A girl’s father is the first man in her life and probably the most influential. This holds true for me in word and in spirit. Being his first-born, I was always my father’s blue eyed girl. That I made him proud at every step in my life is secondary; but his love and protection, faith and direction have been my guiding light, continually. I have been close to both my parents, but with dad I share a special bond. It was no surprise that he was a strict, protective, conservative North Indian father. At times, I used to wonder whether I would ever have the freedom to do what I liked or would I always have to take his permission at every small step. But life changes and how! Initially, after I completed my studies, he was totally against me taking up a job. Imagine my frustration after being a topper not just in college but also in the University, and not being able to make a career of my choice. But all that changed ofcourse, because he changed with the changing times. His intent was bona fide; he was just over protective about me.
I took up a job the moment I landed up with a good one in an MNC Bank. Thankfully in those good old days, a Bank job was considered the safest, best and most secure especially for women. Dad had very little reason to stop me from taking it up. And that’s how my long-standing corporate career started. Dad helped me make decisions at every step in my life. He came up with such fantastic solutions whenever I was stuck in my job and needed his advice. In fact, I was once faced with a ‘pink slip’ kind of situation in my career for no fault of mine; and it was only his wisdom and business acumen that saved me. No, not the job, but me. I quit that job, for dad taught me a very important value that time – self-esteem. He stood like a rock besides me and helped me through every tough situation. I can go on and on about so many situations in life where if it wasn’t for dad, I wouldn’t know how to handle it.
So, when his fifty-first birthday was approaching, I wanted to surprise him with an inconceivable and unanticipated gift just to say a small thank-you for him being him. I wanted to make it very special for him and bring a big smile to his face. I racked my brains to think of what would be a complete amazement for him. Just for the record, I was very sceptical too, because it isn’t easy to please him, even though he is a very easy going person. It had to be an incredible bombshell of a surprise; and finally I knew what I had to get. A CAR! I decided dad’s 51st birthday present was going to be a Santro. I loved it and knew he liked it too. While it was easy to zero down upon the gift, arranging it was a big issue. First of all, the finances had to be arranged. In those days, salaries were really meagre and I had to shave off my entire savings uptil then to shell out the margin money. That I was okay with, and being a banker, the loan wasn’t an issue either. The problem was I did not know much about cars and was worried I would be duped by the dealers and the agents, since there were enough and more such stories floating around.It was my first gift to Dad.. i wanted it to be a car. When he saw it he was filled with pride.. #Daddaughter Click To Tweet
I needed an accomplice in crime, and had no choice but to let my younger brother into my plan. He was amazed and loved the idea. Dad is very fond of automobiles and he knew this was going to be a fabulous surprise. Together, we worked out the deal with the car dealer, the loan through the DSA, the accessories and the bells and the whistles that we wanted to adorn the car. I knew my brother was dying to let the cat out of the bag, but I asked him to promise me that he would hold his horses. There was another concern that we had to deal with. Dad is very particular about the Mahurat – the right auspicious time to accomplish a task. Frankly, being particular is an understatement when it is dad in question, so the date and timing had to be right. Well the date was decided – it was going to be 11th October – his birthday, we couldn’t change that. So we hoped as hell that that day was a good one according to the Hindu calendar. To our good luck, that year 11th October fell during the nine day long Navratri festival and dad’s birthday fell on the 8th day – Ashtami – which was super auspicious. That being taken care of we slyly requested mom to read the Panchang – the Hindu calendar to tell us which was the best time of the day. Everything was set, except dad!
The big day arrived. To get dad to go somewhere without his full knowledge is a daunting task, and my brother and I had to spin stories to get him to move. We lied to him about some important work that required his attention to which he reluctantly agreed. Well, they say that lying for a good deed isn’t a bad thing, so it was okay. We left at a decent hour to reach on time (read: Mahurat) for the car pick-up, with all the required things in tow for doing the puja of the car. The most important item being the conch that dad uses during all his prayers.
We reached the showroom and the cat was automatically out of the bag. Dad immediately said, “Aap log ne gaadi book ki hai?” (Have you guys booked a car). My brother and I were still a bit apprehensive, a little scared even. But!!! The moment we said, “Yes dad”, there was a million dollar smile on his face. And that was priceless. Super priceless! I felt his chest swell with pride and his face looked blissful and contented, as if he had just stepped on the moon. He said, “ye sab se accha tohfa hai meri zindagi ka, is liye nahin kyun ki gaadi hai, lekin is liye kyun ki meri beti ki kabilayat ka praman hai” (This is the best present of my life, not because it is a car, but because it is proof of my daughter’s capability). With that once sentence he gave me an even bigger present that I will cherish, not just in this life time, but in lifetimes to come!