“A boy’s first hero is his dad.”
Loss of parents is tantamount to living on the Earth without Earthing. This is why it is called Earth Shattering. Our foundation in this world is our parents. When they are no more, we feel groundless. This is more so grave when the association is of more than 50 years.
On the 9th of this month, I experienced the death of my father Chandrakantbhai at the age of 84. He played the role of mother and father for the last 36 years since we (my brother & I) lost our mother in 1984 (the day Indira Gandhi also died).
Our mother died in 84, & father at 84!
A seasoned banker, he started his banking career with Dena Bank at the age of 18. He had an illustrious career with the bank where he played several important roles. He describes these years as his best years of life. With his forthright nature he had some occasions of confrontation with the top management of the bank but every time he was vindicated. This had earned him a lot of respect from the senior management as the years gone by.
After playing various roles in various posts in Mumbai, Kolkata, Vadodara, and Raipur he took voluntary retirement at the age of 56 to end his memorable banking career & to pursue the spiritual path. By that time he also had completed his family responsibility of getting both his sons married.
A staunch follower of Shrimad Rajchandra, he used to visit and stay several months a year at Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram at Koba since 1991. His Ashram visits continued even after heart bypass surgery in the year 2000. In 2013 he was hospitalized for 10 days. Thereafter he became physically dependent. He continued his Koba & Agas Ashram visits regularly till then.
We had always experienced his non-greedy nature. When he was in a senior post in the bank, he used to receive several Gifts during Diwali, however, he used to distribute most among the staff. He used to donate a fixed percentage from his income until the very last. He never used to bargain with vendors. Money for him was for the benefit of self and others and not a matter of hoarding.
He was a forthright talker without any guile. That might have hurt people at times. But he continued with his nature of telling the truth upfront throughout his life.
Punctuality was another virtue and he would expect others to follow the same. His Aparigraha (non-hoarding) approach to life is a lesson for us. For the last several years, he used to have his clothes, medicines, and things of daily use. He used to refer to Assets as Parigraha.
He was through spiritual but at the same time never believed in Mithya rituals in the name of religion. We were blessed that Mithya rituals, Mithya beliefs were never entered our house. He had read several prominent books by Jain Gurus. The prominent among them are Samaysaar, Mokshamarga Prakashak, Atma Nu Sashan, Shrimad Rajchandra Vachanamrut to name a few. (All are in Gujarati).
He lived a few years of his youth independently away from his parents. That had helped him to shed all his family baggage. That had helped him develop his own free and modern outlook towards life.
He was full of life. With a keen interest in Gujarati literature, he was a well-read person. He used to like quality Hindi movies. His favourites were Pyasa, Mughal E Azam, Dev Anand & Rajesh Khanna Movies, Pakeezah, and Umrao Jaan to name a few. However, he never visited a theatre after the demise of our mother.
Having lived in Kolkata for 20 years he was very fond of Bengali and other sweets. However, he had to restrict the consumption of sweets when he was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 47. But the last thing he ate in his life was sweet. For several years he would celebrate his birthday with us by we all visiting Nariman Point and dinner thereafter.
We had no sister so he always missed a daughter in his life. He used to informally adopt girls as daughters wherever he lived. A daughter calling him Daddy was his dream. Both his daughters in law used to call him Daddy not Pappa etc.
He enjoyed discussing new things with young people including my son i.e. his grandson. He remained in touch with many of our relatives and his friends until the very late age of his life.
He was foresighted and would visualise the situation from all angles. His clarity of thoughts is reflected in his beautiful and error-free handwritten personal notes. To cite an example of his foresighted thinking he had visualised scenarios of various aspects of life around him for the next 30 years in the year 1995 when he turned 60. Several among them become a reality as the years gone by. The prominent among them are his visualising of Dena Bank merging with a larger bank and high-headed person would become PM of the country.
“With sons and fathers, there’s an inexplicable connection and imprint that your father leaves on you.” Brad Pitt
We inherited from him priceless virtues of his modern thinking, non-greedy nature, Aparigraha led life, thinking of the situation from all perspectives, punctuality, reading good literature, the right meaning of spirituality and religion, the purpose of life and much more.
Death is inevitable but the death of a father is painful. Yet we have no option but to take solace from the following quote from Bhagwat Gita.
“Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore, grieve not for what is inevitable.” Bhagavad-Gita
The following reality of life is comforting. What died was his body, his soul with his good karmas might have achieved a higher purpose on the journey to Moksha.