Monday, June 18, 2007

Coming to terms with Father's Day

Usually I don't feel too inspired by marketing driven events such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day etc. Every year there's a kind of circus around Valentine's Day when certain fundamentalist political elements resort to vandalism on the streets in some Indian cities while at other cities and metros various companies and restaurants etc manage to make a packet around lovey-dovey marketing buzz. In fact, even very public celebration of birthdays sometimes don't fit in with Indian social realities and often when one goes to wish a colleague whose Birthday is announced on the official website one is greeted with blank looks. That's probably because the colleague in question has a different date of birth for the records than his/her actual birth date. One then gets the feeling that exporting US HR practices directly into Indian companies are sometimes examples of cultural insensitivity and lack of understanding of social realities.

In any case, this year Father's Day (which was yesterday) left me feeling different because I was missing my father a great deal. Every little advertisement on TV and even the promotional flyer that a local hospital had inserted into my Sunday newspaper brought him back to me as did all the little things around my house like the light bulb that he changed during his last visit and the chair that he had painstakingly painted.
After a great deal of soul-searching I zeroed in on the following poem as the best way to remember my dad on Father's Day. Sailing had been one of his favourite leisure activities and he loved adventure. The poem is Classic T.S. Eliot, so enjoy. And Happy Father's Day (somewhat belated) to all you fathers out there.

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.
Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning
Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird.
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning
Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning
Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind,
A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog
By this grace dissolved in place
What is this face, less clear and clearer
The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger -
Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than
the eye

Whispers and small laughter between leaves and
hurrying feet
Under sleep, where all the waters meet.

Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat.
I made this, I have forgotten
And remember.
The rigging weak and the canvas rotten
Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own
The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking.
This form, this face, this life
Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me
Resign my life for this life; my speech for that unspoken,
The unawakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships.
What seas what shores what granite islands towards
my timbers
And the woodthrush calling through the fog
My daughter.
(Quis hic locus, Quae
regio,quae mundi plaga?)

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