My earliest memory with my father is that of him following me around like paparazzi, camera in hand, as I danced around while reciting poems, or Vengaboys. We'd jump on sofas and beds and chairs, wreaking havoc on the house. Ma was always worried we'd crash into something, and with good reason. I remember this one time we were playing tag at home, when he collided with the coffee table, breaking it, and his leg. There he lay, presumably in pain, and yet, ensuring I don't cut myself on the broken pieces.
There are a few staple ideas that Pa loves talking about. One of them comes up every other week or so, and they're always pure pearls of wisdom. A popular hit from my academic days was “काक चेष्टा, बको ध्यानं, श्वान निद्रा, अल्पहारी, गृह त्यागी” - the five qualities of an ideal student. I'm long past my school years, and I still haven't emulated any of those in entirety. Another gem is to find a domain, personal or professional, and build a rock-solid expertise on it, a subject in which I can hold my own, always.
One of his favorites though, is how things circle back to their seemingly obsolete versions over time. The iteration completes, and the loop goes on, and life makes a full circle to come back to its origin. He loves backing this up with everyday examples - fashion trends that were condemned a few decades ago making their way to the top today, evergreen music being remixed to trigger nostalgia, advertisements from way back when finding their way into pop culture. He's always been great with observations like that.
I was an inquisitive child, as we all are. I'd point to things nobody would pay attention to, and ask about their origin and purpose. This is the mind-blowing part though - Appa has never not answered a question. From the trees that we drive past, to the days that are overcast, he's always in the know. When kids fought over whose father was the best, I never bothered to join in the conversation. My dad is a real-life, omniscient superhero.
Pa's got 36 years on me, and yet, everyday I see him strutting about looking as youthful as ever. At 59, he's more active than I have been all my life. He has taught me too many precious lessons to enumerate, but my favorite remains empathy. When I was younger, I always wondered how he won over everybody he met. Today I realize, it's because he has never treated anybody with anything other than the utmost respect and compassion. Hell, he feeds animals the same food he eats, because it'd be unfair not to do so. The part I value most about myself, is the legacy he gratefully decided to pass on to me. I couldn't ask for anything better.
A lot has been said about fathers. Silent protectors, watchful guardians, doting providers. There's nothing that I can say about mine. For the life he has given me, for the person he made me, for the decisions he trusted me to take. What do you say about the person you owe everything to? Thank you is too petty a phrase, love isn't too deep an emotion. So all I do is take a page out of his book, do instead of say, and try to make something of myself he can be proud of.