Tribute to my father

Tribute to my father

Representative image: iStock Photo

It’s hard to define what a successful life is as each of us has different parameters.  Time pauses for no one--people come and people go, but few remain etched in public memory. My father Dr S N Visvanath, a geoscientist was one such person. That he was very intelligent, humorous, erudite and compassionate was well known among his peers, friends and relatives. But to be remembered even 33 years after retirement from Oil India Limited was remarkable. Last year, a series of memorial lectures were flagged off as a tribute to him. 

When my flight landed in Dibrugarh it brought back so many memories-- of a little girl returning for vacations from boarding school. 

Speaking at the function I had a lump in my throat, because it’s hard to encapsulate a father’s lifetime. There were so many anecdotes about his childhood, then came his scholastic achievements, career success, the books he wrote post-retirement. I wanted to present a side of him that the audience didn’t already know. 

He was fluent in many languages, but Hindi was his stumbling block. Once a gardener spoke to him in chaste Urdu --“Iss baar fasal ka behad nuksaan hua. Agar yahi haalat barkarar rahe hum barbaad ho jaayenge.” He vaguely understood that it was about poor crop yield, but it sounded like sheer poetry to him. So he replied, “Wah! Aloo pyaaz, subahnallah!”  As a father, he was extremely indulgent. He used to ask us, “why aren't you first?” My impish brother would retort,“how boring it is to stand first every time!” 

My father’s professor at Andhra University had advised him to get into the teaching profession, “once you get a job, you will lose interest in teaching,” he had told him. But my father proved him wrong.  At Dibrugarh University he helped set up the department of Applied Geology. In the 70s, the infrastructure was dismal --classes were held in bashas (like huts) and my father wondered when the students would have state-of-the-art labs etc. Today, the University campus is impressive and the students who graduate from here are recruited by reputed companies. 

He used to tell us that we must give back to the land that we receive from. Most fathers leave behind something tangible or intangible for their children to build their lives upon, but when a person transforms the lives of those whom he works with, he gains the respect of the entire organization, the state and the country. 

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