An Ode to my Parents

In three days time, on May 10th 2013, if my father was alive, my parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It would have been a great celebration, my father didn’t know the meaning of small. Sadly, my father is no longer with us. My mom will spend the big day alone in her compact apartment, like she spends so many of her days now. She no longer lives in the house where she lived for 45 years since she came there as a young bride. I feel a sinking sensation in my heart today, knowing it cannot be what it could have been.

My father was a larger than life, dominating personality. He lived life big. His appetites and his laughter were big. He dominated the room if he was in it. Tall for an Indian man of his time, he was a full foot taller than my petite mother. My mother is and was always a quieter personality. She blends in with people and listens more than she talks. They made an odd couple in many ways. Complete opposites who somehow completed each other.

Growing up, I remember my dad’s booming voice ringing out instructions and directions. My mom kept herself busy with her home and children. When I was really little the sound of daddy’s voice if it was talking to me angrily was a scary thing. Then I turned about ten and realized he was just a big softie at heart and I could play him very easily by turning on the waterworks. Of the three of us kids, I was the one who got into trouble the most and therefore got a lion’s share of their attention. My sister and brother were lambs by comparison. And yet, even at that young age I knew I could make this man melt if I cried a few tears. I got out of so many scrapes by this simple expedient.

My dad always thought he was a great feudal lord and could make all of us do exactly what he wished. It didn’t usually work out that way but he was always such a doll about it. He always said ‘no’ to anything we suggested and then let us do it our way. I realize what a gift that was to us, particularly us girls, for not many girls in our generation were treated so evenhandedly. Of course it took me half a lifetime to work that one out.

My mom with her quiet voice and a few well chosen words had us doing things her way. She inculcated a deep love of books and knowledge in us simply by her example. This is a woman who has read most of the great works of English literature in Kannada translations. She has no college education like many women of her generation. Yet the thirst for knowledge within her glowed brightly enough to light the way for my sister and me to reach for higher knowledge. I believe she has one of the most literate minds I have across in my life, much more so than many very highly educated women I have met.

And so these two lived together for 42 years and brought us up in a household filled with love, laughter and books. There were plenty of tears too, most of them mine, many of them crocodile tears. The greatest gift my parents gave us was the right to question everything. It has made for a lifelong quest for answers, even to the imponderables.

My father liked to think he made every decision concerning our family on his own. But I have seen that on each fork in the road of our lives, he would reach out to my mother for guidance and help. She was the flaming torch that lit his way and she was his sounding board. I only wish he could be around to celebrate this 50th year of their life together. I wish we could have the chance to talk to him one more time, so we could tell him how much his love and guidance has meant to us. In his last days as he lingered in a coma, my sister, my brother and I told him everything we felt in our hearts. We can only hope he heard us.

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23 Comments

Filed under Family and other odd stuff

23 responses to “An Ode to my Parents

  1. Gowri rai.

    Nutan ,
    great tribute to your Daddy. Subbianna is one great man lived his life lavishly, most stylish man of those days. We were very young and neighbours and loved the family very much. Sabithakka i admire her for her dignified yet simple silence. Not all are lucky to see their 50th anniversary. We as children miss the most. Great daughter. lovely writing and i appreciate your love at this time . Naturally i understand your feelings. I hope you remember me…Gowri Aunty.

    • Thank you Gowri Aunty. You remember my parents so accurately. My mom always talks of all of you with affection. I met your sister a couple of years ago when they visited Atlanta. It was wonderful to catch up with her.

  2. Sudha

    Nuthan, this is such a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Nutan,
    A really touching and captivating Ode! You took me back through all those years ! I love reading and I really enjoyed reading through. You were always an
    icon of the class of ’81 and you will always remain so ! I have never forgotten you and never will ! Love Maria

    • Maria, Thank you. I remember you very well too. We were such a crazy bunch and we were lucky to stay together all those years of school. We had such fun didn’t we?

  4. Nidhi Choudhary

    Hey Nuthan, it was almost like reading my life with my Mum & Dad. They had the most beautiful 45 years together, Pa was a nearly a foot taller than Ma and boy could my tears make him melt…he never told us what to do & always said, do it if you think its right. Miss him though I know Ma misses him more. Thanks for the share. Big hug. Nidhi

    • Thank you Nidhi. That is a wonderful tribute to your dad. We are lucky to have had wonderful, supportive fathers. Think of all the Indian girls of our generation who were forced to do things against their will. Then thank our fathers, and our mothers, again.

  5. Leeyon Mendonsa

    Heay Nuthan. Loved it. A Great Lovely Tribute to your Dad from an Adoring Daughter.lol. I can imagine how wonderful it would have been to have him around to celebrate. I had the blessing of celebrating 50 yrs of my parents togetherness, although mom was in a bad state at that time, as well as hubby’s parents great day. Thanks for sharing, a God Bless to your Mom, your sis, bro and not to forget yourself and your families.

  6. veena

    Dear Akka,Great tribute to Mama.Mama and Mami been such a great support to our family and always been remembered.Miss him too.

  7. Kushita

    Nuthu, this is a very touching tribute to aunt and uncle. You’ve described yourself pretty accurately. I remember you in those days :). Surekha on the other hand, was the dream child for my parents

    • Yeah Kushita, the dream child of most parents. I used to get so mad at her for being so good, I’d start fights over anything and used my fists carelessly. Poor Surekha. I bet she had been born anywhere else, where I wouldn’t be around.

  8. shobha sequeira peres bhatt

    Nuthan, a beautiful tribute to your parents. Your have described their personalities so vividly. You really have a gift with words and you have used it so well. God bless you all.

  9. Nagaveni S. Shetty

    Nuthan,
    You have described your parents so well and I always admire your mother. How well she manages on her own, how well she speaks and shows her affection to those around her. Such senior people are a blessing to everybody around. We do not know what life holds for us in the future, but such people are a source of inspiration for us to live our life well and she is a role model to emulate. Thank you for remembering me and sending it to me.

  10. Sharmila

    Nuthan so touched. As friends of Surekha i so admired your dad though only heard abt him through Surekha and saw him at events. I have met your quiet and pretty mum many times and you have aptly described her. Surekha in our class we revered her for being so well read and she was my role model though those days I didn’t understand it that way and maybe just envied her.

    You two sisters are indeed awesome. God bless your mum and ask for your dads soul to be in eternal peace

  11. Shubhashree Shetty

    Hey Nuthun a wonderful tribute to your father who was a wonderful person. If I not wrong i think his name was Subbanna Shetty if not so pleaz excuse me. I had an oppportunity to meet him once when we were in 8th Std, he was there with Ram to pick u and Surekha from school and he overheard me saying i have no sketch pen to colourthe drawing and so i have not submitted it and my god it was a suprise to me when he came near u and told to give ur sketchpen to me to use it for 2 days. I will never forget this in my life , in those days having sketchpen was something like having a smart phone.

    May god keep UNCLES soul in peace

  12. Marisa

    Nuthan I remember you as the cute, naughty little sister of Surekha with your twinkling, mischievous eyes and lovely curls.. .Surekha of course was the sedate, gentle big sister. Ninette and me we’re fond of you both… I remember your dad dropping u both to school in his black ambie…… What I didn’t know is your writing skills which you kept hidden ….. So happy I came across it… Keep on writing….
    Marisa

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