

This reflects Germaine Greer's view  “...though women make boys out of babies, it is men who make men out of boys.” Does it mean that children simply absorb whatever is imparted to them? ‘No,’ says Steven Pinker in his award winning book ‘The Blank Slate.’ “Children are little people, born with personalities. People react to the personalities of other people, even if one is a parent and the other a child.”

As a tribute, let me share an instance of how one child transformed his father’s character. The protagonist here is an engineer who headed a giant communication organisation with the baton of a genius.

While Chandrasekhar Kambara’s ‘Shikarasurya’ would match his countenance, only destiny could have created his acute intelligence, musical talents, academic achievements, blunt repartees and rash courage. He wore his capacity for disobedience as a prized medallion. Fatherhood brought about an element of tenderness in him,surprising everybody in his circle.

 This biological tie transcended expectation, reciprocity and the narcissistic element present in motherly love. He took great joy in his son’s presence and progress, who by the age of five had a Limca record for certain accomplishments.

Then tragedy struck. The child was accidentally mowed down by a reversing school van on the campus, as the mother stood meters away chatting with an acquaintance.

This devastating event brought about irreconcilable differences between the couple prompting him to relocate to his mother’s home. Mother care and farming had seemingly kept him occupied. Yet close friends knew better; they saw him sliding down an abyss. This father, just fifty, died pining away for his little boy. He succumbed to the most bewildering emotion of all – love for his son.

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