The same faded tiffin bag, actually it was faded when it was new too. Worn out shoes, old briefcase, and tired dad. For years he has been slogging for the same company. The owner changed. The office got renovated people came and went but my dad was still the same. For him working for the same company meant dedication, persistence, loyalty, and integrity. In return, the company puts its trust in you. These were his principals. My uncle used to tell him a new job will get u in demand and give u new prospects and exposure. But my dad never understood what he meant. My uncle moved out of our house and shifted into his new flat. But my father felt that these new apartments were worthless. He found peace in our old house, every night he had to struggle to shut our door and lock it, as it was an old door just like the place we lived in. My uncle bought a brand new expensive sedan. He used to call the car a reason to get stuck in traffic, and he himself was happy with his old Bajaj Priya. My mom, sister, and me we used to pity the old man. I used to think my father had no likes. But a day didn’t go by when the old radio didn’t play in our house, and to those songs, he didn’t nod his head in appreciation. On the day his salary came, he always got me a new pen, new clothes for my sister and anklets for my mother once a year. My mom used to flaunt those with joy. When he used to hear the tinkle of those anklets in my mom’s feet while she moved around getting him his tea it used to bring a smile on his face. But he never looked at her across the newspaper in his hand.
I have seen him get ready in the morning even before our alarm would go off. He polishing his shoes is a sound that I will always remember. The sound of a ladle and the pot in which my mom cooked, my father used to call for my mom while closing the drawers, and the sound of her placing his tiffin on the dining table are memories that are imprinted in my heart I can feel them whenever I close my eyes. The same old same old stuff is it his salary, be it the same vegetables, or be it him waiting for a Sunday it used to irritate me a lot. He will never get out of this routine and will never let me get out too I was sure about that. I complete with my degree and get a job is the only aspiration he has for me that will make him happy. When I get a wife it will be good and when I have a kid it’s even better my life will be perfect. I have always been preached for the same. But now I have made up my mind I am going to leave his house and today I am gonna tell him about it!
One rainy evening in our house there is tea, pakodas the radio is playing and its the day my results come out. My uncle came over to give us the news that his son got through a university in the US. My father was not so happy but my uncle was really proud of his son. My mom quickly prepared some sweets along with chapati and we had lunch. My uncle was telling stories about the US that he had heard from others with excitement. And my dad stuck to convincing my uncle about how the US is dependent on his company. Both the brothers started debating about their standard of living. My sister was on my uncle’s side and my mom was on my father’s side there were two parties suddenly. My results for the exam that I had given for further studies in foreign countries without informing the others in the house I decided to keep it away now was not the time. This option I had chosen to get away from this house, from my tired father his thankless job. But in the end, dad won except for good money he had nothing to say.
My uncle ate the paan and the celebration came to an end and he left. My father started lecturing us about how the recent generations are just behind money. I was hardly paying attention to what he was saying, whereas my sister had her eyes on her cell phone. We arrived one square near the house the usual paan shop guy waved at us. My father said let’s have one more and then head home. The guy made my favorite paan. The paan that my uncle had got from the mall was really sweet and my taste buds were a bit cleansed by this usual pan. My father said “ See son this is how people get far from what really matters in life, what you own, ow much money you have doesn’t really matter, what matters is people, materialistic things make you happy but for some time. Is this how u want to live life running behind materialistic things?. Are we that shallow? I want you to dust your guitar off and see you will see a bright new day.
I used to call my dad names, call him orthodox and old fashioned but he isn’t that bad, he is my father after all. He knows where I come from. My father has been so sensitive about the place that he has been in. The same old job in the same apartment, the same two-wheeler. But today their conversation taught me something that I will always cherish. Staying where you belong isn’t bad and going after materialistic things isn’t bad either. They taught me that there is no winning or losing it just depends on what you want. How you want to live your life, that’s all!
You just read the translated version of Marathi article ‘Ramlelya Babachi Kahani’, written by Sayali Kedar.
Translation by – Mrunmayee Bhave.