Roquefort, baguette, pineapple juice and the Daily Thanthi or the unsung hero of a disappearing generation
26 April 2017
Those who follow my blog since a while and whom I personally thank here for their continued support and interesting comments would have come across articles regarding my father and his adventures in India. For those who are not aware, you can look up the previous articles about him and a part of his adventures (Celebrating life – https://geethaprodhom.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/celebrating-life/ or The plight of the elderly in India – https://geethaprodhom.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/the-plight-of-the-elderly-in-india/ ).
For those who had not followed earlier my blog and don’t have time to look them up, I’ll just summarise saying that my father went through a difficult land grab experience followed by the forced sale of his house and his kidnapping to a remote location in Tamil Nadu where I finally found him after months of searching for him, going to and fro between Dubai where my children lived and India which I visited every weekend for almost a year until his situation was sorted.
My father has now been with me for around three years and has recovered from his adventures. He also went from being confined to his bed in an old age home in India (where he was awaiting the preparation of his passport for months – forget about the supposed immediate access to passports for senior citizens) where he was spoon fed and lifted to go to the bathroom/shower to an almost fully independent status save for cooking for himself which he now rarely does.
A very spiritual and erudite person, my father remains mentally very active albeit in a remote way as far as the link to human beings around him is concerned. While he keeps himself very well informed thanks to a Tamil newspaper called the Daily Thanthi and to the news reports that he follows almost religiously, his links to the reality around him are less intense and he is often immersed within his own world which paradoxically is made of very deep analysis of all the phenomena happening in the world. I realised that what I took for indifference about the matters of this world was rather a form of detachment made of absence of intensity regarding the outcome despite the very deep analysis of the subjects he examined. It appealed to my own quest for detachment which I practice albeit in a different form as I believe that the heart should remain at the center despite the lack of intensity regarding the outcome.
This got me thinking that there were so many people in this world like my father, living in this world but barely in it so to speak and content with very little. In a time where so many human beings are literally killing each other over access to resources whether basic or of a higher level and in a society where consumption of goods, even those which are absolutely not necessary items of life, is the driving factor, I remain at awe of this generation of human beings who hardly had the need for all this wastage and who are so content with the small joys of life.
For my father, a great source of joy is to be able to enjoy a slice or two of bread with some Roquefort cheese together with some pineapple juice and followed (if not preceded when he is hungry for news) by the reading of his favourite Tamil newspaper. Whenever he is able to have all these items together, his happiness is palpable and I regret that sometimes the newspaper is not available at the store where they know my father and tell me that he is apparently almost the only one who buys it. When I think of the cost (spread out for the Roquefort) of that happiness, a mere AED 22, I feel that it is truly amazing. There will be those who come from humbler origins who would of course be happy with much less but my father was a doctor specialized in pulmonary diseases so one would expect that his standards and requirements to lead a happy life would be fairly more demanding.
I have to say that even when he was younger, my father led a simple life and was always willing to help others, to the extent that he sometimes drove into the Tunisian desert to provide medicine to those who could not visit the city. While he may have had some faults, I truly believe that my father is an unsung hero, a sample from a generation that is becoming extinct in this day and age. Every time I think of anything in life that causes me any discomfort, I always think back to my father’s approach in life and to the little things that give him immense satisfaction and I feel an immediate quietening of all discomfort I may experience.
My father will be 85 this year and I do hope that he will get to live to a hundred walking around and sitting as he does with his back straight and with such dignity and poise. I am including a picture of my father who has more of a Tagorean beard now. I find it particularly endearing as he does not button his shirt fully because it is then easier to unbutton 🙂
Together with my father, there are all those other unsung heroes of India, some in the open and thriving, others perhaps lying on a small mat in some isolated place, who have contributed so much during their active lives to a society that can barely acknowledge them for what they represent. Perhaps this acknowledgement of all those unsung heroes, a program to actually visit them in their houses and have social workers perform a follow-up on them for those living isolated would be and retain to some extent, the measure of our humanity.
Life of the Bird – The Cinematic Orchestra