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.