My father is 65 years old. In these years he has visited local Mandis (vegetables wholesalers) more than 1000 times. Driven scooter for going to SBI where he worked, for more than 20,000 kms. Driven bicycle for more than 1000 kms to chop grass for family’s cows. Worked as a banker for more than 30 years before he got tired enough to take voluntary retirement. Lived in a house of max 2 rooms with more than 6-7 people for almost 15 years. Single handedly bought land and built a house for his entire family at an age of 25.
Also in these 65 years he has seen less than 15 movies in hall, sat on an aeroplane for 2 times, had a meal in a restaurant less than 10 times, went on a trip with friends 2 times, never got a chance to swim, never attended the annual function of his children even. This is the life of an Indian father, brother and son. A life where leisure could not seek in and make its place too like troubles and responsibilities had made.
I have been aware of these things since forever as these are his stories which we have heard time and again. But all these things became a step more conspicuous yesterday when Babba and I went to Bhimtal for ‘ leisure’. On reaching Bhimtal I insisted to do boating. He has served as banker in Bhimtal for 3 years. Probably a gush of memories went through his head that he could not stop talking about the bank, it’s people and how he used to travel every day to Bhimtal earlier from Nainital and later from Haldwani. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was heavily bored and pissed off of his conversation. Instead of living in the present and enjoying the beauty of lake, ducks and the gigantic hills around, all he could talk was about the bank, it’s people and their houses. Once we hopped off the boat, he asked me did you enjoy the boating because he clearly found nothing amusing in it. I then asked him how many times has he done boating in his life? To which he replied probably this was the second time! The irritation that had built up within me vanished in that cinch of a second. Here was a man who has spent his entire life in working, sometimes for family, othertimes for public but never for himself. How could I even think of him to be as expressive about the nature’s beauty as I was. Afterall there is absolutely no comparison between his life and mine, which ironically has been provided by him and his sacrifices itself. While he still calls out that he has never been to Mumbai or Kolkata, I on the other hand have travelled the world with zero responsibilities of a single person in my head. Clearly you just can’t be comparing cactus with oranges. Thanks Babba. Yesterday’s boating was probably the best time on a boat that I have spent.