I am Anisha Nair, raised in a middle-class Indian family in a humble locality in Delhi - a city where humility is hard to trace and compassion is somewhere deep inside a Punjabi aunty’s LV purse who’s traveling in the general compartment of the Delhi Metro on Monday at 7.30 PM from Gurgaon. Like any other human, I was born in a world full of promises and offered choices that I could make - every time. I have had the choice of being a victim in a situation or crawl out and take a larger bite of the opportunity. There were times when I bit more than what I could handle. All the choices that I have ever made and will continue to make in the future, all the choices that I don’t make or abandoned in the past, every opportunity that came my way when I was ravenous for experience, constitute a significant part of me. Even though I’ve hardly created anything artistic or significant enough in my life (significant enough to profoundly influence another being or existence), I consider myself an artist and my sole inspiration or force guiding me through every choice or piece of work is my own father.
My father is not my inspiration just because I am a ‘daddy’s girl’. Trust me, he’s not the pampering kind and doesn’t take the least bit of interest in flattering me useless, when I make horrible tea. The man believes that horrible tea should not be consumed, no matter who makes it! He believes that anything that comes for free is bound to be useless, ‘coz it didn’t fight enough to be worthy. He also has a strange belief that people with ‘cat-like’ eyes are not to be trusted blindly. Believe me, there's no point arguing with him on such ideologies. I have tried and given up for good. I remember him refusing to acknowledge me as his daughter for more than a year, when I cut my hair extremely short during a rebellious phase to prove something I can’t even recall anymore. He has never said “good job” or “excellent” or “you made me proud” on any of my achievements… at least not in words. Guess he never wanted me to perform for a reward. He wanted me to perform for something greater than a tangible reward. Some might blame him for tough parenting. But, that man still manages to inspire me.
Dad is not the protective kind, even though I now understand how much he wants to protect me. I remember him chasing the school bus on the mornings I missed it, fighting with the bus driver and embarrassing the marrow out of my bones in front of an entire population present to witness the wrath of a scorned father of a lazy school girl. But I also remember him leaving a 6 year old me at the bus stop all by myself, because I couldn’t stop crying at the thought of going to school. The choice was to climb that bus and drag my sorry ass to school or do as I please, ‘coz he couldn't be bothered by such petty fits. So I dragged my school bag all by myself and walked that road back home… following my father who just walked away in a fury without caring much about what my choice would be. I did go to school that day. My mother took me.
He doesn’t say much… not in words. People rarely see him lose his cool, but there is a thunderous quality in his quiet. I have seen people fear him when they are wrong and he doesn’t need words for that. Let me say this again, people rarely see him lose his cool. He shames people without words. He does that. One might imagine him to be a towering personality who might intimidate people at first sight. He is not. In fact, I’m taller. He’s not a socialite and remains to himself. Cracks a few lame jokes every now and then. The typical dad. But what inspires me is not who he is. My inspiration comes out of how he brought me up.
He relentlessly tried to contribute towards my evolution as a human being. When my classmates discussed the latest Jurassic Park movie that they saw over the weekend, I would tell them how my father took me for movies like the Bandit Queen, which was as heavy for a 10 year old as sand is for water. God knows what’s right parenting and what’s wrong. But the man always exposed me to radical stuff at an age when parents are usually sheltering their kids from “all that is evil”. He threw me into reality and never minced words for my delicate brain to masticate the matter and make it fathomable.
I have never told my father how much I love him (in words) and he has never done that either. But I guess, when I used to stand on the last step of the school-bus and hug him and kiss him goodbye, he knew it. I was told, when I left home to study in a different city, he returned home after seeing me off and just sat in my room for the rest of the day. On his part, I think it goes without saying how much he loves me. With time, I guess it becomes difficult for parents to believe how much their child still loves them and I woke up with this fear today. I doubt if I will ever say it in words, ‘coz dad's not a man who wants those words… not from me. We share a language that goes beyond that and I fear losing grasp of it.
I fear it so much that it wells me up because I owe the ‘Nair-ness’ in my name to him. I do.