A Living Eulogy by Navina Anand

My friends think I am hilarious when I quip appropriate ‘pazhamozhis’ or Tamizh proverbs at opportune moments. Many of those are not just cliched adages but ridiculously funny ones with an amazing metre, rhyme, alliteration, and phrasing. Those beautiful phrases which usually are lost in translation. Very few people in my generation know most of them, like ” Summaa varuvaalaa sukumaari, adha seriyaa solraa somaari” ( There is no free lunch). I have inherited all of my ‘pazhamozhi’ sayings from my dad who is amazingly good with them.

My dad and I have been at loggerheads ever since I turned a teen. We fought about everything from my hair care, utter lack of organization, my scatterbrained carefree attitude, my lack of attention to detail, and my tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. He always tries to be a perfectionist. He is military-style in his discipline. Breakfast at 8:30 am, Lunch at 1:30 pm and Dinner at 7 pm. Everyday. Weekday, Weekend or Vacation. The schedule is set in stone.  And how has this impacted me? Zero. I think I went in the opposite direction. I loathe schedule, routine and predictability. I  refuse to eat the same breakfast on two consecutive days.I eat when I am hungry, sleep when I am sleepy and DISROUTINE (yes I made up that word)is the mantra of my life. I guess I did not learn anything from him in this context. This till today, leads to much frustration at his end 🙂

All through my childhood, there was an understanding in my house that movies and film music are  bad. It is immoral & trashy and growing up, until the age of 16, I saw a sum total of 3 movies in the theatre with my Dad . 1. Sankarabharanam 2. My dear Kutti chaathaan 3. Guns of Navarone.  This feeling is so deeply ingrained in me even today, that a part of me revolts if you play film music first thing in the morning. I cannot shake off this feeling of immorality. If we are playing ANY music in the morning, it has GOT TO BE Carnatic music only! 

He is a born entrepreneur. He has regaled me with stories of how as a kid he used to wash luxury cars for some pocket money. He used to come up with innovative  schemes to make an extra buck. He is always thinking of ways to be more resourceful .When I read the book ‘Rich Dad poor Dad’, I was amazed at the commonalities between the attitude of the Rich Dad in that book and my Dad.  I have not inherited that quality from him 🙂 

My dad always used to ‘work haaaaaaard’ ( He literally used to say it that way). He was, and is, a workaholic. Lying on the couch endlessly and watching TV is something he considers immoral(again that word). Even when he visits me, he would potter around the house to see if he can fix something, cook something, clean something, make something. He is a Rajo guna yogi. The Bhagavad Gita says that people with predominantly Rajo guna( passion to keep doing something ) will be born again as a human being in their next birth. A lot of people say it is more important to work SMART than work HARD.  I think that is BS. While I am not for a moment saying that one should dig a mountain to catch a rat ( Malaya Kelli Eliya pidikkardhu), I truly believe that when you work HARD the universe magically rewards you for your efforts. It may not be immediate… but one day you would suddenly have a windfall and wonder what you did to deserve this! 

My dad has a colourful vocabulary. Be it his pazhamozhi or his swearing like a sailor, I have heard all the gaalis in tamizh. I have inherited that a little bit. My swearing, even though I try to reign it in, puts my family in distress sometimes. 

Another quality in him that I have inherited to a certain extent is his competitive spirit. For his 70th birthday, when we went on a cruise, he signed up to be on the flow rider! (A contraption where you can surf the wave on a surfboard on a simulated wave https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_8qMw98-70 ). This is not a sport for the feeble bodied or feeble-minded person. And he did it! I just stood at the sidelines gaping at my dad who was competing with the 20 somethings! 

The ” I can do it ” spirit. He truly believes that nothing is beyond his capability. Even though a boomer, he does not shy away from technology. He has the latest phone, laptop and gadget at his disposal. He does not shy away from learning new things and keeping himself current and that is possibly his greatest strength. He started cooking after he turned 60. The man, who had never even made a cup of coffee till then, is a consummate cook today who can run the gamut from Channa masala to coconut burfi. 

If something is broken, he would say ” I can fix it”. From a pressure cooker’s handle to the delicate workings of a cuckoo clock, he can fix everything. Nail it, hammer it, glue it, he would do whatever it takes to get the job done. He is the ultimate engineer. Working with his hands gives him a lot of satisfaction. As a child, I used to scale walls and climb trees and as a result rip my clothes often. Dad fixed everything. Even today when an outfit is too big and needs to be altered, its dad to the rescue. 

While I was far from being pampered as a child, even though my friends assume I must have been spoiled rotten being an only child, today, I am indeed pampered rotten. I just have to tell him what I want and it will be bought immediately. Whatever I want or need, all I have to do is  tell my dad and it will be taken care off.. yesterday. My dad does not believe in the concept of LET US DO IT LATER. If he has decided on something, it has to be done immediately. He lives by the motto ” Never leave for tomorrow, what you can do today”.

I have always wondered, what is the point of a Eulogy when the person can’t hear you anymore. It is sweet to reminisce about a person’s past, but why not tell them about it when they are still alive. So I thought of writing a living Eulogy. When I googled it, I was pleasantly surprised that such a term actually exists. So this is a Living Eulogy for my dad. The super-competent man who lives life largely on his terms 🙂 

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