An Argumentative Rationale….One for the 1st Man in My life!
8th June 2020
Its been14 yrs today.. that a new man was about to enter my life.. Untill 26, whole life that was financially and emotionally circled around the other, who isnt going to be there anymore.. I still recall the doubts and anxiety my father had expressed , knowing what the sustenance of our profession was like then..it would be 2 birds in the bush. Being a techie by heart n soul and not just by the books, he would weigh a given scenario for its risks, advantages probable failures ANALYSE a situation be it any decision, work, home, family (relations) at all places.. Getting his dear daughter married to a software engg was the obvious choice of a wise man with an opportunity that prevailed through an arranged- marriage scenario. And yet he put all his doubts behind the bars & stood by my instincts only to support the decision i was taking while warning me of the realities. Dont know what prompted him to come to an agreement (without any of his favourite argumentative discussions) which i am sure he never regretted.
With as much rationale my decision to pursue further studies was respected and supported. Conventionally, when he was financially independent after 3 yrs of engineering to serve a single corporate for 24 long years of his life, my 7+ yrs of education did not have valid justification or explanation as to how it would benefit my future in any tangible form. I had no answers for it then and yet he defied his logics and came along all the way to the cities where I was supposed to interview for my admissions. ( did someone say pampering ?! ) Well upon securing the admissions I was happy and yet again in doubt whether it was worth spending that much on further education as even i dint have answers to the questions he had raised before. So i said we will pay fees later, to which he was like – are you alright , you have got admission but there are 60 others who havent. Do u know how crucial an achievement that is and you think it’s easy?and paid my fees.No discussion.
Final year graduation thesis is a wonderful memory where we both visited a small town called Karnal in Haryana. Until then the importance of writing formal letters to the authorities was not known to me. He not just taught me that but helped me gain a warm invitation to the institute ensured a smooth data collection at NDRI while accompanying me at all places to a lesser known town in one corner of the country. We even indulged into a Grade-3 cinema hall to catch up on some random Amitabh Bacchan & Akshay kumar starrer ‘EK RISHTA- a bond of love’ based on a father-son relationship.
Together we witnessed the strong economic drift while riding in the hand carted cycle rickshaws only to notice elderly men doing the ordeal.
Alongwith also comes an image of the trip carved on my memory forever, The grove of Amaltas on the hostel campus and sighting a snow white barn owl in the moonlight.
When you pursue architecture, the whole family becomes half architects..all five years , my early morning pinning up of portfolios was his task not to mention model making in the initial years. And i would so hate his question at night before going to sleep ‘ How long are you going to take?’ when i had not even begun working! He was as much a part of our group submissions on ‘Mobile sculpture’ as my friends.
Prior that, I hardly remember him indulging in any school academics unless asked for some specific math concepts that required explanation. He would barely know when our exams were happening. Probably because he was touring a lot then. Only twice that he mentioned, before the SSC board exam prelims, that these are the only 2 months you have got , after that for 2 yrs no one is going to ask you to study. And after 2 yrs there was another statement which hit me like this , ‘this is it’ give in your best. All this also came with stories of his childhood like taking his best friend for a movie during his own board exams. While he was prepared for his Maths paper, his friend had failed! His friend till date would recall this with great Humour.
Him being a movie buff, we could watch all Jackie chans and Arnolds , Steven Speilsbergs either in Cinema Halls – or on a rented videotapes and video players as was in earlier days. Marathi movies in Plaza and Theatre at Shivaji Mandir . He would be so excited with the video game console which had just entered the market then that we barely got the opportunity to play it when he was around. A crazy crossword enthusiast he would have his marathi dictionaries by the side.. We often got amused to see a diligent student, when he would sincerely pursue his hobby for the upcoming Derbies, for which he learnt accessing various websites in his 70s a database for drawing the correct probabilities . He had his own ways of enjoying himself and also, would love to have some sparsely selective company for Drinks. Having People around, would call for celebrations on the house! Be it his favourite Tomato Omlette or a cup of very strong coffee. His lunchbox was also a compact full meal which wouldnt be complete without Curd-rice. This Dahi-bhaat association had become a popular entity amongst his colleagues who belonged to various states. Yet with all his outstation-tourings that he would crave for home food , he would still take us for dinners in restaurants upon insistance (again this was not a common trend in any of the nearby houses and going out for food was a rarity in those days)
Same was the case with ‘Bulbul Tarang’ a rare musical instrument he had self-learnt on which he would strum the bollywood plectrum hits. At some point I struggled to learn but couldnt -To facilitate he even got a few tiny booklets with number keys for songs and later an electric keyboard.. some how a skill i never managed to acquire. But we all used to gather and love listening to him. I still remember those white round keys inside the black box and colourful heart shaped plectrums were so attractive.
Just to realise he was so passionate about whatever he did. He did not have a guru or a mentor that I recall. Most of his way of life was self learnt and self acquired.
One thing that i wish I had acquired from him was perseverance and diligence.
Guess he had a revelation to the philosophy of Om Namah Shivay -’I honour the divinity within myself’
He was not a Religious person at all , but not an atheist either. He never prayed to God on a daily basis and we would visit temples only as part of our sojourns. Except Shikhar shingnapur, our Kuldevat near Phaltan, a Shiva Temple which we visited often. A rare co-incidence in the names both of his son-in-laws Mahesh and Umesh ! we would tease him they were blessings of that Shiva. He would like to visit Shiva temples and I do too.. And i feel weirdly satisfied to have taken him to Pataleshwar in March , just before the lockdown and before he went to Mumbai.
We both shared the same Moon sign – Aquarius, which often would provoke us to indulge into arguments for no specific reasons on random subjects, to enjoy the harmless game with heated debates on silly topics at times for prolonged hours just-for-the-sake-of-it until mom would intervene to question the benefit of this ‘waste of time’ !
Genetically , I get my Left -handedness from him and also the extremely unreliable sense of direction, a goofed-up GPS. But we both loved travelling except that he was a very systematic go by the plan person.
In 2007@60+ , on the New years eve, we did a family trek of 27 kms in a Day at Shikharji , a Jain pilgrimage in Jharkhand and it wont be an exaggeration to say he was more fitter than any of us then.
He had first travelled internationally to Germany when he was 10-11 yrs old. It was a rarity to travel abroad then- his visit became a carnival back home when he left & returned. The house was so filled up with wonder stories that would keep repeating to every visitor . And he was in love with the Tulip garden and for years said that he wanted to show that to Aai. Well they did go and did manage to see the Tulips together and 10 other countries alongwith.
I did get my dolls, the tiny one he got for me from Germany because he couldnt afford the big one then, a large doll -the one i always wanted came little later from Singapore. Both are my equally treasured possessions.
I was the only lucky youngone to have accompanied his only couples trip to kashmir in 1981 as i was smallest amongst the lot who was left behind by all parents -an 18 month old he couldnt leave behind. A kashmir trip promised to the other kids never happened later due to conflicts. He was never a person who express love or emotions literally (thru words or body language), but it was always in the air.
When he was holding the position for Manager in Blue Star, he would organise interstate tours for 40-50 persons groups when there was no internet or google. These were mostly for his office team with their families,. The only Service Dept. which would indulge into such proactive gatherings unlike the corporate culture then, where everybody was becoming a large family. He would at his disposal send a qualified engineer to do the reiki of the place beforehand and even managed to convince his boss to sponsor these annual trips eventually.
His colleagues and sub-ordinates still look upto him and manage to keep in touch after 20 yrs post retirement. Did someone say Relationship Building..? At least i wasnt conversant with the corporate terminology during those times.
He was a Teacher, a mentor even a councillor for many informally. Even with family friends and relatives , he made better friends with the younger generations probably as the urge to learn more was always alive- and they looked forward for his unbiased guidance and ability to see any aspect in totality.
Whilst he had started freelancing post retirement, until recently he would make onsite visits to the customers who would insist on him coming in person . And he would commute on his byke across mumbai suburbs justifying how convenient and economical that is – as given his age we would think otherwise.
He loved his bikes. The 1st one was a Rajdoot- we used to call Bobby, I remember , he would make me wipe it , if we wanted a ride!! And the rides were worth it …
I insisted for a scooty in my 12th , almost managed to convince him, ( Thats again a luxury in Mumbai as the city has amazing Public transport ) He said, i have to be responsible and that maintain it well and its not just coming and standing out there. I took a back foot and got one for myself after graduation. Then he inquired whether i’ll be able to pay the EMI as i would be starting an internship then. I agreed and got myself my first vehicle with full downpayment. Its will be 19 yrs old next month.
But he used be always anxious when i would drive a car- n i would sneak the maruti van sometimes..After i bruised a American Embassy car, where he had to compensate from his pocket for an trivial accident (just a scratch that was Americanised to be fatal) , with both sides at equal fault, but the episode had lot of dimensions -and i almost stopped driving. It was he who promptly took to me Worli sea face and got me back on the wheel.
As a child at some point apparently one desires a pet… so even i had pestered for one – to which his explanation was that the lifespan of dogs would be 7-10 years and seeing their death would be painful for you. Will see if we can pet a Tortoise! How come did he not teach me how to face death?
‘BABA’ was ‘baba’ to everyone . Funnily it was his pet name. I wonder whether we were calling him Baba because he was the father or because he was just ‘ Baba ‘ for everyone, the way my grandfather was ‘ KAKA’ for all. Also the play he did in his Dadar Orient Highschool with Da.ma. Mirajdar on children enacting elder people where also he role-played the father. Mothe-baba to cousins, Pravin’ to his friends and just Chopade to his colleagues-Even his younger subordinates would call him by his name and not Sir or Boss as was the trend otherwise. And now ‘Aajo’ to his grandchildren.
His registered birthdate is 28th October 1947 which he shares with his grandson Moksh.
Both are crazy cake lovers. For my elder one ‘Osh’ (8) when i told him ‘Aajo’ is no more and not coming back-the first reaction was , so are his tools mine now?.. Coz those priced possessions of AAJO have been his toy tools in the vacation. An attraction bound to develop when you have a handy-man in the house who is continuously busy doing some creative activity with these tools from making a torch out of transparent plastic box to fixing a casing of Tic-tac to the pencil sharpener so the shavings dont fall around the house , to converting a cloth hanger into a mobile stand and a fan from beer can. My whole Architecture happened on a Study table which could be inverted to make a Drafting board holder was completely inhouse handmade carpentary with ‘discarded’ ply-peices. The off the shelf brand new purchased door closer could never match the ease and comfort of the home made spring door closer. There would be several other tiny objects of fun that loved keeping himself occupied with. He would be amazed to see the innovative chinese products of this era like a child . Along with the random stuff collected and reused or upcycled or mended innovatively, the most important thing he never wasted was time.
The Tiny house in Dadar was a fascination to many. 215 sq.ft abode was like alibaba gufa. So compacted and fit and well- equipped to cater to so many. So inclusive , we used to have all kinds of visitors at all time that Jokingly my friends used to call it ‘ lodging boarding’. It was like a Motel for folks coming from native village either for work or for Mumbai Darshan with family. And my parents being the great hosts that they were made everyone feel at home so quickly. From being their unofficial guides to serving delicious food , it was all inclusive. Even the postman was served water without asking as he had climbed five stories in the hot & humid climate. It was a home that welcomed one and all . For students who came for exams or training , for friends over for drinks and celebration, a place for social gathering, families who shared domestic grievances, a respite for people stuck in the 2005 floods . Dadar being the central place for convenient travel across the city of Mumbai. It literally meant Stairs that connected the suburbs to the island city. My father loved the place of his birth and was never willing to leave or shift his base else , be it Pune or his other larger residence in Kandivali, Charkop. The city and him, both outlived many disasters before- the riots ,up close the bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, the pandemic was just timed out. Guess, Dadar was the place close to his heart and from thats where he wanted to climb his steps to heaven.
Born on 8th october 1947 on Kojagiri Pournima, right after India’s independence, he was a citizen that was a thoroughly sincere , responsible and ethical individual who conducted himself well in the society . He did not revolutionise anything nor scandalised and yet just helped push certain values ahead of what a socially culturally responsible country would aspire the majority of its populace be like ..Do your duty, stand by the law, enjoy your freedom.
My heart was filled with warmth when I read the acknowledgement letter by the Trustee of a village school where he was invited as a Chief guest- to get a glimpse of his social standing- which i did not know until then, which he never even mentioned to anybody.
His greatness never came around as one big achievement but as large ensemble of small little important and not so significant experiences that gave a balanced, enjoyable, safe and secure journey of life. A life cherished by many co-travellers.
There are things you achieve and things you dont. To make peace with this and identify the spots where one can finds solace- is something we can all learn.
Most felt this was wrong timing , and 73 wasnt much of age for an active person like him.. But age is just a number and even if it was a 85, a 95 , a 100 we would still want a 101.. We can never have enough of whom we love. But what he did have was life that was overall quite fulfilling , debt free and reasonably happy and prosperous- nothing ever to regret or repent for— substantially satisfying . From where he belonged or came from, he had accepted his limitations and done the best that he could possibly do in the given circumstances He did what was in best of his capacity as husband , father , son, brother, grandfather, friend, mentor, citizen – straightforward and risk free, patiently and consciously.. -Simplicity doesnt come easy , it comes after you overcome a lot of complexity .. and it takes its own time to reveal itself when a lot is foregone...isnt that a job well done ?- isnt that a life well lived ?
There has been a collision of random memories that keep spurting and will continue to deluge …. More will occur when people will share there own memories which some have already started ..
Both the times earlier, that he has had a Heart stroke, 2012 in Mumbai, the day before i was to reach there for the delivery and 2nd time in 2018 (exactly on his 71st birthday) rarest of the occasion when i was outstation for the weekend- i knew i was not going to be around when he is actually going to leave me for good .. And every time he would sleep for longer hours a kind of streak of fear would swift through my mind past whole year.. Although, he had managed to climb the Shivneri fort effortlessly immediately within a month after his 2nd Angioplasty. He had very high sugar and would yet binge upon a chocolate or a small piece of mithai and loved cakes and never stopped from having those justifying that the medicines were to allow him to do that- else theres no point. So he knew he had to live well until we leave and at some point we all will perish. The vices if someone may say so.
He was an extremely careful person. I never saw him let loose control of his emotions ever. No yelling , no fights, never bad words. Everything had a composure. The difficulties or worries over health , finance , or work never came out negatively ever. There was always a word of precaution and warnings in everything that revolved around the house and these were issues that were discussed openly and rationally , never emotionally. The strength of a person or the pillar that he was, (not just to us three but to the other connected families) never came out as a matter of fact since he always underplayed it.
Including the ordeal of leaving us – came with poise- a matter of fact. A draft memo in his personal handset: …..
……..Anyways my days are numbered. Am i unhappy or scared ? No. Not now.
Me & my wife lived 45 yrs of a happy married life. Have i broken any relation with my relative/ friends due to misbehaviour. No. i dont think so. I am on my own.
& thanks to all my friends family , doctors and dearness.
Another personal message to his wife mentioning not to conduct any post mortal rituals!
No hassles , no burdens , no obligation. He was always on his own.. Till the last breath. Always in control, including a planned systematic departure from this world with a smile..
Putting into words, how I perceive him as a person today is a lot easier than what he meant to me as a father… BABA may be present only in spirit with us henceforth and to acknowledge him grammatically in past tense will take some time- to the fact that we are on our own now..IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME TO BUILD AN ACCEPTANCE.
Late Mr. Pravinchand Chopade
(8th October 1947- 6th June 2020)
And yet there would be so many acknowledgements i am due for here for all the close family friends and relatives who gave us their support in these difficult times and also while some of them have themselves been in a shock, and wanted to come and meet us .. To all those who provided a helping hand in this crisis and the hospital staff who diligently supported us…. i take this as an opportunity to thank all of them for making our lives beautiful…
There would be numerous other incidents to add to this memorabilia..,like him taking me to watch ‘ CHAMATKAR’ when i was missing my mom who was travelling… But Chamatkar or magic doesnt happen in real… and so i have to go call that Washing machine guy to repair the gasket, cause now i cant keep stuff pending for weeks , to wait for ‘Baba’ to come and fix door stoppers , repair the mixers, change the bulbs, screw the hooks and hinges , drill the nails and so on.. Cause he is not coming back…not anymore..
Cant forget to remember,