Monday, July 02, 2007

Passing the baton

It was dinnertime. I was home. Dad was seated next to me, sunk in his seat servicing his morsels religiously as usual. He was quiet. I was indulged in separating the fish from the bones on my plate.

Mom was standing next to me, looking over the two of us. She's always quiet these days, ever since I've been living away from them as a paying guest, close to my office. That's about two hours away from home.

Dad and me don't talk much during dinner. I'm not the talkative types and although he is, over a period of time, he's realized that I'm not the best audience for him. He's a thorough intellectual, well-read and very knowledgeable. He's 58, a month away from retirement. And he's worried. After 38 years of service, he would no longer be a contributor to the family's income. Mom had told me this over lunch. Dad's been mum about it. He's serving a notice period at work already. In 30 days, it'll all be over.

Maybe he's wondering what life's got for him, after this. He's passionate about script-writing and theatre, especially Bengali theatre. I'd like to believe that he'll follow his passions wholeheartedly once he gets done with work. Presently he's a mechanical engineer. He still wants to work, it seems.

Although we weren't talking over our meal, I could feel a deep message emanating from him. I could feel his eyes on me. I didn't make eye contact and it seemed he had finished eating. But I could feel eyes on me. Both mom and dad. Its not everyday that they get to see their son eating in front of them and so they were making the best of it. Or so it seemed. It lasted for about 3 minutes.

Within those three minutes, I felt a world turning around. A father hanging up his boots with caution. A wife acknowledging his effort. A mother hopeful over her son's future. And a father emotionally passing over the baton to his son.

Its been a long journey. 21 years of bringing up a son. A naughty son - who broke car windows amidst games of lagori, who stole tomatoes from the fridge, who hid his mother's shoes so that she wouldn't take him to school. A geeky son - who demanded a new story book every week. A truant son - who ran away from home at the age of 13, only to be found by cops and handed over. A failed son - who found his calling in conceptualizing film stories by bunking classes for the cinema halls.

The tide turned slowly, though. They were proud when I salvaged some pride after I almost topped school in my boards. Bad luck struck, though after the high school boards. I found my calling in a new course they had no clue about. Three nervous years passed, wherein the son was indulging in activities they generally were not informed about.

But I knew the future looked bright, atleast on the career front. I made new friends, lost many on the way. Mom and dad have been protective, but not interfering. Always cautious and full of advise. "Don't repeat the mistakes which I did," said Dad.

I did have some issues though - I wasn't given pocket money and I had to constantly ask for it. I was not allowed for trips and participation in inter-school sports. But if its the end which defines the means, then I'd say, they were right. They always are. They had a sense of achievement when I graduated with distinction, topping my college in the journalism. Today, an eventful upbringing process has reached a level of maturity today. When I look at them, it shows in their eyes. I want to thank them and congratulate them.

They always say, "When you'll become a parent, you'll know how difficult it is."
Its so goddamn true. I'm 21 today, working for a news-portal and at a very delicate stage of my career. This is the period which will define the course of my future growth and destiny.

And this is the period, where I'll become more responsible than I ever was. Its because the baton has been handed over.

13 comments:

WiseAss said...

Congratulations, you belong to the select few who have parents who care enough to pass on the baton...the baton of knowledge, the baton of their considerable experience, the baton of understanding...
Congratulations also for valuing that gift that has now been handed over to you...so many kids don't and hence don't feel the burden (and the joy) of responsibility...
And congratulations for understanding that even your parents, at their age, have the power to dream for their son and for themselves, though the baton has now officially been passed.

Rubber Soul said...

Till I started working, I never realised what it took to put bread on my table and have enough to butter it. Now that I do, I am amazed at how my parents have done so, consistently, for so many years. I love, respect and understand them more than ever before.

My family's highly disfunctional and we've had a rotten time together. We still wear scars of all the wars we've waged against one another and there are some wounds that will never heal. But today, I'm grateful for all that I have received, whether I asked for it or not. There are still cracks in the wall and not much will last for long. But today, I know that it takes so much compromise to fulfill the promises we make to the ones we love. And promises made to a family can be chains that imprison or ties that bind.

With every year that passes, my parents try to hold on to me, their errant daughter. And I, I move forth and back, staying within reach but out of their grasp.
I guess that's what it feels like when, at the end of the day, you realise, that there is still an umbilical cord attached, one that will never snap.

Neha said...

All d best as u realize the importance and responsiblities that follow along with the baton. may u fulfill all your dreams as well as of ur parents.

As i write this, i realize the importance and responsibilty coming my way as the baton is yet to b passed........

Rajarshi Nath said...

I strongly believe that more than a businessman, a beggar values his money. What I’m trying to come at is that, I can experience this feeling better than my Dearest Pal – Arco. I come from a semi broken home and through this mail I get to feel happy for him, as this poignant event has left a positive impact in his mind. I believed Arcopol is the best one to transform actions into words. The magnitude of the situation was so brawn, that he surely must have fallen short of words to describe this feeling. I need to prove it to my bro how efficiently this 4 footer can stand by that 6 footer. All I am waiting for is an opportunity where I can add some ease in his life.
Dude Congratlations on your accomplishment. Run the show. And for uncle… “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow … He’s a Jolly good fellow ”
May God Bless Him !!!
Cheers !!

Doctor Rick said...

Sort of weird reading your piece and feeling like I can identify with both you and your father. I remember my teenage angst and parent-child conflicts with great clarity. Now that I'm older and a father, I understand what care and sacrifice they made in order to raise me. You already see this in your parents.

Horus said...

before you know, you will start feeling it.. the weight of it. Its not just the responsibility; it has all their dreams, their dependense, their aspirations and their love. Its amazing to see a man, whom while growing up, we have seen as the authority figure starts depending and listening to you - how they start looking up to you, instead of the other way round.

Personally I have seen them to be happy as long as they are involved in something; wether its work or their passion. As long as they feel that they still have something to contribute - they feel needed and happy. The feeling that I am no longer needed and my role is over is a very very bad feeling- I hope you understand what I am saying.. if just by any way, any which way - we can still make them feel that they are still important, it makes the life easier for them...

dee... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raregenome said...

It is said that the best conversations are those which are conveyed even without speaking those words.
it is wonderful to learn that a lanky boy who is intelligent enough to tackle his career understood his father's unspoken words and have bravely accepted the weigh of his parents.
21-working-taking up responsibility..sounds good but its important that this sound good factor transforms into a beautiful hym which your parents can sit back and enjoy.

Kapil said...

You know Arco, i'm happy about the way you have gone about realising the situation & had the courage & the art to put it all down in words... though i'm sure words can hardly express what you felt, but then i'm really happy that you DID write about it... Its emotionally difficult to be in this phase, i know... because i've been there... felt the passing of the baton & i'd like to think i've taken it well... but yes, you do feel greatly indebted for the effort your parents have taken to bring you this far.. from where you can 'take charge' of your life & give/find a new direction to life.
To fit into dada's shoe feels awkward, because you'd feel its a great honour & a huge huge responsibility at the same time...
Congrats dude, for realizing it in time.... & good luck to you.
Cheers.

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Se você quiser linkar meu blog no seu eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. (If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. If he will be possible add my blog in your blogroll I thankful, bye friend).

Nazim Khan said...

Hey, congrats...
Wishing you all the best for you and your parents...
Your story really touched me. And that's because of the similarity between yours and mine. Same age, same field, parents similarly having huge expectations from you -- whilst you surprise occasionally, disappoint frequently -- and then stand at this stage of life...
Blog more often...
P.S.: A google search for Prof Ravindranath brought me here, the institution in journalism, who taught us last year in BMM

Hari Chakyar said...

i just saw u explain to me those 3 minutes.

Jaswandi said...

I knew this is you!
i got this post as an email!
after reading it.. ek zatake me samajha that this is arco!
man too good!

i cannot write like u .. but we are going thru the same phase!