It is fascinating to see an 85 year old man getting ready to apply for a visa to visit London and be with his grandson. I guess a lot of people will read proactive enthusiasm, yearning to plan, energy to explore, a dive into the spirit of a positively interactive life and many other traits that management pundits talk about. No wonder then that I call my father a big chief of management. Yes, it is true that my father is raring to get into flight mode and go zipping across the continent to learn from the people he has admired since his childhood days spent in Lahore (before the partition, of course).
‘I had a lot of English friends,’ he once told me, ‘not just in my school and college days in Lahore but also in Jhansi.’ Well, he was in the business of entertainment and finally had a cinema to own in Jhansi after a lot of partnerships and working with close relatives for years. I remember him as the man who was forever discussing the day’s strategy with his manager even as he shaved early in the morning. I remember him as the man who hardly ever came home for his lunch but preferred having home-cooked food in his little office in the cinema. I remember him as the man who reached home after the night show was over. ‘This is all professional,’ he told us brothers, ‘it is difficult for me to leave the management of the cinema to others especially when the shows are full.’ We all understood.
This understanding on our part was partly because we were afraid of him as kids. I recollect the day he literally lifted my sniffling and protesting younger brother by his collar, go down two flights of stairs, and hand him over to the school bus driver, saying just three words, ‘School is important!’ He is still a man of few words. He always knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. There have been times when he had to fight to set things right.
The fight with goondas
Yes, my father isn’t the sort who will kowtow to injustice. Let me tell you about what happened in the cinema one night. There were the local ‘dadas’ who were drunk and pushed the usher aside to enter the main hall to see the movie. The usher went straight to my father and told him what had happened. You may not know this, but once the booking office has shut operations after a show has started, a tax statement for the show has to be made. This statement cannot be delayed as the Entertainment Tax Inspector can come any time to check this and tally the number of tickets sold with the people sitting inside. With these three or four bad elements forcing their way in, the statement was literally false… and so my father got up, went in, and dragged them out with help from his ushers. The goondas, predictably, slouched out but after leaving a glaring warning: ‘Dekh lenge!’ (We’ll get even!)
At night after the show the predictable happened. My father and his uncle were way-laid on a lonely stretch and attacked with iron rods. The fight was uneven yet my father managed to bite off a part of one ear of the gang members and also saved themselves from any fatal injury. The noisy street fight woke up a few shopkeepers and the goondas were held captive.
All I’m trying to say is that bowing to unjustified pressure has always been a big ‘NO! NO!’ for him. No wonder then that even my brothers and I do step in whenever there is injustice anywhere. A trait that my father taught me by the way he has lived his life.
Just get up and take action
Well, he certainly is the ‘get up and take action’ father even now… and I know what I am talking about because he is the one who will call the plumber or the electrician or the mason or the carpenter when there is work at home. He is the one who gets up early and goes for his walk after waking up others. He is the one who inspired us with his action during his days with the Lion’s Club and the Masonic club. He is the one who always has some saying in Punjabi for any incident… he is the one who is ready to smile or crack a joke… he is the one who still has his friends dropping in for tea! He tells us, ‘Where is the point in just discussing? If there is a job to be done just get up and take action!’ Remember, he is 85 now.
There is an interesting story behind his getting his passport as well. Jhansi is in UP and we know the way things happen in the State. He had applied for his passport and the waiting had extended well beyond reasonable delay. So he just marched to the local post office and asked the agent, ‘Am I going to get my passport or are you going to wipe that grin off your face?’
The agent was stunned and mumbled, ‘Things are beyond my control sir.’ Saying this he simply handed his fee back. So my father asked my brother to drive him to Kanpur where the regional passport office is. Once there, he marched into the Regional Officer’s room and said, ‘I am in my eighties now and cannot keep visiting your office. Please get my work done and in return I will tell you stories from my days in Lahore.’ The officer was amused at his approach and all formalities were finished that day… of course he kept his promise and did tell her a few of the interesting Lahore tales that his mind is so full of.
Well, as I said, my father is now busy filling the form for a UK visa. He is ready to travel and there is a vital lesson here for us all. When you pick up a project, dive into it with all the enthusiasm that you can muster… and before you know it, you’d have spread positive working vibes to all around you. Look at me… am I not writing about his visa application?
Happy Father’s Day… may your visa and your London visit give us more stories to share. There are always enough reasons to #HugYourDad.
This article was first published on igeniusblog:
18 June 2015