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Thursday, 25 April 2013

50. ON YOUR 87TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY, DEAR FATHER!

Mr RC Sharma ( 25th April,1926 to 19th January, 1997)

It was a lazy Sunday morning some 45 years ago and I was studying for my forthcoming exams.

“Ding dong” the call bell announced arrival of a visitor. Reluctant to leave my books, I was relieved to see my father moving towards the Drawing Room. The initial exchange of greetings was partly audible in my room and distracted me. However, I tried to concentrate on Karl Marx. “From each according to his capacity, to each according to his need…”

The orderly walked in, “Saheb has asked for three cups of tea for the guests.”
“Ok. Keep three cups of water for boiling on the gas. I am coming in two minutes,” I told him detesting the idea of getting up at that point of time but I had no choice. 

The conversation outside was hardly audible. Who were these visitors, I wondered. It was normal for most people to become extremely humble while talking to my father, perhaps because of his position of authority that he held or may be because he was so upright that nobody would dare ask him for out of turn favours. Ignoring these thoughts, I turned back to my notes.

“The water is boiling,” the orderly informed me. As I got up and moved towards the kitchen, I suddenly heard a loud thud from the Drawing Room as if something heavy had been thrown out on the lawn. My father’s voice was loud and angry. He was shouting at the visitors at the top of his voice, “Get out of here! How dare you…”
I rushed back to my room to gauge what was happening outside.

Let me confide in you that there was a small peep-hole in the window between my room and the Drawing Room. I struggled through it only to see that a brief-case half open was lying on the lawn with bundles of 100 Rupee notes strewn around in the green grass. My father was shouting at the visitors to get lost. Soon I witnessed those suited booted “gentlemen” stuffing the wads of money back into the briefcase and leaving with their tail between the legs. My father banged the door after them and came in.

I rushed back to my study table and buried my head in the books as if I had not heard or seen anything. My mother had just come out of the bathroom and enquired, “Who had come? What happened?”
“Nothing! These b*** think they can bribe me. They had brought five lac rupees so that I let them continue with their illegal activities. I have kicked them out,” he sounded cool as a cucumber
“Served them right,” was my mother’s spontaneous response.

“Ab chai pilao.” As he said this, I sprang up from my table and rushed to the kitchen to prepare three cups of tea.
                                        *****


Four decades ago, the value of five lac rupees was more than five crore rupees of today. Were you never tempted, dear father?
If you were alive, I would have asked you who gave you such strong values and courage. Was this my grandmother who inculcated these values in you? Or was it my mother who stood by you never raising any demands and managing the household within the limited salary of a govt. servant?

How did you manage to live by your values in this world of greed and avarice? Were you never tempted? Why is it that some people like you, despite humble background and limited means, stick on to their dearer than life values while others have no qualms in collecting wealth through unscrupulous means despite having abundance of it in their lives? Among all your qualities, I admire you most for your honesty. 


I once again salute you dear father for your strong values which all of us, your children and grand-children, have imbibed from you, have been nurturing them and carrying them forward. Although you left us more than 16 years ago, you continue to inspire us.

Today on your 87th birth anniversary, we bow to you in respectful homage.
*****

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