Some 25 years ago: Daily routine
The landline would ring sharp at 7 pm. I would run to the phone.
Dad: Hello!! Mummy se poocho kuch lana hai kya?
Me: Mummy Papa ka phone hai! Kuch lana hai!
Me yelling at the top of my voice even though my mother would be at a very audible distance: Nahiii
Dad: Ok beta.
Me: Bye Papa. See you soon.
Sometimes my mom would take the phone and tell my dad what to bring. Most of the times he already knew what to get and the call was just a formality. But he used to get something or the other. No I am not talking about groceries or necessary supplies. He would get doughnuts, pastries, cream rolls, all good things that would light up my face. Whenever he would come home from office I would run to him and cling like a monkey knowing that there would be some surprise for us.
And he continues to do that. He would go for a walk and end up bringing jalebi and samosa for my mother. My sister is married now, and my niece will turn 10 soon. Still, dad continues to be the Santa Claus who will get us surprises – clothes, shoes, gadgets you name it.
My mother never has to answer that question, ‘Kuch lana hai?’
I remember I used to go to my best friend, Priyanka’shouse as a kid. Her father also was very affectionate like my father. Her mother would cook nice food for us and then Uncle would take us for ice-cream. Those days nobody kept ice cream at home because power cuts would ruin it all. Ice- cream parlous were not that popular yet in small towns. Some random shops like stationery shops kept ice -cream as a side business! But the easiest way to get ice-cream was to just drive on the road until you find some hawker .
After having lunch at my friend’s place her dad would ask if we want anything more. My friend and I would giggle. I was too shy to ask because I was a well-mannered child and I knew that I cannot ask other people’s parents to buy me stuff. But Uncle also knew and my friend also knew and I also knew that our routine would not be complete without ice-cream. ‘Something is missing’, Uncle would say. Then he would take us both on his scooter until we would hear the familiar scream from a distance. “KAAWAALEETEEEEE”.
We never had to ask Uncle.
The same friend is married now. Before marriage she used to feel she had the best boyfriend. Now things are very different. She called me the other day.
“Tanvi! I ran out of salt yesterday! I asked Aditya to get it. He came back without it! He said he forgot! When I told him, how will I make dinner without salt, he said I always ask last minute. I should buy extra and keep. How much am I supposed to remember!! He can also keep track, right!”
“Yes. He can. He should!”
“What are you up to? Want to meet today?”
“Today I have to go buy running shoes! Papa has been saying that the ones I use are not good enough and will give me leg ache. Need more cushioning. I told him It is fine. He has done some research online and wants to buy that for me.”
“I am having back-pain since two months. Aditya keeps saying it is all in your head!! Everybody who works on laptop has back ache! Aise thode hi na hota hai!”
“Are I will come with you to the doctor. Book an appointment.”
“I know you will. But he should na! Remember when I had got sick in 5th grade? Daddy had taken me to three doctors just to rule out typhoid?”
“Haha! Yes I remember that. He wanted a third, fourth opinion!”
“That time we never thought na Tanvi, these things cost money. I used to tell Daddy why are you making me take all these tests again! ……..
Aditya would have said what is the need! These hospitals are a scam. Don’t waste money!”
“Aaj itna gussa kyun aa raha hai Aditya pe!”
“I don’t know why I am so angry. Just that you know… how Daddy used to care for us. We never realized then na….”
I had to cut the call soon. I went shopping and bought running shoes. My dad also insisted that my mother buys new ones. Now unlike our generation which never has enough clothes my mother is someone who will always say she doesn’t need anything! She looked at the sneakers’ price and insisted that her current shoes are pretty good. My dad started explaining to her how she should buy shoes which are good for her ankles . While he was trying to convince her and getting all technical about pressure etc, I paid which made my dad upset because he wanted to buy the shoes for me. He then bought two T shirts and track pants for me as he said there should be new clothes to go with the new shoes!
I came back home and called Priyanka. I knew she was upset. This time she didn’t say much. We both just talked about how much our dads care for us. It is not just about spending money to buy us stuff. But about identifying a need – My daughter needs this. Or maybe she doesn’t need it. But it would be better for her to have it. How can I make her life easier? How can I bring a smile to her face? How can I make her happy? Do husbands / boyfriends care so much? Maybe they do but sometimes they will weigh the cost. Or they are too lazy to drive. Or they feel we are adults anyway, and we want equality plus pampering! Plus we cannot cook like their moms! Yet we expect so much from them! How unfair.
Relax boyfriends / husbands. This is not something we talk about .
It is just a feeling.