Once we controlled our laughter, Radhika started making tea. I know I said I’m a coffee person but there is something truly beautiful about Radhika’s tea. I just cannot deny myself the pleasure. Tea or coffee. It seems as if an artist’s hands just cannot do any wrong. We had laughed for quite some time until then. Yet Radhika couldn’t supress some random giggles here and there, as if she was having just too much fun to just let it go.
Once she had simmered the tea long enough, she poured it into two cups and handed me the larger one. We stayed quite for a while after that, blowing little breaths to cool the tea, and taking little sips in-between from our respective cups.
“So, anything else happened? Anything other than T-shirt department?” Radhika asked me as a little chuckle escaped her mouth.
“What would you call interesting, dear? I don’t know. It seemed like, um, more or less of a normal day, I guess, nothing unusual to it, typical Monday, traffic, rain, humidity, you know, your usual stuff,” I said as I took few more sips from my cup.
“You know people generally consider them to be the highlights of the day, Atul. Sometimes slowing down and enjoying the mundane life works wonder, you should try it sometime, dear,” Radhika said, more accurately suggested to me as I was lost in the depths of my cup of tea.
“Screw the people, you and me, we are creatures of complicated taste,” I said with a hint of pride in my voice.
“You and your idealist views of society. You know, someday you’ll just have to let it go. There is a saying Atul, you should not take away someone’s faith, if you do, they’ll make you their god.”
Now, that particular statement might go over the head of just too many people but I broke into a mischievous chuckle after that.
Radhika continued and asked, “You saw the news today?”
“Let me tell you a little story,” I said, putting the cup behind one of the legs of the chair.
“Once there was a flight coming from Mumbai to Delhi. From the terminal, out came four normal looking people. Alright? One was looking rather weary, old and with eyes that have seen just too much. Another was a rather young boy, headphones hanging around his neck, clothes which looked very expensive. He was some kind of brooding young cricketer, you know. Third one was very interesting, plain old safari suit, a badge in his neck with ministry of home affairs written on it. And the last one was a middle aged man, long hairs, beard and a saffron coloured gown like…Um, clothes.
Now the first one had just come back from performing some kind of complicated procedure on a patient suffering from some kind of brain cancer. He was apparently one of the most respected neurosurgeon in India. Well, in any case, he went for one of those shuttle buses that run between domestic terminal and metro station, right.
For the young star, there was a car waiting, I guess one of those very common cars, middle class families generally buy. For the government employee came an ambassador, the official car for everything bureaucratic. Now I shit you not, out came a BMW, and guess who sat on that.” As soon as I finished telling that little story, both of us burst into laughter.
“You know once I raised my hairs, you know what my father said, should I buy you some bangles too,” I added, more of an after-thought than a statement.
“Your father was looking for you,” Radhika said, and just a simple line ended up desiccating the smile of my face.
“I’ll go and meet him,” I said and left to take the stairs for my father’s room.
Now, some of you might end up judging Radhika for the fact that she called, “My father,” and not father. Before you do, let me simply say this, she didn’t called him father because I’d asked her not to.
My mother died almost two years back. My father was still alive, drinking and abusing. What kind of justice was that? You are wondering right now, aren’t you my silent friend, whether I am a good son. If you ask this question to anyone who ever knew my family, they all will tell you the same thing that I was never a good son. He was a drunk, abusive man who never had a reason not to drink or beat my mother. But as we have already established, in this society of patriarchy, I’m the asshole.
For all his fault, I still loved my father. It’s twisted but our morals are anything but twisted. Love makes us irrational. My father had his faults, God knows how much I hate him, but I understand him, simply because I love him. Irrational reasoning. No, even if we start over, forgetting everything, would that really change the end? Are you forgetting that we are still the same people?
Admitting defeat, facing a horrible truth, the fact that we are not God. As humans we have the tendency to believe, to feel that we are all that is to this world, that we are the one who are at centre of everything… Defeat, a loss, it just makes us face to face with a harsh reality. That it won’t be OK…that we won’t be alright, that we will struggle, we will cry in pain and we will doubt. We will doubt our maker, we will questions the meaning of life because we will hope knowing that will somehow comfort our little pathetic life.
Every time I went to my father’s room, that’s exactly how I use to feel. Utterly defeated by life.
If you enter his room, all you will find are bottles of whiskey lying on the shelf. I won’t name the company because that might leave me open for a defamatory lawsuit. And we don’t want an asshole like me to defame the God’s drink, a drink which helps mankind achieve its great potential.
No warning on any bottle has ever said, drinking alcohol makes you an asshole.
People find spirituality for strangest reasons. Alcoholics often end up finding sobriety in God’s name. There are lies that we tell ourselves and then there are truths, which are secrets we don’t speak. To me, God is one lie on which entire humanity exists. I wish I could tell you there is a greater meaning to life, I wish I could tell you we exist for some great reason but none of that can change simple facts, we exist by pure randomness and we were born out of complete chaos.
We need God, we need a meaning because without meaning, we feel life is nothing more than an endless drag, a blip on the timeline of existence. And I believe that’s what raises the need for divinity, a fear of almighty, because if there is no god, why do we exist. That’s one question we don’t want to answer, that’s a thought we don’t want to ponder, we are being of menial existence and these thoughts are so conflicting, we cannot fathom them because they raise a doubt on our existence.
Divinity is something I cannot explain, because for me, divinity still has shadows of human greed. People do lots of things in his name, some are downright degrading to humanity, some are plain stupid, some make sense and some, the one for he really matters, feed the starving, they are the answer for hunger and that’s in his true name. As a species with a conscious mind it’s our responsibility to separate the preachers from the sinners.
We truly are nothing more than some ungrateful children. The day you figure out divinity, let me know, because for me it’s still a mystery. Hindus have issues with Muslims, Christians have issues with Muslims and whatnot. I might get some facts wrong here and there, and I admit it, after all I’m just human not God but does it justifies spilling all the innocent blood in so many holy wars. History is filled with them, wars for the greater cause, wars in name of God. What a big bloated statement, “Wars in name of God.”
“Were you looking for me?” I called out to my father as I entered his room.
“Is that how you are supposed to greet your elders?” My father asked, lying on his bed with a glass and a bottle of whiskey on the table.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t knew we had royalties among us. What do you want father?” I asked, trying to finish the conversation as soon as I possibly could had.
“You can atleast show me some respect, I just don’t know why you hate me so much.”
“Being respected and being feared are not the same thing father. You’ll never understand that and I do not have any need to clarify that for you. After all I’m your son, how could I ever know more than you?”
My silent friend, what makes a great father? You ask hundred different souls that very same question and I bet you, you won’t find the same statement from two of them. We all believe in different ideas, different beliefs and that what makes us who we are. We all have our own identity.
One thing I think that maybe everyone could agree on is the idea of communication, because let’s be honest we all don’t have mind readers, we can never know what the other person is thinking and that’s where it becomes important to communicate, to exactly lay out the bare essentials of your identity. We all hope that the person standing in front of us can read our thoughts, that they can understand every word we want to say without us even saying it. We hope so because we are all afraid to admit to our flaws, we all are scared that the raw truth of our identity will push them away.
The reason we struggle with our kids is not because of the generation gap, no I don’t believe in that idea one bit, it’s because we are not able to communicate with our kids. There’s a reason why kids feel more comfortable with their friends, because they can talk about the same issues, because let’s be honest, most of the issues kids face are pretty much universal, acne, girlfriends, boyfriends, crushes and whatnot.
Our kids aren’t gonna come to us and straight away say, hey dad, I am a little bit curious about sex. Hell, if you’re guy, you aren’t gonna be a little curious about sex, you will be out of your hoops for it. But the point is, we as parents feel freaked out by the question.
We do strange things for the people we love. We lie to them, we lie for them. There may be some bumps along the way, but we never stop wanting the best for them. That’s what makes it such a tough job but kind of the best job in the world. Atleast that’s what I believe.