Remembering Pappa

Me and Dad
Pappa’s first bike (An Enfield, I think)

I am not sure, if fahers and sons are supposed to share moments of intimacy  or do the mind meld thing. What I mean by that is conversational intimacy, or in some cases an extra hug, a shoulder tap, or a longing look.

I wonder because, I never shared that with my father. He was rather predisposed to formality. I guess this has more to do with British civility, a legacy from the past. My grand father was the same with my father, atleast that’s what Pappa told me. He was very strict with my father.

I remeber he told me once how he got punished when he was young. He was supposed to receive 7 beatings and he was supposed to stay in a tight circle. If he stepped outside the circle when he was getting punished, he would get an extra seven beating every time he stepped outside of the circle. That day he got beaten ( usually this would mean, he was struck below the knees, if everything went well) with a cane 47 times. He fell sick that day with high fever. I guess he must have been shocked both mentally and physically.  The sad thing was, this was all done in good gesture. Pappa was my grandfather’s favourite child amoung his 8 children ( First born son). So it was not easy on my grandfather. He was by my dad’s bed side the entire time, until get got well. But that’s how life was then. My grandfather was a school teacher and he always made sure that he was my pappa’s class teacher. So, when Pappa got promoted each year to the next grade, my grandfather would be overseeing him (class teacher). Normally this would be a good thing, since pappa should have gotten some extra attention. But all of the extra attention that he got was in terms of extra punishment. In order to make sure that my grand father was impartial, my father got an extra dose of punishment every time he was naughty.

Grand father posing
A dated image of my granddad

You would think that my father would have grown up to be a scared little boy. but he was anything but a scared little boy, he admitted that he was a naughty little rascal. He told me that once he kicked some other boy on the face. Another time , he pushed a boy of a tree and the boy broke his leg.  He gave and he received in equal measure.

Part of the reason my grand father loved Pappa more was, because he was a chronic asthmatic when he was small

the whole family
Pappa, third from the left (2nd row)

Which meant that he needed lots more extra attention and lots more sympathy.

Getting back to my original thought of not being able to share intimacy with Pappa, I have to reconcile that he did share life stories and such with me. It’s just that, I never had a truly adult conversation with him. May be that is not normal.

He had this insane death stares. I could never tell what he was thinking, was he tryieng to intimidate me, or was it a challenge? I always diverted my eyes and looked elsewhere.  Any more would be intimidating or disrespectfull.

I know he cared about me… a lot, but I know that I never made him happy or gave him a chance to be proud of me. The last years of his life was filled with regret, because he saw me diminishing for the worse.  But he had hope, he always said that I was not destined to fail. That all of it was a temporary setback. He knew that everything would work out, even if he was there not to witness it.  Pappa had an uncanny ability to predict the future. He was able to predict the day that he would die.  He was off by a day, but I am not sure if that counts, because he lost his consciousness a day or two before he died.

we don't have any pics of my dad smiling

I like to think that he is happy where he is. He was a commited christian, who stood firm in his beleifs.


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