What Father's Day means to me (Prof. Sreedevi Krishnan)

Published on 18 June, 2022
 What Father's Day means to me (Prof. Sreedevi Krishnan)

Born and raised in Kottayam, a sleepy town in Kerala, events like Father's day, Mother's Day or Valentine's day, were completely alien to me. It was not until I immigrated to the US, by a quirk of fate, that I found out how religiously Father's Day was celebrated here. I watched with envy how my grandchildren enjoyed planning and celebrating their Dad's day. Right from elementary school, kids here, are trained to make beautiful cards revealing the deepest bond between them and their father. Even though I did not have an opportunity to do that for my father, my childhood was filled with fascinating stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, glorifying fatherhood.

In Ramayana, Rama had to give up his royal luxuries and go into exile with his newly -married wife, Sita, to comply with his father, King Dasaratha's orders. As the story goes, Kaikeyi, Dasaradha's second wife, asked for a boon, granted to her earlier, by the king, and demanded Rama's 14 years' exile, which would lead to her own son, Bharatha, getting the crown.

Similarly, in Mahabharata , Puru had to give up all his youth to his father, Yayati, in exchange for 1000 years of old age- a curse to Yayati from Sage Shukracharya . While all his brothers flatly refused, Puru willingly gave his father, his youth.
In another story, the Pandavas were wandering in the forest, after losing their kingdom. Dharmaputhra felt thirsty and asked Nakula to get water from a nearby pond. Nakula set out,but did not come back. After a while, he sent Sahadeva, who also did not return; the same fate followed the other two brothers, Bhima and Arjuna. A perturbed Dharmaputhra, set out in search of his brothers and was shocked to find all his brothers lying unconscious, by the pond. He then heard a loud voice, demanding the answer to an important question, before he could drink the water from the pond. The voice continued that his brothers had lost consciousness, due to their
incorrect answers. To the impatient Dharmaputhra, the voice asked," Who is the most valuable person in a person's life?"

" No doubt, his father replied Dharmaputhra. In no time, the brothers regained consciousness and were given water to quench their thirst. When I was growing up, my father provided me with exquisitely designed gold ornaments and expensive silk clothing, but he was never physically demonstrative of his love. I also remember
how I would get so tense when he began coaching me for math, just before my exams. My father was a mathematics wizard . Coming from a poor family, he was on a scholarship and he used to make money tutoring math to his own classmates, to meet his expenses. He used to top the list in all his exams and could not believe that he fathered a child who was a miserable failure in math! He would be very impatient with me when he taught me and my mother always had to intervene, very often prematurely ending the coaching session!

I remember a funny incident which happened on the day of my S.S.LC Math final exa. That morning, my poor mother got up early and went to the temple, to do a special Archana . She made one of our maids, carry two pots of water- one pot, she held in her hand while the other on her hip, and asked her to walk toward me, for good luck. It is believed that the sight of a woman carrying pots of water, walking in your direction, is a very good omen, making the trip you set out for, fruitful! Even the other maids in the house, who were of Christian faith, appealed to Virgin Mary and Jesus, for my success! I remember being so tensed up by the atmosphere at home on the morning of the dreaded Math Exam. After dropping me off at the Exam hall, my father said ," Look here, don't play your usual trick of losing your question paper this time. Write down your answers on it. I will be waiting in my office for you, so we can go over it. All the best."

By then, I was a nervous wreck. All my prayers to the numerous Gods and Goddesses and the eerie silence in the enormous exam hall, only added fuel to the fire . Sure enough, I could not complete any question and therefore no answer to be written on my question paper . Tears welled up in my eyes when I left the Exam hall. On my way to my father's office, which was walking distance from the hall , as I was wishing that the earth in front of me, would split and I could disappear into it, as Sita of Ramayana had done, I happened to notice a cow, eating posters that were stuck on the street walls. My feverish brain got the idea of flinging my question paper to the cow, which she gladly chewed ..no...swallowed.. almost instantly! As soon as I reached my father's office, with outstretched hands, my father demanded the question paper. "

Don't tell me you misplaced the question paper, this is your final exam." Without batting an eyelid, I said, " A cow on the street ate my question paper. You can even take a look at the cow from your window...no lies this time." Suddenly, my father's stone heart melted and he laughed out loud. He said, " Don't worry. I will employ a teacher to teach you crocheting and knitting and embroidery. You are not meant for academics!"

Well, now, 65 years later, at the expense of blowing my own trumpet, I must tell you, that I turned out to be the only Indian from the US, who entered the Guinness Book of World Records by crocheting the world's largest blanket as part of the Mother India Crochet Queen team in 2016, beating the record set by the South African Nelson Mandala blanket in 2015! So.. though I have never observed a particular day as Father's Day, there is never a day that goes by, when I don't look back with gratitude, at the role that my father played in my life. The concept of Fathers day or Mother's day is catching up in India, as well. But some of the sons and daughters conveniently forget their duties towards their parents, mercilessly discard them in their old age and send them to old age homes or abandon them in crowded temples
where they are picked up by the Police and admitted in shelters.
Teaching our kids from a young age, to treat our elders with respect and compassion will make their future celebrations of Father's Day and Mother's Day more meaningful.

Mathew Joys 2022-06-18 13:30:57
Well done Prof. Sreedevi Krishnan. Your narration of an innocent girl’s failure to comprehend the intricacies of Maths, but how your loving fathers trust on you eventually prompted you to boast on gaining a Guinness Workd Record on your talents. Only old generation can understand the real value of Fathers’ sacrificial love or mothers’ dedication that guide your life everyday. Proud to be from KOTTAYAM, land of Ls! Best Wishes Sreedevi Krishnan.. Dr. Mathew Joys
Sreedevi 2022-06-18 19:58:34
Thanks Dr Joy Mathews for your encouraging comment .
Dr Sringara Nicklas 2022-06-20 23:53:49
The irony of a seed planted that took root ,sprouted and blossomed 65 years later into an incredible feat that no one could have foreseen! There is no hoopla in India about any day be it father or mother or anything else. Duty is the watch word. What is love ? It is a choice more than a mere emotion : for better or worse !
G. Puthenkurish 2022-06-21 13:50:08
വളരെ ജിജ്ഞാസയോടും താത്പര്യത്തോടെയും വായിച്ച ഒരു ലേഖനമാണിത്. എഴുത്തിലെ സുതാര്യത വളരെ ഇഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടു. താഴെ ഉദ്ധരിച്ച ഭാഗം വായിച്ചപ്പോൾ ഓർമ്മയിൽ വന്നത്, വില്യം വേർഡ്‌സ്‌വർത്തിന്റെ ദി റെയിൻബോ എന്ന ലഘു കവിതയിലെ 'The Child is father of the Man.' എന്ന ഭാഗമാണ് ഓർമ്മയിൽ വന്നത് . കണിശക്കാരനായ കണക്ക്ശാനുമായ പിതാവ് അവസാനം ഒരു കാര്യം തന്റെ കുട്ടിയിൽ നിന്ന് പഠിച്ചു " Don't worry. I will employ a teacher to teach you crocheting and knitting and You are not meant for academics!" എന്നാൽ നിങ്ങൾ അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റ കണക്കു കൂട്ടലുകളെ മുഴുവൻ തെറ്റിച്ചു . അദ്ദേഹം ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ (?) തീർച്ചയായും വെഡ്സ്വർത്തിനോട് ചേർന്ന് പറയുമായിരുന്നു 'The Child is father of the Man.' - A great read. Thanks for sharing the story. The Rainbow My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety. by William Wordsworth
മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക