This picture with my father is about a year old, a year before he would breathe his last on November 2nd 2014. He was recovering after being in the ICU for 10 days above and here he is happily displaying his tattoo that he stood in line for, along with the kids at my daughter’s birthday party. A man of immense willpower, he lived his life without fear. Two of his favorite songs are those composed by Rabindranath Tagore. The first is fairly well known.
1. Jodi tor daak sune …. Ekla Cholo re. This song became very popular after Amitabh Bachhan sang it. Here is a link in case you haven’t.
I found the original English translation on (http://www.masterofearth.info/my_philosophy.html)
2. Aami bhoy korbo naa– It means “I shall not be afraid”. We heard this song since we were kids and remember it the way he used to sing it- peppy and full of life. The song translated by Anjan Ganguly is below
I shall not be afraid. I shall not die, every now and then, before death. To encounter storm while at sail is a routine, I shall not start crying frustrated. To uphold head high, I must exercise the challenge Selecting the easier way, a mess is not my intention. I shall follow the simple route corresponding to my belief, I shall not hide at the corner when encountered with danger. Translated by Anjan Ganguly
I thought he lived his life like this song and passed on that fearlessness to me as well.
I found a wonderful version of this song on itunes by the students of Niva Ananda Vidhyalaya. Here is another one by Mita Kundu
Clearly his death was rather sudden and unexpected and brought in a lot of grief to the family as he played a rather important role in our lives. But what brought tears to my eyes was how much of a difference he had made to so many people around the globe- After his death came emails, phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages and even letters about how he had made a difference to their lives. There are so many stories of his mentoring students, inspiring entrepreneurs, inspiring women, being a crusader for society for issues like untouchability etc. I was inspired all over again by his life, even in his absence listening to all of these stories.
My dad lived a rather simple life; most people who knew him remember that he always wore khadi clothes; had a beard from when I remember him and always looked older than he was. But he was like a child when it came to innovation or a game- he was experimenting even a few days before he went to the hospital and believed he could tackle large problems and he did.
When it came to health he was extremely disciplined and ensured that he ate right and enjoyed salads, oatmeal and soups and his famous ‘ubling‘ ( boiled veggies). He exercised regularly and as much as he could. Of course, there was a lot of wrong, he had done in his childhood and youth regarding food, but he ensured that he would change that and let us all know what that meant. True, we had inherited some bad genes from our ancestors, but if we were careful, we could change that. And if we could create a revolution about knowledge about ourselves and create habits that were healthier, the world would be a better place. He was one of my first customers for Mapmygenome. He read many books on health and discussed them with me.
I can write many pages about him, but will stop with a post of mine I wrote about him a day after his death.
Is 42 the answer?
Yesterday I got the call that everyone dreads. My dad, Prof HN Acharya, had passed away in a hospital ICU. And I wasn’t by his side.
2 months ago when I last saw my dad, he waited for my arrival anxiously. During the 6 hour journey from Jaipur to Bikaner, I received 15 calls from him asking me where I was. When I finally got home, he was outside walking and waiting for me along with my mom, frail but with the huge welcome and love that he always had.
Till his last day, he believed that he could do the impossible. He was a scientist all his life, but he had an itch to do more. After his active career in science, he wanted to do so much more. He created plans for companies in solar energy as he believed in it passionately, rebuild parts of the house, wrote a book that is almost complete and did more things that kept his mind busy in spite of health not being on his side. He smiled that he was a bionic man with a pacemaker, hearing aid, eye surgery and more. His sense of humor has been as contagious as his often mischievous smile. A smile that you could see when he made up songs to compete in a game like antakshari, or when he had made a new product like tooth-powder from rice husk which was terrible and we were all guinea pigs for his experiments.
As a child, I thought I had everything I needed- what we all needed to do was to do something bigger than that in our lives. I grew up with toys that were not in shades of pink that girls are mostly subject to. I grew up believing that electronics, science projects, books were cool. And I continue to believe that. Debate was encouraged and it was ok to make mistakes. We all shared household tasks and were even paid for them. He encouraged me to want to earn money and allowed us to think creatively.
He molded us in ways that most parents don’t- and it must have been difficult. I owe him what I value the most – my confidence.
A few years ago, I was visiting my sister in Los Angeles while my parents were with her. My sister was expecting her first baby and was preoccupied. I had a meeting to attend and needed to take a train. My dad insisted that he drop me to the train station. When I responded that I travel across the world alone, he had an answer that I could not refute- that I was still his little daughter. I am now 42 and I no longer have him say that I am his little daughter. Perhaps the answer is in growing up … Or not… Like him.