Monday, May 3, 2010

Appa, My Father.

(Note: This was meant to be published on May 2. Adjust maadi.)

My dad was never around when I was little. I saw very little of him and I did not like much of what I saw. He was always curt, unfailingly grumpy, and seemed to turn up for the express purpose of telling me to get into bed, quit sitting joblessly on my fat arse, wash my neck properly or eat the tomatoes in my rasam. (*vomit*)

He was my mother's secret weapon at the Daily Battle of the Bath, otherwise known as Rowdy Reveille. My parents made an incredibly efficient army. My mother would mount the first offensive by informing me of the time (6.30am), and my father would bring up the rear by picking mine up and making off to the wash basin. He brushed my teeth for me until I was five years old. I did not like waking up and I liked brushing my teeth even less. Being the angel (idiot) child that I was, I made my opinion known fairly regularly. I inevitably threatened to bite his finger if he dared to stick it in my mouth, and I was inevitably hung, drawn, smacked on the butt and frogmarched into the Tower of Shower. I would emerge from the bathroom in a delicate mist of flowery scents and in possession of most of the dirt I went in with. I would be sent back in with (O, Ignominy!) a bucket, a mug, and threats of bloodthirsty violence. I would emerge again in a while- cleaner, pinker, humbler.

Our rather colourful, if somewhat one-dimensional relationship evolved quickly into a strictly commands (him) and strictly monosyllabic answers (me) dynamic. Amongst other things, I disliked mathematics, I disliked him for being good at it, and I disliked the thinly veiled pity he displayed when I questioned the intelligence behind the manufacture of bathtubs with pipes simultaneously filling and emptying them. This was made worse by sundry grandaunts and their voluble daughters who would pop up like fungus everywhere, refer to my blushing father as the 'family genius' (I kid you not) and ask for my report card in the same breath.

I have a creative soul! I wanted to cry dramatically to the Universe. I never want to go to IIM! I never want to learn accountancy! And by God, I never want to wear high-waisted pants!!!!!

(...high waisted pants!)

(...high waisted pants!)

(...high waisted pants!)

(silence..crickets chirping)

(That was the dramatic echo, dumbasses. I SAID the cry was dramatic. I warned you.)

Anyway. My cry reverberated through the Universe, and someone, somewhere, heard it. I have, by the Grace of Superman, never yet had to suffer accountancy, management, or chest pants.

Soon after I reached class seven, my father stopped teaching me math as well. The immediate effects included a drastic improvement in my marks, a drastic drop in his blood pressure, a visible spring in my step and twinkle in my eye, and in my father, the wearing of button-down shirts in the(by my father's standards) exciting, borderline racy shade of maroon... *GASP*. He must have been truly ecstatic. God knows I was.

[ Remind me to tell you one day of my father's extensive collection of shirts, encompassing a dazzling plethora of shades from Pale Blue to Pale Blue. ]

So the elimination of math from our lives reduced the tension between us a little bit. We never spoke casually and I did not have an easy relationship with him. I always felt I was a delinquent child, and a little bit of an academic disappointment. While I grew up kicking and screaming against his authority and his IIM-ness, I did, reluctantly grow to admire and respect him very much. No one has the quiet charisma, the work ethic or the intelligence of my father, and no one's standards will ever be higher than his, to me. As I grew older and calmed down, and he did likewise, I came to see my father as a person wholly apart from his job description as My Father.

I was never a remotely sentimental child, but in my old age I am surprised to learn that as little as I know you, I love you appa.

Have a happy forty ninth birthday; for both our awkward sakes, I hope you never have to read this, and if you do, by God, I never want to know.
(Umm. Dad, if you really are reading this - please don't read the last few blogposts. I say 'fuck' a lot. And by 'fuck' I mean 'shit'. And by 'shit' I mean 'ayyo'. Of course.)


ramsub said...

again, the post i wanted to write, tried writing, couldn't.

Happy Birthday Uncle if you read this....

Anonymous said...


Divya said...

Happy birthday uncle :) We hear a LOT more about you than you would probably ever imagine. Loud checked shirts and concerts and plays eh?

Spaz luv, if you delete this thing I shall slaughter you in your sleep. Or better yet, when you're wide awake and drooling over Hugh Laurie.

Mudra said...

:) I'm going all aww inside. My equation with mine is very very different, but I loved this.

JD said...

ayyo-ing awesome, as always. it'll take your genius to describe your genius.

Spaz Kumari said...

@ramu - i was very much thinking of your blogpost when i wrote this.

@anon - arre! thanks :)

@divi - aiyo ok... no deletions.

@mudra - you should do a post! my relationship is frankly a non-starter, but i'm comfortable with it now. :)

@JD - i'm honoured. thank you.

Curlyconman said...

Arrey IIM is more than just accountancy, right? And from whatever I've read(both blogfather and blogger :D), you don't seem a big fan of what you're studying currently.

That said, the post is really 'aww' worthy towards the end. It's surprising that you write well even when you don't rant. :-)

Sumira Khan said...

Who are you and how come you write so bloody well??!! I'm a fan... a jealous one, but a fan nonetheless.

Aquatic Static said...

Substitute maths with physics and this is my story *wipes tear from eye/ snot from nose*
Happy to have discovered your blog.

Jil Jil Ramamani said...

Uncle, you would probably go *cough* and *serene silence* if you knew the stuff we discuss. HAPPY BIRTHDAY though :D

And Spaz, I beg to disagree about the chest pants, one never knows what's going on under those Dudley shirts.

Anonymous said...

This is sooo cute! Happy Belated bday to your Dad!

Spaz Kumari said...

@curly - IIM = management bit.

@sumira - er...right now, i am Embarassed but Pleased Kumari :) thanks.

@aquatic - ah, physics... don't get me started. so much worse than maths.

@sindhu - you have my solemn promise.

@dagny - whee thanks :D

Aquatic Static said...

I am spooked. Feel like you are my doppelganger. Except a 124 yrs younger & more gifted with words.

Nickelback contempt - check, Delhi Mall opinions - check, Fathers-check, Word verification trauma - check.
Chetan Bhagat gag reflex - check (well...that one's universal)

Who in God's name are you?!?!! :D

Jil Jil Ramamani said...

She is Le Dibba. If she was a boy, we would have called her Dibbakar.

soin said...

oh no.all that damaged aniiyan type childhood memories.dead frog and all.traumatic.thankfully yenga naina paravailla.try finding out about your appa college days.i he is after his own

agent green glass said...

oooee. i'm always senti about dads. and then i read this, and i'm all teary. dude, i miss my dad so much. and yeah, wish your dad a belated birthday wish.

narendra shenoy said...

*sniff* I suspect my kids thought the same of me in the early days. They're doing superbly since I stopped teaching them and are currently waaaay cooler and smarter than I could even dream of being. Happy b'day to your dad

Spaz Kumari said...

@aquatic static - are you spaz? cos i am spaz.

@sindhu - dry spit.

@soin - my father was born forty.

@AGG - aw why missing? go see him! go go go!

@shenoy saar - the inventor of the 'Shenoys' striking fear into the heart of his sons? seriously? yeah right. :D

RukmaniRam said...

oh. wow. I love the way you write. Adore. Fanboy?

Spaz Kumari said...

@rukmaniram - *blussssssssing* thank you.

GB said...

Haha :P Nalla iruku, ponnu. Loved it!