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Void After My Father's Departure

One year back, I was writing about myself in an article Death at 60. I wrote there I was ready to die at any time, but given a choice, I would like to wait till my father was alive. My purpose for this demand of concession was my desire to support my father morally and physically in his old age. Well, he did not agree to this and went away forever on his own. So, I can loudly pronounce now “I am ready to die!”

However, I have yet to learn how to react to someone when I disagree with and/or my ideas differ in total from the concerned person. At present, in such situations, I keep myself away and withdraw myself. It can be labelled as escapism. But coming to consensus or agreement is not always easy. Due to generation gap or a conservative approach of parents, the difference of opinion is bound to be there. Here, both parties should take care in maintaining the dignity of the other. The ideal option is to ignore the nature of the parents and forgive them immediately.

Mohanlal Desai

I was guided, protected and taken care of by my father for the last 61 years till he departed last week. I was having a disciplined life, just to feel assured that I would not do anything that makes my father unhappy.

Till the last month, I was under the impression that I was the best friend of my father’s and vice versa. He was open to me for anything and everything. I was only partly right though because lately, I knew that he was firm about whatever he wanted to do and there was no scope for any dialogue or discussion by me (or anybody for that matter) for changing his views.
When you are honest, disciplined and strict to the principals, you live a life of high moral ethics. The psyche following this makes you feel proud and often a bit more egoistic. I think that is a dangerous state of situation as far as inter-personnel and inter-family relations are concerned.
If you have more than enough money in old age, you are financially independent. You do not need economic support from anyone. There are chances that this may make you a little arrogant and indifferent to your offspring and family members.

Having gone through the emotional catharsis in the preface, I would like to tell you some details about my father and me.

My father was born on 30-Aug-1924; he left his studies at matriculation to participate in the freedom struggle in 1942. Started earning in 1946 by joining veterinary line just after getting married. Later, he switched over to Agriculture Department from where he got retirement as the Head of three Tehsils in Benor Scheme in 1983. He had the duty of giving subsidy to the farmers. He was very strict in financial discipline. Not only away from corruption, he had a high level of code of ethics not allowing even any tea or breakfast from any of the beneficiaries.

We were 10 (yes, TEN! 6 children, parents, an uncle and a sister of my father) in a small 2-room house to live on a small salary. Most of the salary was spent on food and our education; so the other expenses were not to be thought of. Simple living and hard working were compulsory. The most luxurious vehicle we had was a single bicycle purchased in 1957 at the cost of Rs 200. My mother and all of us used to do all types of household work without the help of any maid (domestic help).

I have inherited most of the good and bad virtues of my father. I wish they become more an asset and less a liability to all concerned.

My father lost his parents before one year of age. Later grandmother and poverty that followed accompanied for long. Then without being corrupt and remaining strictly honest was a great achievement, everybody knowing him would praise. Bringing up six children and giving them a higher education in a meagre salary was a task only he could do, of course with my mother's unconditional support.

The conclusion is not as simple, but I’d try. Parents are the most respectable people you possess. They are not next to God, they are superior to God. They have allowed us to be born, taken greatest care possible and looked after us with the best of their efforts (keeping all their own pleasures away). All this can usually not be realised when they are around us.

Have I succeeded in giving them the due respect? I don’t know. Any amount of respect and honour to parents is less. When both of them have departed for heavenly abode, all I am left with is prayers. Well, I am reminded of my mother-in-law… Yes, I am yet blessed with my mother-in-law.

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  1. Sorry to know about your loss... and I agree with you... parents are above GOD...

  2. Dear Pappa,

    Thank you for such a heartfelt article. I must confess I didn’t exactly know many of the details you mentioned about Bapa.

    I too would like to share my opinion about some of the points you’ve mentioned here, and more about the entire episode of Bapa’s last days and the demise.

    While I’m in agreement with your view of ‘ready to die’ since you no longer need to support your parents in any way, the topic is fairly debatable. I completely respect your sincere commitment to serve your parents till their life breath, I feel there are other people equally dependent on you (mainly, morally). I’m assuming you think the same way and you may not have mentioned that to keep it out of scope of this article. But just to reiterate, your parents’ departure only means conclusion of 'one' of the most important chapter in your life – it most certainly shouldn’t belittle other important ‘roles’ in your life. We all observed Bapa’s state of mind after Ba’s demise. Irrespective of his ‘firm’ beliefs, the fact remained that he deeply felt the void of Ba’s absence. Your being is equally important to Mommy and all of us, for this and many other such reasons.

    Talking of Bapa’s ‘decision’ in his last days, we certainly didn’t agree much. However, if I try to think more neutrally, it wasn’t all that unreasonable, considering the fact that he didn’t have to suffer through troubled old-age days compared to many other elderly ones of his age-group. And after all, he was a great-grandfather to nine proud kids. He definitely had sanity and maturity to take his call. I’m glad he could feel proud for his life till the last moment. I just hope we could’ve agreed to disagree – little more gracefully.

    Staying away for more than 13 years now, I believe my feelings for Ba-Bapa have strictly been emotional and lesser realistic. Since I didn’t spend much time together with them in years, ironically, I’m able to stand their absence quite normally. But then, I can recall my stay at Abrama during summer vacations just so fresh like yesterday – how Bapa used to tell same old ‘undar saat puchhadiyo’ story, those do-teen-panch card games, Connect 4, and then how Bapa came over to Bilimora when Milin passed away, and when I had jaundice… I must say Devansh is lucky to have spent precious moments with his great-grandparents. But I’m sure, he’d also be missing on quite some as he grows. Unfortunately, Vaishuben’s or my children (whenever) will never be lucky enough to live that aspect. As you rightly mentioned, fortunately, we’re still blessed with Indu-ba’s presence.


    1. Beloved Ravi,

      I liked the contents of reply.
      As you rightly mentioned I knew a person is answerable on two sides, of them I was talking only about one.Especially, it was more in reference to previous article DEATH at 60 than anything else.
      I think decision to die at will at 88 may not be wrong per se, but our expectations from relations are only one-sided and sometimes one fail to understand the other-side of the story.
      After marriage, it is luxury to have parents on two sides.Both must be loved and respected equally. and life is happiest ever....
      Well, anyway, every son feels at such time, he would have respected his parents more than he did.
      Love and bless all around as far as your limits permit and I have experienced response is beyond expectations.


  3. Dear BharatUncle,

    First of all, we are sorry for your loss and please accept our prayers for Bapa. Your thoughts touched my heart and made me respond to this blog right now, at 3:36AM.

    I've met Bapa on more than a few occasions when I'd visit Rahul or other family functions and I can say that my impression of him was exactly what you described here. Another reason to have such an impression of him is that I know one more person in my life who lived his life with high values while serving his family and extended family (my bapuji, dad's eldest brother). So, I can relate to what you mean when you said "When you are honest, disciplined and strict to the principals, you live a life of high moral ethics. The psyche following this makes you feel proud and so a bit more egoistic."

    I can't agree more with your ideas on maintaining dignity of the others in disagreement. There is a lot to learn here and it takes courage to do this, I'm trying hard to learn this but have failed on many occasions! Even if we are objective and do not judge the other person/persons, we tend to mix emotions which is when conversation becomes an argument, I guess. My opinion about ending one's life except health concerns, is similar to yours if I understood it right. But again, we can't use the same yardstick across all such cases. I guess, there are, once in a while, souls so pure that they can rise to a level where they dis-connect themselves with rest of the world and they feel (without mixing emotions), they've served the purpose!

    Thinking about the last two paragraphs and the conclusion, I lose words. You said it very rightly, absolutely no amount of respect towards parents is enough. It only makes me wish that I can be my parents' support, love them back and respect them enough so that they would feel satisfied of having me as one of their children (I can only speak on my behalf, I'm sure Priyanka would wish the same). In the end I'd thank God that we are fortunate to have parents like you who not only made sure that we are exposed to right set of values (by living them in front of us) but also we celebrate life, too!

    Thank you for such a thoughtful blog.

    Warm Regards,

    1. Dear Yogesh,

      I am happy you have read my article and analysed the same word by word.
      I liked your agreement that it is difficult to maintain dignity of others when you do not agree.
      When all were going to America (it was very easy and simple those days) in 1974,I have opted to serve my motherland India and parents staying here. I donot know how much such decisions are.
      I am happy to read your reply.


    2. Yogesh,

      That was a very well-worded comment. More importantly, it just reflected the closeness we share as closest friends. Thank you for sharing your thought!


  4. Dear Bharatbhai, Gone through your heart felt emotional and at the
    same time very phylosophical writing....

    Believe me as a say all the while ---"He is my friend with all his
    good and weak points...". Regarding you All i can say of YOU I

    Just go thro' Conclusion and YOU WILL BE fan of my Friend DR.BHARAT DESAI....

    Conclusion is not as simple, but I’d try. Parents are the most
    respectable persons you possess. They are not next to God, they are
    superior to God. They have allowed us to be born, took greatest care
    possible and looked after us with best of their efforts (keeping all
    their pleasures away). All this can usually not be realized when they
    are around us. Have I succeeded in giving them due respect? I don’t
    know. Any amount of respect and honour to parents is less. When both of them have departed for heavenly abode, all I am left with is prayer. Well, I am reminded of my mother-in-law… Yes, I am yet blessed with my mother-in-law.


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