It is Father’s Day once again. While many are busy, finding gifts for their fathers, I ignore the tears rolling down my cheeks and consoled myself that you are in a better place now. It is hard to accept the fact that I could not wish you personally on a day like today. There are thousands of things I want to tell you; I am writing a few lines for you today, expressing my thoughts, which I so dearly wanted to convey for long, as follows;
Loving my mother
To my Father, my idol!
A letter from Earth to Heaven through the Imphal Free Press
Updated 20 Jun 2021, 6:06 pm
As a young boy, I used to feel uneasy and at times ashamed of how you would openly display your love and affection for my mother. Later, I realised your unwavering love for her was more than about her ; you have been religiously following the saying, ‘if you love your children, love their mother.’ How I now wish to see you hug my mother and kiss her again. I can promise you, I will not be ashamed but be rather ecstatic. My mother was your first true love and your last. Your unconditional love towards my mother taught me that a good husband is the hallmark of a good father.
It is only natural for parents in general and fathers, in particular, to make sacrifices for their children. But, as I have said on your funeral day, ‘All fathers love their children but none like you.’ How can I forget you walking miles and saving the taxi fare to buy me my favourite magazine with it? There will be countless sacrifices you must have made for us, many of which would be when we were too young to remember; the sleepless nights and tiresome days you have endured to bring us up are only a few I could fathom now after I became a father myself. You have never bought for yourself a decent dress, while you’d even resort to borrowing, if required, to buy us one. You cannot imagine how I so wanted to buy you the best clothes now, Dad. The belief that you are now in a place where you will be wearing the most beautiful and attractive dress, is the only reason I could afford to smile, though in tears. You perfectly exemplified how a father is willing to sacrifice anything in the world for the love of their children.
Managing work-life balance
Your mantra of ‘Work is worship’ was difficult to comprehend at times, then; for many days you’d leave us and travel far and wide. I remember raising my voice on a few occasions complaining why you could not be with family like everyone else even on Christmas. I was too naïve to acknowledge and appreciate the precious times you have spent with us. Now that I have a job on my own, I could clearly understand how work sometimes compels us to sacrifices family times. The irony is that one needs to be sincere at work to make ends meet and also spare adequate time for the family to avoid relationship gaps. You must have wished with all your heart to be with us all the time, but for work. Sometimes when I feel stressed and frustrated about my job, I’d remember you and exhort myself to be dedicated in my work. You were a master in managing work-life balance and remarkably shouldered the challenging responsibilities of a father and the sole breadwinner in the family.
Your words of, ‘Unless you understand what is verb and adverb, prepare to fast. You will not be provided even a cup of water,’ when I was a little child, still lingers in my ear. Education was your topmost priority apart from our health. That commitment and belief, in aptly regarding education as the prime factor that would shape our future is the only reason why I could write this story today in an esteemed newspaper such as this. And whatever I am today, in being able to put food on the table in my own humble way, is largely due to the importance you paid to my education. As a father of two now, I struggled often to even teach them ABC; when I play being harsh, my conscience told me to be soft and when I treated them softly, a voice in the back of my mind told me I should have been firmer in my approach. I usually took the easy route of washing my hands off and throwing the responsibility to someone else. Nevertheless, I will make sure not to shy away from teaching my children the importance of education and the valuable life lessons you have taught me. You showed me how a good father needs to be a good teacher, relentlessly aspiring for the all-round development of his children. You were, and you still are my best teacher.
The story of Job, of a man who despite his intolerable sufferings steadfastly held on to God, has been your favourite story you often professed and endeavoured to emulate yourself. On many occasions, I have witnessed your calm and composed nature even in the face of grave situations, a trait which could only be possessed by those having their faith and hope firmly rooted in God. When you were in your death bed, I had earnestly prayed to God to heal you. And when that didn’t happen, my faith was crushed and shattered. Then I realised how you would have wanted me to know you were eternally healed and wished that I reminded myself of the story of Job. Despite my shortcomings, I now truly believe in the power of the divine spirit and truly accept that God does consider what is best for us; this understanding has played a pivotal role in accepting and coping the challenges life offers. You were my spiritual guru.
The above messages are not exhaustive but only a select few of the many thoughts I did not have the opportunity to express when you were here on earth. You must have known by now my inability to live-up to the high standards you have set as a father; I am not half as good as you. On this Father’s Day though, I can promise you that the privilege of being blessed with a father like you will not go in vain; may God help me! Thank you for being my father, Hepa! #HappyFathersDay
Yours Loving Son,
T S Haokip (@Thangboi as you’d lovingly call me)
First published:19 Jun 2021, 7:45 pm
Author of Hilly Dreams, T Seiminthang Haokip is a Contributor of Imphal Free Press. A former development professional, the writer served as a consultant in the Ministry of Rural Development, GOI.