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My father is a wizard; not just of maths, but he made us feel that we were the brightest children on earth and could achieve anything we laid our eyes on.
The most vivid memory I have with my father is that of sitting in the lawn of our Government provided residence in Allahabad, under the garden umbrella, in the warm winter sun, munching on hot pakoras and learning differentiation and integration.
My dad retired from IAS, but he is a math wizard. I think he is not just a math wizard but a wizard in general, for he has always made everything happen for me and gone to any length he could to ensure there is always a smile on my face.
We are two siblings – my elder brother and me. He has changed our nappies, given us baths as babies, combed our hair, readied us for school. He was the one who corrected our homework, drove us to tuitions and patiently sat outside while we learnt.
While my mother was studying for her master’s in Gynaecology and my brother and I were primary students, we remember bringing dinner for her on the days she was assigned night duties. In the process, the three of us had all the fun we could. Not for a day did he let us miss her presence.
He ensured that we realized that eating food together as a family is more important than how it tastes or whether it is hot or cold. I don’t remember a single meal that he has ever complained about.
I remember him handing me the keys to his Fiat car when I was barely 15. With my foot on the accelerator and him by my side, I learnt to make ‘figure eights’ in open playgrounds. He was the proudest when I received my driver’s license.
He made us feel that we were the brightest children on earth and could achieve anything we laid our eyes on. His disappointments never took the form of scolding, and he encouraged us to self-assess and prepare for option B.
While I went on to study engineering (since he did that too) at the age of 17, he went with me to get me settled and with tears in his eyes, waved goodbye. He didn’t forget to remind me that having fun was as important as attending classes, though.
He imbibed in us the values of punctuality, being responsible and responsive, and our greatest love, books. Our house was always flooded with them and he kept adding new ones whenever he travelled. He sneakily allowed us to pick up all the comic books we could lay our hands on from the Wheeler stores at railway stations. He also made us travel and see as much of India as we could while we were growing up.
He has always trusted my judgements – whether it was me wanting to re-enrol in college and pursue psychology at the age of 28 or wanting to get married to my now-husband. He enveloped him in his love and warmth like he was always a part of us.
If anyone deserves credit for my PhD it is him. Not only did he keep a track of all the notifications and formalities, but he also ensured that while I wrote exams, made presentations, and prepare my dissertation that my children were well entertained and loved.
When my children came into the world, his heart grew several times bigger to accommodate all of us. If I thought he loved me the most, he loves my children even more – if that amount was even possible!
He has changed their nappies, given them baths as babies, combed their hair, readied them for school – whenever he is staying with us.
To date, he sends us math questions and puzzles to solve. He challenges not just us siblings but our children as well. And when he sits with them to teach long division, I only hope they get to learn differentiation and integration from him as well. For, as I mentioned, he is not just a math wizard but a wizard in general and we want our lives to be touched by his magic forever.
Images source: the author
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