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In this deeply personal essay, the writer talks about the legacy of goodness her childhood left for her.
On the farthest of North-East -India lie a very sleepy town, it was so sleepy that time stuck itself to the roofs of the houses to rest. Not many people went in and out of it. People walked in the same rhythm and celebrated the same festival. However there are so many humane stories that wove itself around it.
Daddy was a lawyer in the district court and one of the best in his profession. But when he could have made money he decided something else. He made the two parties who are fighting come into a compromise. In gist Daddy was called the “compromise lawyer.” In this process Daddy lost money which he could have earned, but he said if he fought the cases, the poor would become poorer. So he refused to drag them to the legal battle. That was my father; the first man in my life, my hero.
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In our town, like everywhere beggars had a special functioning in the society. I remember, there was a leper whom no one entertained but every Sunday he would come to our porch. Daddy would be the only man who would put out food to him. When I was a little girl, these things seemed so natural to my world. People would come to our house and after meeting Daddy they would touch his feet. Daddy felt shy, I guess. But to a little girl, I thought if you are a lawyer people invariably touched your feet.
In the whole town we were one of the very few people who had a car then. We had a grey Ambassador. I can remember Dad driving multiple people to the hospital when needed. That was Daddy. I still remember when there would be flood in the nearby areas, he would put carpets and pillows in our long veranda, and a lot of people took shelter at night.
Dad had a fatal car accident when I was eleven. Life was hard after that, I guess. But Maa, put up through all. The lessons on kindness were still not over. Every Saturday, when I would be back from home, she would invariably put a bag of home grown vegetables on my bicycle. It was my duty to go to people who had less in life and distribute. In gist Maa made sure that we never forgot the art of giving.
I still remember it was a summer afternoon, Maa was in the kitchen. A lady just came to our home told her something; Maa gave her, a five hundred rupees note (that was all the money we had for the day). Fifteen years passed, I forgot all about it; it was just a few days back Maa told me what happened. The lady’s husband died, leaving nothing much to her. It was 6 months she was unable to pay the school fees of her son. The school was about to put her son off the register. Maa paid his school fees with that five hundred rupees for two months. After that the lady who borrowed the money started doing small scale business and was able to pay for her son’s education. And just a few days back, the son became an officer in the Indian Postal Service. She did come to tell my mother, had she not paid the fees the son would not have become, what he is today.
When Dad was around, he would invariably take all his daughters for a car ride in the town. Dad had a friend called Khan Chacha who sold lottery tickets in the town. Whenever we reached at his makeshift shop Dad would invariably stop and ask him if all was well. He always had a strong bond with him. When Maa was sick and needed blood, none of the blood sample matched. It was finally Khan Chacha’s blood that matched. Had it not for Khan Chacha my mother would not have been with us today. We shall always owe that debt to him.
Thus, in such little ways Maa and Dad left legacies for their children. Maa turns 60 this year. Just spoke to her, yes she been telling me that our maid’s daughters need to go to college. They will pass school this year. But all her daughter wants is to get married. So that is Maa scheming to send the maid’s daughter to college and what scholarship will be available.
My brother is almost a 24-year-old handsome man now. He is a lawyer practicing in a law firm. I was going through his facebook profile; someone left him a note on his wall thanking him for his help and support through her father’s operation. That little girl also left prayers for our family too. I smiled, I guess that would make Maa proud and somewhere up between the clouds and God, Dad must be smiling, knowing he left a legacy that has not died.
Cover image via Shutterstock
Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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