>Another Dad

>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?

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11 responses »

  1. >Yes, sadly. 😦 He’s become extra-sensitive, a little grumpy, a hypochondriac and uninterested in many things he’d enjoy so much before…Ouch, I can’t believe I said all that but I miss the happy, confident, enthusiastic dad from my childhood.

  2. >I think its a combination of both. I don’t know if you have experienced this…. but as an example, there is this distant aunt of mine I met once as a child, and felt that she was the tallest woman i had ever met, then when I met her as an adult, I was surprised at my observation as child. It is tough to accept that the father has changed, i know. I am surprised when my father drives his car much slower these days!! So its my growing up, as well as his that causes this perception.

  3. >Haha…my dad keeps telling me he’s not old, that he’s as young as ever…I really don’t think so..specially when he starts talking about how he wants to get me “settled” before retirement :P! Jokes..His appearance might change, energy levels might go down…but I know, my dad will always be who he is…and no matter who else comes into his life, I will always be the center of his world :). People change..and thats so healthy. I’d hate if my father didn’t change with the times, and his views and opinions wouldn’t mould by the changes around him. So, i’m glad for any change in the forward direction. Good writing as usual!

  4. >wish i cud answer tht.. both my dad n future FIL are nomore 😦 and my dad passed away wen i was still treated as a kid … but after readin this i am really feelin happy that in my memory he ll always remain the person to whom i was the favourite little gal 🙂

  5. >Don`t sound so sad..change is constant in life..its a combination ..u have changed too and so have ur perceptions..everytime i see my mom i feel she is different(we live in different towns)..when i think of mom the pic that is most vivid is around the time i married..as we no longer live together ,the subtle changes that went unnoticed earlier are more prominent now..cheer up..he is still the same dad -jus as u r the same daughter!

  6. >@Devaki: Awww… I wish I could have said it like that too ;)@GM: I agree.@Neha: You’re right Neha. I know my dad will be my strength no matter what… he will be the dad I’ll always love and who’ll always love me… Nothing can change there. But this isn’t just about my dad, it’s about men his age and how they seem so much different than what they were just 5 years ago!@sansmerci: I’m sorry. But really, I’m far from sad to have this changed man as my father. It’s just an observation about men in that age bracket and how they aren’t the same people they used to be.@my space: Nope, I’m not sad at all. It’s just an observation.

  7. >Time changes people, which makes sense since we are constantly aging. Yes, my dad is visibly different today than what he was, say, 5 or 10 years ago, but it’s understandable… because in the last decade he has been through numerous experiences that have shaped the man he is today. And he’s not done yet; he’s going to keep changing. And I must accept that. I think it’s harder for us to see our parents (mom or dad) evolving and changing even at a later age because we’ve always kinda known them a certain way. Like you said, it can be unsettling to see how they change, but they’re human too… and just like us, they will change as time goes on. I don’t think there’s an age limit to evolving identities within one specific person, and dads are susceptible to it too. 🙂

  8. >Nice post…brings back memories of before & now…."I know I will never be irrelevant to his existence, but I know I'm not the centre of it anymore."U hit where it hurt(tongue in cheek ofcourse):-).p.s: came in here thru My space

  9. >It is a little of both I think.But in my case, in the recent past I get to see dad and mom only once every two yrs. So, sometimes I notice the changes in their appearances right away. Another patch of grey, a little less hair, a little more tummy. But other times, I don’t even remember how their faces looked a couple of yrs ago :(. This is the worst part about staying away from home.But I am closer to both of them now. We talk a lot more than we used to (one good thing abt staying far away, you miss them all the more). Part of it is because I’ve started seeing things the same way as they do. Thats me growing up!

  10. >@Sindhu: Ahem!@Reflections: Thanks. @Jira: It’s wonderful if your relationship with your parents can mature with time. That’s how it should be – after spending all our lives knowing our parents, we need to be able to accept them for who they are.

  11. >Every one changes D. I have slowed down a lot …. from the speed maniac to the person who would rather let her sons drive the car. I have become more mellow and patient. Age catches up. I actually listen to people now. I guess the same is true for other people. But the core – the essence – it remains the same.

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