(Dearest Papa Mummy, and me, sitting in the Vrindavan Gardens near Mysore, 1996)
It was just 7 am on Sunday and our Papa crooned a song sung by Manna Dey, as a wake-up call, when he entered our room.
“Tu pyar ka saagar hai (2)
teri ek boond ke pyaase hum (2)
Lauta jo diya tumne (2)
chale jayenge jahaan se hum (2)
Tu pyar ka… “
This melodious song is from the film Seema (1955), filmed by the actor Balraj Sahni, also starring Nutan.
My younger brother Sandeep and I, with our single beds at the different corners of the shared room, would pull up the bed sheet covering our heads, as soon as we heard him singing. We both only wished to sleep for some more time, at least till 8 o’clock. Otherwise, on the weekdays we had to get up by 6 am to attend our school at 7 am.
But Papa would not stop singing until we got up from our beds. He opened the windows wide, to let the sunlight and the fresh air enter the room. But we tossed over for a few more minutes, before reluctantly waking up. Actually, we enjoyed listening to him in his soothing voice.
“Chalo beta jaldi taiyyar ho jaao… today we will go to the dam, spend an hour or so there, and then to the market.”
Pleased to see us awake, he told us and left the room with a smile. Smiling back, I was the first one to go to the bathroom. While Sandeep still sat drowsily in his bed.
For about eight years Papa worked in a steel plant located remotely in Jharkhand, where Sandeep and I have done a major part of our schooling. So, the families living in the plant’s residential locality, for all their basic needs had to go to the big markets. And they were in the townships (of Ranchi and Patratu) located quite far away, reachable within one to two hours drive.
(Mummy, Sandeep, and me, with our car, in the backdrop of the Patratu dam, 1983)
I used to be very happy on those Sundays when Papa took us to those markets. It was more of a fun-filled long drive, back and forth. I must add that he expertly drove his first car, the 1969 model FIAT car, which he had bought sometime in the late seventies decade.
He took care of his car with utmost devotion, whether it was related to its cleaning from outside to inside, or regarding the maintenance of the engine and all the valuable parts, from the bonnet to the tyres. Even the slightest bit of a sound coming from any corner of the moving car would never go unnoticed to his attentive ears, and so would the slightest of a scratch anywhere in the car to his watchful eyes.
Apart from driving, Papa was also very fond of photography. On the way to the township, he always used to stop by a vast dam, or at some picturesque points to capture the beauty of nature. He had a huge collection of snaps taken three to four decades ago.
No family function was complete without getting clicked by his camera. Even during our annual holiday trip anywhere, we (Sandeep, Mummy, and I) used to get exhausted posing for him, at the garden, zoo, temple, mountain, or any historical site, but he never got tired of taking our snaps.
(Mummy, Sandeep and me, in front of Tipu Sultan’s Palace Garden, Mysore 1996)
Now, how can I forget Papa’s taste for old film songs? Here too he had hoards of a collection of cassettes, showcasing the hit films from the fifties to the sixties. He used to insert a cassette in the tape recorder to enjoy the music, mostly in the mornings.
His favorite actor was Raj Kapoor and his film Shree 420 (1955), whose two songs he often used to keep humming at home. He used to look fondly at Mummy, who also would sing along with him sometimes, much to my amusement.
“Pyaar hua iqraar hua hai,
pyaar se phir kyun darta hai dil (2)”
“Ramaiya vastavaiya (2)
maine dil tujhko diya (2)
ho, ramaiya vastavaiya… “
Oh, I cherish those sweet old days even now. Both my parents sang well enough, but only for each other, and not before any outsiders. Therefore, Sandeep and I were their only audience, clapping for each song.
Post my marriage, just as I missed my parents’ singing session, they too missed my encouragement, and gradually stopped singing. But they had inculcated a habit of writing letters in me. So, they and I exchanged lengthy letters to each other, describing our lives and philosophy, instead of talking on the telephone.
Sadly, just five years after my marriage, due to a chronic lung infection and asthmatic attack, my beloved Mummy left for the heavenly abode, on 26th January 2003.
(With parents during Diwali Nov.1997, four months before my marriage)
To fill the void left by her demise, Papa now turned to listening to just devotional songs. He bought a new house in the same city I live in, Raipur (four hours drive from our ancestral village). So that he could be close to me and his only granddaughter, my daughter Disha who was just three years old then.
And whenever I visited his home along with Disha, he would lovingly pick her up in his arms. And gave us a very warm welcome making full arrangements for our favorite snacks, and the meals, by hiring a cook at his home, as long as we stayed there. He used to instruct his maid to thoroughly clean up the house and make our room ready for relaxation.
After that he used to drive us to a nearby garden or a Mall, to enjoy the evening. He would either buy toys, games, dresses, or footwear for Disha, as long as she was a young kid. He also would buy chocolates for her and a saree for me (only during the festival of Teej), to be given before I left for my sasuraal.
In short, Papa single-handedly took up the role of a father and a mother as well, leaving no stone unturned in fulfilling his duties towards his daughter’s maayka.
That’s why I have chosen and dedicated a song exclusively for him, which is also very close to his heart. It’s a song from the film Main Chup Rahungi (1962), sung by Lata Mangeshkar, starring Sunil Dutt and Meena Kumari. He used to play this song daily in the morning, along with the other devotional songs, on his CD player. That’s how we bonded over this song, which even time can never erase.
“Tumhi ho mata pita tum hi ho,
tum hi ho bandhu sakha tum hi ho. (2)
Tum hi ho saathi tum hi sahare,
koi na apna siva tumhare,
tum hi ho naiya tum hi khevaiya,
tum hi ho bandhu sakha tum hi ho…”
(You are mother, you are father,
you are brother, and you are a friend.
You are a partner, and you are a supporter, there’s none for us except you,
you are a boat, and you are the rower,
you are a brother, and you are a friendâ€¦)
The translation of the above song.
As I wrote this paragraph of the song, I felt a lump forming in my throat. Countless memories of my dearest Papa ran in front of my eyes, who lovingly supported me all his life, even after Mummy was no more. I never got a chance to pay him back for his selfless services. I wish I could have served him when he was extremely ill and was with Sandeep who lives in Pune.
In 2017, at the age of 75, Papa was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. On 21st October 2017, he too left for the heavenly abode, to rest along with dearest Mummy.
Following are the songs I have mentioned in this blog, with the video links inserted in them.