Shelling peanuts from their pods and eating them raw, the sight of a sprawling golf course, the poster of superman, fun n frolic in swimming pools, long walks hand in hand, rides in the dhow and the smell of the salty sea breeze. What could these random things possibly have in common?
These images are now symbols of a cherished memory that my mind’s eye conjures up again and again, as if in an attempt to relive a bygone era. Those sights and sounds can never pass me by without reminding me of my Baba – my father – the man I loved to impress and who in turn always rose to the occasion by never failing to get impressed.
The peanut shells would be all over the house – testimony to the countless sessions of shelling them together as a family – chattering away on everything under the sun, the adults over several mugs of beer and the kids with the ubiquitous limca or fanta. Baba would pull everyone’s leg and our home would ring with laughter and merrymaking.
The sight of a golf course would make his eyes light up with joy – never mind if he had just played a round of 18 holes that very morning. Every game would be followed by a stroke by stroke account of shots that he had hit bang on target and those that he missed completely – with a childlike joy and the innocent belief that everyone around him was listening as passionately as he was recounting.
It was he who taught me and all the kids in the neighbourhood to swim. But I wanted to feel special – as he was my father – so I made up a game- ‘Superman and his Supergirl’ where we would swim together arm in arm, striking the classic Superman pose in the water , pretending to be flying high up in the sky.
Then there was this ritual that we religiously followed every night after dinner during my childhood years – I must have been 9 or ten years old. He would drive us to the edge of a pier where he would park the car and we would go for a long walk hand in hand on a narrow wall – just wide enough for two people. It was an unwritten rule that I was to tell him a new story every evening. I would take great care in choosing what I thought he would like, so it spurred me on to read voraciously just to be able to make it as interesting as I could. He was a discerning listener and would interrupt me by adding new angles to the story, and by asking me questions that whetted my appetite for debates and discussions.
His love for the sea saw us through innumerable dhow trips on the high seas – when once again I would imagine (thanks to the countless Enid Blyton adventure sagas) that we were on an adventure out to catch pirates and retrieve long lost treasure lying deep down at the bottom of the ocean.
Life goes on I guess, reducing everything to a dreamy memory as the pages of Time turn yellow. What remains are vestiges of conversations, the sight of familiar objects that evoke the same feelings for a fleeting instant.
And there are those precious moments from the past that live on to nourish your present. The joyful and wistful expression at my wedding as the father of the bride, the immense pride on having become a grandfather and then a few years later, some of his last words to me “I know you’ll always do well whatever you do, wherever you go. ”
Priceless last words that I cling on to with my heart and soul, with a promise to myself to never let him down.
A chain of kindness – another post dedicated to my father