Monday, December 26, 2022

One hundred years

 Today is very special for me as it marks my father's 100th birthday.

This photograph is about thirty years old, taken on the occasion of Holi, at my aunt's home in Allahabad. My brother was visiting from England, and he accompanied my parents to Allahabad, and to my home in Lucknow.
My father looked like this for much of his life: serene, good humoured, with a smile hovering around his lips. Even when he was old and infirm, Daddy was always stoic. He shed a few tears on learning of my brother's sudden demise, but subsequently kept his grief to himself. He shared joyful memories of my brother with my sister-in-law and my nephews, for the memorial service
From him, I think, I have learned to find joy and contentment in the everyday, to appreciate whatever life has to offer. He was always appreciative of good food, and relished, most expressively, my mother's cooking. He would, enthusiastically, share the hottest of green chillies with me, leaving me with watering eyes and a burning mouth! He loved listening to good music, especially his beloved Saigal, whom he inflicted upon his unwilling children, until Saigal's immortal songs became part of our very being. He had a fondness for the performing arts, and was an enthusiastic theatre goer. I remember hearing about my parents, (when we lived in London), having had to book their tickets for the My Fair Lady musical, some ten months in advance. He subsequently also loved the Stagedoor performance of Pygmalion in Delhi several decades later. An abiding memory is of an M.S.Subbalakshmi concert at the Ashoka Hotel, transformative by its sheer beauty. He would take me and my sister to Sapru House to watch children's films.
Books, of course. A few cherished reference books: an atlas, dictionary, encyclopaedia, plus some of the Readers Digest condensed books. Mostly library books. Daddy chortling away while reading Wodehouse. Much later, while staying with us (when living independently was no longer possible for my parents), he would happily watch old Utpal Dutt movies time and time again, chuckling away at the same comedies. Golmaal and Naram Garam were his great favourites. He had a wicked sense of humour. He also, in his later years, became very fond of Google Baba, which became the arbiter of any factual disagreements we may have had. He had always been staunchly independent, and was always willing to try to learn/do something new.
As I plan to make the first carrot halwa of the season, I remember our family halwa making venture, with Daddy grating many kilos of carrots with a hand-powered rotary grater.
He was always appreciative of my efforts in looking after him, and would say, "Tum ko badi mushakkat karni padti hai."
I am inundated with memories, far too many to share here.
I remain eternally grateful for having Dayal Saran Seth as my father.
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