>I spent Sunday afternoon at the stadium watching my 60-year old dad running around the field as a fielder, bowler, batsman for his cricket team: flushed, nursing an injured thumb with a smile, hospitable, pleasant and so much the man I’ve loved all my life! He doesn’t look 60 to me, not even when I can see the fine lines creasing his face, not even when I can hear him talk about his tennis elbow, his stiff knuckles or his liver problem. Perhaps, because I don’t want Papa to be anything but the man I saw when I was growing up. And yet I know he is not the same man anymore. It’s not just that his hair has thinned and greyed, or that he is no longer the same athlete that he used to be. He has changed in so many ways that are more than just physical.
And it’s not just Pa. It’s all the men in that age bracket – my F-I-L, they say, is not the same man he used to be. I wouldn’t know better because I know him only as he is now. But I certainly know that my uncle – Bade Papa, as I call him – is certainly not the same person I spent my childhood with. I look at him and wonder what part of him has changed and I cannot say at all. I cannot tell whether it’s in the quality of his smile or the look in his eyes that has changed. But he has, just like dad, altered in undefinable ways.
So you say we all change, and what’s so surprising about it then that all the older men in my life seem altered? I don’t know the answer to that, except that it’s unsettling when the most stable elements in your life suddenly begin to change.
Perhaps, it’s that they no longer treat me like the little girl I’m used to being treated as. I ceased being a “little girl” long time ago, but I thought I’d always be one for my dad at least! And I was, till my nephew came along. So perhaps, it’s because he’s not just my dad anymore, he’s my nephew’s grandpa too. I know I will never be irrelevant to his existence, but I know I’m not the centre of it anymore.
And there’s more – subtle differences that may seem impalpable but are not to me. Like how he enjoys his solitude more now than ever before. Or how he doesn’t even want to spend his evenings with the same friends that he did a couple of years ago. Or how he smiles more and laughs less. Or (I say this with my tongue very firmly in cheek) how he no longer views my word as the last word on any topic, not until it suits him!
There are things around us now that weren’t there before and may be responsible for these changed men. There’s technology, for one – cellphone, DVDs, LCD television that make the worst cricket match seem like worth watching! Perhaps, it’s one of those things that they’re hooked to and that makes me think they’ve changed.
Or perhaps it’s just age. You know, how with the years you begin to see the same things differently and react differently to them. And if it is, then why don’t I feel those changes in mom too? Or in any of my aunts, for that matter?
Tell me reader, if you think your father has changed with time too? Or is it my age that’s making all the difference here?