You may have heard the name, Rahim. Perhaps you know that it means merciful. But it is one of those beautiful names that has layers of meaning. Rahim also means the one who shelters you in the world like you were in the mother's womb. Beautiful, right? The first time I came across its meaning, a face stood out amongst all others. The one whose protective shell extends a distance. It is the protection I felt when travelling late at night, or going first time to a new part of the city alone. I will talk about him.
Every few decades a society goes through so much change that all its previous values begin to seem foreign to the same culture. While this is true and good we should be glad some things never change. One such thing is the affection we receive from our friends and family. How we express kinship may change but the underlying emotions are strong as ever. While all family members share a bond, some of them have a special role in how we turn out as people.
Now that I am a parent, I think letting your child go out into the world is the most courageous thing to do. If you think about it there are so many factors that are taken for granted there, the kindness of fellow beings and the courage of your own child to survive if an adverse situation was to take place. No matter how complex the algorithm of the world, parents know the odds of things going wrong is higher and yet they take the risk.
This is precisely the reason I look at my own young self with some envy. The confidence I had in me was so naïve I think it floated for the sheer reason that I didn't doubt the justice of the world for a moment. And for this confidence the only person who gets most of the credit is my father.
No matter what the role of a mother is, a father's is equally important. And we should go ahead and say that in a daughter's life, fathers are the case of some equals being bigger than the other equals. Arguably, fathers will have a bigger role in how a daughter turns out. No really, no matter how educated and liberal a mother is, unless a father's attitude corresponds with the mother's, there will, at the very least, be a tug-of-war.
In my case I was lucky to have both parents whose ideals corresponded. In fact, my father breaks all stereotypes. He was not a city slick, he moved to Bombay as a young college graduate. Cities by default are liberal. There cannot be, as much as political forces would wish, a space for pettiness and a communal mindset. And coming to a city like Bombay in the early 70s, I think set the tone for what kind of a father he would become. Or perhaps he was a liberal to begin with, it is hard to tell.
I don't think he was aspiring to be a role model or something. As a middle class person he was just working hard at giving his family all that he could. But in all that he was doing he was just letting us become all that we could become. If that does not seem like a great thing to you, you have not met someone who is actively a hindrance in your growth. That said, it is not that he was passive in how our mindsets were shaped but it would be better to say that he was instinctual.
How I knew this was due to how much liberty was granted not to just his own children but how he behaved in the community as well. For the longest time, I grew up believing all of these so-called evils of the society, such as casteism, inequality, had become redundant with their only place being textbooks. However, as the Indian society stands divided at an extreme of not two classes, or two religions, but two opposing political ideals, I can see that my parents, especially my father had a special role in shaping us as just individuals. All these might seem to be issues at the periphery, not at the centre of what lies at the family's core. But if you think about how we conduct with the rest of the society and what values we bring into it, they are channeled through the family unit.
I am a different person now from my past, I am more grounded, my confidence has eroded at times but I have had the strength to rebuild it. But at the core I remain the person I was moulded into as a child and I like that core because that is my true self. And it was built by the love of some people.
So this is my dedication to the Rahim of my life, who taught me that I could go out in the society being myself and it should not matter what other identities are a part of me as long as I contribute positively to the society.
Thank you HDFC for giving me a chance to reminisce about such important people in my life,
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