Archive for April 10, 2010


I always tell my students to be careful when they post things on social networking sites, because you never know when it could come back to haunt them. Of course, there are times when it does throw up things that are interesting too. Like last night.
I happened to be trawling the worldwide web looking for nothing in particular, when on a whim, I typed my father’s name in the window and clicked enter. On a whim, because I hadn’t thought of him in years, not since my mother passed away in 2003.
The relationship we (my brother and I) had with our father had been a pretty tumultuous one – my brother more than me, because while I lived with my mother since I was five or so, he stayed with my father. I guess both of us have never really forgiven my father for leaving my mother to fend for herself and her children, until he decided to take my brother along with him to Patna. Whether he did this out of some sympathy or sense of duty, I’ll never know.
I knew my father had been a lot of things like barrister, freedom fighter, lecturer and editor, but to read everything about him has left me completely stunned. My mother had never told me in details about his exploits. If she did, I was probably too young to realise the import of such things.
Anyway back to the present. So what popped up on google took me completely by surprise. It was a pretty impressive profile of my father, which I never knew existed. I was reading about things I never knew or ever heard from anyone. Call it a coincidence, but the places he stayed and worked in during his lifetime, I had unknowingly stayed and worked in as well. Then there was his career as a journalist, which was infinitely much more impressive than mine will ever be.
Then there was his career as a lecturer, teaching Law and Commerce at the Law and Commerce Colleges, respectively, in Patna, when he quit politics. I had heard from people he had taught that there were no empty chairs during his lectures and that his students kissed the ground he walked on.
I remember an incident that happened in Pune, when father came to see us. He was accompanied by a young man. When I asked him why he was there, the youngster said “Jayaprakash Narayanji told us that after his death, we should look after your father.” That left me quite unmoved, because in my book, as a husband and father he had failed. When father told me that he along with JP and others had written the Constitution of the Janata Party, headed by Morarji Desai, I caustically remarked that the experiment was then surely going to fail.
When he died at Darbhanga in 1994, neither my brother nor I went for the funeral. My mother cried when she heard the news, and I remember my brother and me telling her that she was shedding tears for a man who had deserted her and his children, when they most needed him. We had shut him out of our lives since then, to the extent that we had even given away the inherited family property to another one of our step-sisters. We wanted nothing to do with anything connected to him.
Seeing the profile on Google brought back a lot of memories. Had we (the family) misjudged him? I don’t know how my brother feels, but I think I am willing to let go off the past. I think it’s time to move on, tell my son that despite all his flaws and his philandering ways, his grandfather was a remarkable man. In his own small way, he had done his duty for his country and for his people, even though he had failed his extended family. But I guess we can’t all be perfect.

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