Small Town

August 5

I miss my father a lot. These days when I look into the mirror it’s as if I see him – the same eyes, slightly tired because he didn’t sleep too well. Nor do I. But wait, is there also a hint of a twinkle? 
I catch myself reacting in the same way to chance acquaintances, to a news item. That laugh – was it mine? Or did I just hear Pappa now? My cousin says she can hear his tone in my voice, the inflexion, the accent of certain words, the way I phrase something. 
There are other things, too. I never stuff money into my purse. The notes are all arranged flat, in order. Coins go into a particular pocket. I don’t take out time for it. I do it naturally, just as he used to. 
People who know me say they enjoy my sense of humour, and it’s a fact that my classes often used to echo with laughter. Again this comes naturally ; nothing rehearsed. And as I grow older I notice I can laugh at myself easily, reminding me of the way he used to poke fun at himself.
When I peel fruits, specially his favourite, I look down at my left hand holding the mango firmly and the sure strokes of the knife in my right hand, and I am confused. When did this happen? When did his warm brown strong hands turn into mine? It is a very reassuring feeling. He lives on in me, and that is how I shall live on, too, I suppose. 
He was a self-made man, who never tom-tommed the fact. In childhood I had no idea of his humble beginnings , the changes he brought about in his life, the difficulties he must have faced. With no godfather, armed only with confidence in his abilities, this man from Gokarn walked his way from the village school to college to a job and earned respect for his skills. My brother and I grew up with all the facilities we needed , never realising that our education, the bungalow, the car and the trips in it were not something he had been born to. 
He was always very proud of whatever his wife and children wrote. He did not write stories but the letters he wrote were nothing short of superlative. News, opinions, advice all in a style that was entertaining and unforgettable.
Your birthday today. It’s been almost a decade now, thinking of you and wishing you were around, and thankful that we catch glimpses of you in us. 


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