My association with my daddy goes back by about 3 decades; 3 decades filled with every conceivable emotion on earth. Of course, the first 3-4 years are shrouded in the mystery of childhood, the rest are clear, etched in my mind for posterity.
My earliest memories are of a very young daddy; incidentally, for some weird reason, I never feel daddy looks old, ever. Even now, I feel he looks the same! “It’s all in his genes,” ma says about his family. Talking of dad’s family, I find them to have a strange mixture of everything. Looks, health, brain, wealth, every damn thing, probably it’s that potent combination that carved my daddy’s personality. Yeah, going back to my memories, I remember daddy taking me on his cycle. He fixed a baby seat for me along with a foot rest. Now, I wonder if he made the foot rest himself coz he’s good at metal carving; I vaguely remember ma talking of some lovely metal carving he presented her, which she misplaced! I was once down with a severe attack of jaundice. Every evening daddy used to ride me on his cycle to the naturopath, who was at least 7-8 km away from home. It was such a lovely ride for me. I knew all the land marks, some bushes, then open grounds with sand, with grass, etc. Daddy used to keep talking, rather would continue to answer my constant prattle. There used to be places where there used to be tones of mosquitoes, he would tell me to close my eyes and mouth. Probably, he took his breaks from my constant chatter!
The next memory is how Naveen (a close cousin and a friend) and I used to fight for pouring water on the chicken’s cut head to ensure that the blood doesn’t clot! Such bloody kids we were! Dad used to cut the chicken so damn skillfully. Soak it in hot water, defeather it, smoke it a little and then rub turmeric over it. Finally, he will make pieces of the right size and cleaned the gizzard so skillfully! We used to be so riveted by that sight. Too bad, I didn't pick up the art:( Then, Naveen and I used to carry them one after the other to the kitchen, where ma or grandma or athai would cook the chicken.
Once, it was time for my little sister’s birth, ma was in the hospital, I was left at my Grandparents’ place, which I loathed royally. I hated being there. Daddy couldn’t see the tears in my eyes and took me home and comforted me. I remember that night very clearly because I knew daddy didn’t sleep that night, I could see his cigarette light the entire night. Now, I know why he didn’t sleep that night; ma delivered my sister that night all alone, and dad just couldn’t forgive himself for leaving ma alone, neither could he see tears in his little daughter’s eyes. Maybe, that’s why he fell so completely in love with the little one who was born on that night, the little brat, Christina Priya Dhanuja! Boy, she had loads of hair on her head. It's her in the snap with mom and dad.
One day, my sister threatened to run away from home, she was just 5 at that time! She started walking only to return in a couple of minutes. Dad was waiting for her and suddenly she jumped screaming, aiyo paamabu! It was a little viper! Daddy deftly caught it and killed that little devil!
Then, came our trips across the country. Since dad worked for the railways, train travel was free! Every year, ma would plan the trip and dad would write the pass and take us to Bangalore, Mysore, Salem, Kerala, Bombay, Delhi, etc…
Our church skits…dad used to make those lovely angel wings, our models, and even design our clothes! I remember once I was dancing on the stage, and I saw one figure in the audience sitting very far from the stage and enjoying so thoroughly. It was my daddy, I still can’t verbalize how happy and protected I felt at that moment. I remember palm sundays...how his hands transformed some plain looking coconut sheaves into snake pits, snakes jumping out from a basket...actually, our grandfather was much better at it, making all types of mats, fans, dolls, etc...
Then, came the idea of getting me a cycle. Daddy said, you learn to ride the cycle, I’ll get it for you. I said I knew; it was one of the best white lies I ever said! Of course, dad forgot my lies and taught me to ride the cycle.
My sister used to be sick when she was young, and so on some days he will take her to the doctor. The route used be through my school, and I would spot them riding away. Once my sister turned and started squealing for joy coz she saw me, I also screamed for joy and all three of us waved to each other…This whole blog will not be enough to write all the memories I have about daddy’s histrionics. However, I have written all that I could…
At work, dad rose from a very low rank. Today, he’s a Senior Section Officer. It fills me with so much pride to be his daughter. Dad, is completely a self-made person. He built our lovely house. While he was building the house, he caught a funny accent, the accent of the construction workers. Now wonder they adored him:)
I love my daddy
(Actually, I am ‘only’ ammu, but with the birth of the little one, the focus shifted to ‘chinna’ ammu, and I became periya ammu, at least for daddy, heee…)