Sharad Chandra Narang: My father lived a life which I remember both with lots of love and perhaps a tinch of anger. I guess that is a typical relationship we have with our father who is our best friend and also at times seems as a big obstacle or a threat whose job is to interfere and spoil our ‘personal’ life. Especially when we cross into teens and beyond and ‘know’ better than him and have our own ‘egos’ and desires, which he seems to crush with just one sentence. We have grown up but unfortunately the old man has not ‘aged’ and continues to consider us as his personal property to be protected from the world ‘HIS’ way at all costs. Also to ensure that we follow ‘HIS’ way as he thinks that he still knows the best for us.
And then there also comes a time when as adults (perhaps in middle age and beyond) we look forward, especially in times of distress, to a PAPA/POPE/GOD, someone who can protect and take care of us like the way the old man did in the past when life was simple and could be happier just with a cone of ice cream.
It’s complicated and so is our relationship with our Dad.
Still even till date, I consider as one of my biggest accomplishments in life that despite having such a ‘complicated’ relationship with Taji, I could sense that he was parting ways with us and went back from Canada to India at the right time to be there with him in his last days. I reached on 12th January 2017 and he left us on 16th night/ 17th early morning.
And I was one of the luckiest persons in the world who was alone with his father at the very last moment of his ‘this’ life, hold his hand, feel the last warmth and caress from his finger telling me that he will continue to be there for me if I look inside me. I remember how while pressing my fingers mildy, he took the last sip of water from his closing lips. One moment he was breathing hard. The next he was gone. That memory will stay with me for life (hopefully if I don’t fall into dementia like him or my grandmother in my last days).
He was in deep pain and anguish in the end. “Taji, it is time to go and free yourself from this bondage”, I told him just two days before he left as it was difficult to see him in such a state. “Yes it is and I am ready and prepared”, he said with content and peace, not sadness. I am not making up a single word and it is really important for a father-son/daughter to have an honest relationship which may seem brutal to some. We had one.
We knew each other well and even though I honestly do not remember a SINGLE moment when either of us told each other the three words- ‘I love you’, yet I guess there was no need for that. Perhaps I have expressed my love for him in written and spoken words only after his death.
We don’t celebrate father’s day in our family as it is not an ‘Indian’ tradition to celebrate the festivals of love. Strangely the days we remember the elderly with whom we have parted ways our considered as ‘unholy’ and days of penance/solitude/prayers- the dreaded ‘Shradd’ days when no celebration can take place. I for that matter consider that plain B.S. and don’t do that ever.
I find it odd more so because the death or parting of a living being is the universal truth and rather than mourning the dead, we must celebrate their lives and raise a toast to the times that we spent together. As family, friends and loved ones.
So thank you Taji and I guess I will continue to love you with all your strengths and follies. Perhaps I have become much more like you physically and mentally than I could have ever imagined.
On 20th January 2017, at an event to celebrate his life, I had given my tribute to his life which I am sharing with friends/family in the video below (My tribute starts at about 6th minute of the video).
Sharad Chandra Narang may have been just an ordinary man, an ‘Aam aadmi’ for most. But for me his love and warmth for the family would remain extra-ordinary and I thank him for not just giving an existence to my being but also in helping me build my life, brick by brick with words of guidance. And trying mighty hard to protect me at all times.
This father’s day, I thank the person who in my early life became my ‘second’ best friend (the first will off course be my mother) and whose friendship stayed with me all his life and will continue to light my day in this life.
This father’s day, I also hope to try and be a good father to my children, both human and of other life forms.