banno, dhanno and teja in bumm-bumm-bhole-land

this one’s for you, daddy

The view from my room today evening was like this. A few minutes ago, distracted, I had hung up rather impatiently on Teja. I called him back and said, “I had a room with a wall near my window. I wanted to change it. Now I have a pool, a canal and a river outside my window. And fields. And lots of palm trees. And elephants even.”

Whenever something like this happens, I think of one breakfast I had with Daddy, a few days before he died. He had been admitted for some tests, and the evening before we had been told that it was bad. I stayed in the hospital room that night and listened to him breathe.

It was nothing new. I often did that when I went back home, listened to my parents’ breathing, sleeping in the same room as them.

The next morning, in the hospital room Daddy said, “The breakfast here is terrible. Let’s go out and eat.”

We walked to the gate to the small Udipi restaurant just outside. I wanted toast butter. The waiter said they didn’t have it, there was no electricity. I nodded my head and looked at the menu for something else to order. My father said to the waiter, “Why can’t you get her toast butter? Just toast it on gas.” The waiter agreed. My father said to me, “You must insist on getting what you want. You can get it most of the time.”

That day came after many years of a slight distance between my father and me. It’s not that he was angry with me, but so many of the life choices I had made were beyond his comprehension or approval, so he had just withdrawn himself from me, though available when I needed him.

Somehow that breakfast, when the two of us were alone, without the rest of the family, always seems to me his way of telling me that he forgave me, that he wanted the best for me. It made what came later a little easier to bear.

Today standing in the balcony of my hotel room, I felt happy that I had insisted on my room being changed, instead of staying in the one that I had been given, as I was inclined to do. Later, I walked to the market and ate in a restaurant and listened to a rock band, ‘Almost Famous’, instead of ordering room service.

I also bought an aubergine bag at the airport today, while waiting for my flight. And I got a phone call which was a signal on the verge of going green for my new children’s film script.

It’s not always like today. I more often than not stand ready to give up things, rather than claim them. My “Mother India” syndrome, Dhanno calls it.

But maybe one day, Daddy, I will learn not to be ‘Mother India’. Before I am too old. Before it’s too late.

Edited to add: Of course, while I could hear that breath, I did not really care if  my father was upset with me or if we had a fight. I just went about doing my own thing, secure in the sound of that breath.

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36 comments on “this one’s for you, daddy

  1. bawa
    March 1, 2011

    much food for thought, thank you for sharing.

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Thanks, bawa.

  2. Space Bar
    March 1, 2011

    I think some of us could do with regular reminders to ask for what we want…

    Also, just, *hugs*

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Space Bar, *hugs*. Wish we were doing that in real life, though.

  3. Purnima Rao
    March 1, 2011

    What a lovely post…

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Thanks, Purnima.

  4. dipali
    March 1, 2011

    What a lovely post, and what a great lesson from your father.
    I need to learn this one too.

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Dipali, aw! What is it with all of us? Is this an Indian woman thing?

      • memsaab
        March 2, 2011

        I think it’s a universal woman thing…

        But I notice my nieces are much less inclined to put up with stuff they don’t like than I am.

        • Banno
          March 4, 2011

          Yes, Memsaab. The same with Dhanno and her friends.

  5. dustedoff
    March 1, 2011

    What a very touching post, and one I could identify with, in some ways… thank you.

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Thank You, Dustedoff.

  6. Satish
    March 1, 2011

    Nicely written. Btw, is this place the Rio resort in Goa?

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Yes, Satish. Stayed here?

      • satish
        March 4, 2011

        Yes, last month, infact. College re-union with a few old & very dear friends. The elephants in the pool were a dead giveaway :-)

        • Banno
          March 4, 2011

          Oh, it would be nice to go there for something like a re-union. I’m there on work, so don’t get to enjoy the elephants much. :(

  7. Violet
    March 1, 2011

    Beautiful post Banno.. thanks for sharing your little outing with your dad. I totally agree to asking for stuff instead of just giving up. It is coincidence that I was preaching the same thing to the spouse a couple of hours back, not that I am spotless. I claimed my GMAT fee for tax exemption under professional development, and the company granted. I had appeared for the exam in May last yr, and the husband made fun of me when I asked him if it could be claimed. It is not much, just USD 250, the tax exemption would roughly be around 3K, but I have been beaming since morning :D

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Good for you, Violet, :)

  8. bawa
    March 1, 2011

    I had this quote at the back of mind for the rest of the events of your post, have only just dug it out. its by one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman,

    “He had noticed that events were cowards: they didn’t occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once.”

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      True, true, so true, bawa.

  9. Isha Maniar
    March 1, 2011

    This is so sweet.

    • Banno
      March 1, 2011

      Thanks, Isha.

  10. memsaab
    March 2, 2011

    Can’t wait to see you :)

    • Banno
      March 4, 2011

      :)

  11. Paromita
    March 3, 2011

    That’s lovely. Hugs.

    • Banno
      March 4, 2011

      Thanks, Paro. Let’s, let’s meet up. I don’t think I’ll make it to the night out. :(

  12. aneela z
    March 5, 2011

    Yup, the white dupatta and huddling over the sewing machine never got us anywhere. Yes the Boy Wonder will strut in one evening all Maa May BA me Pass Hogaya, but that is just cue music to clear off as the Real Story will now begin. As I keep on telling people channel less of Nirupa Roy and ask yourself What Would Lalita Pawar Do? (as clearly that lady had all the fun).

    • Banno
      March 6, 2011

      Aneela, :) Glad to see you back, hale and hearty.

      • aneela z
        March 6, 2011

        yup, reached dhaka hale and hearty and three laundry bags full this weekend. Travelogue on Cox Bazaar and St Martins to follow..but before that batul, i need your feedback on something…could you email me at aneela.zeb.babar@gmail.com as in NOW.
        Aneela Hunterwali

  13. Natasha
    March 6, 2011

    Your father is my father, Banno.
    My father has also become quieter these last few years, but his smile is gentler too. I believe it is a gift to us, a silent go-ahead. ‘I don’t understand what inspires you guys, I’m not the best person to advise you, but go ahead, I’m with you.’
    From that confidence, we teach ourselves to ask for a room with a view. Of elephants! Love, Natasha

    • Banno
      March 6, 2011

      Thank you, Natasha for sharing.

  14. sarah
    March 7, 2011

    very thought provoking. specially the incident in that restaurant . thanks for sharing this… :)

    • Banno
      March 8, 2011

      Thanks, Sarah.

  15. surabhi
    March 24, 2011

    I dont know how i missed reading this earlier.

    Lovely post, your way of writing as gentle and reassuring as the breakfast with your father.

    And, thrilled to hear about the next film in the pipeline – your little fan in my house will be delighted.

    • Banno
      March 24, 2011

      Thanks, Sur. You know, I have been thinking of Sanah and how she would react to my new film. After all, she is one of my most loyal fans. :)

  16. Pingback: Anatevka is where the heart is | banno, dhanno and teja in bumm-bumm-bhole-land

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2011 by in Banno, fotoos, of family and friends, real world and tagged , , , .
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