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Nobility of Sacrifice
Happiness of Rebellion

June 29, 2012


In Sweet Memory Of My Beloved Father
Part 1 and 2
I lost my father, at the age of 89, on the mid night of 3rd/4th Aug. Yes, I am guilty (or maybe selfish enough) of not informing all of you, in time, thereby depriving you the opportunity to share in my moment of grief.

Part 1

I again put down my oft repeated quote, "Rarely do we realize the importance of a body part like a tooth, until it is lost." Yes, the blessing hand overhead is no more.

Yes, I tried to maintain it a low key affair and more over, for me, honoring his wishes was much more important than indulging in these niceties.

So, we (I, with my other six siblings with their nuclear families) had to shift our camp to Puri, into a small math (choultry) named Braja dham, located barely 300 metres from the western gate of Srimandir.

It is my father who taught me to first deserve and then desire. I do not know whether he was meted the funeral he deserved. But yes, I tried my level best to uphold his last wishes.

So, in this pursuit, I tried to limit the function to the kith and kin only, from my native place, and concentrated on their attendance and tried to uphold their views, suggestions and advices.

But in return, received some scathing remarks from them, which were too difficult for me to digest. I cannot pretend now, as I used to, I care a hoot for those remarks. Let me honestly admit, that was a very horrific period for me.

Suddenly, I discovered that being a male/man itself was a taboo, since it drastically curtails the freedom to shed tears in public.

During the last fortnight, when I look back, I found myself to be all alone but yes, when I was crest fallen, it was my departed father, yet again, who came in my dreams to console me, not to worry, as long as my conscience was clear.

Part 2

Sure, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, more so when it is your father, who gave you life and identity? But the solace is that broken hearts are what give you strength and understanding and compassion. I earnestly hope it comes true.

My Father's Public Life:

A snow white dhoti and kurta clad, bespectacled man, with a upright frame, with radiant but frowning face, with a scornful look, entire length of a cane concealed inside the kurta sleeve, (as if that was part of his uniform) which was ready to pop out at the slightest pretext, was just enough to frighten parents, not to speak of students and staff.

During the entire school hours, a man in absolute command as he was, he had made it a habit to move around in the corridors of the school with giant strides, and in the process, the roving eye used to keep track of the minute details inside the school premises, like a prowling tiger, which was a sight to behold, for the onlookers. That was Kar maste (my father) for you.

Teachers, those days, commanded a lot of respect but my father was a stand out character and leaded by example.

He started his career, as a head master in a private high school, which was in its formative years. That was his plea for devoting more time for the school at the cost of the family.

His honesty and integrity lent this institute its character. His deep commitment to his profession and selfless devotion to his subject went on to inspire thousands of young students, spanning nearly over two decades in that institute.

His fair, firm and affectionate manner of dealing with them made him one of the most popular teachers in the district. Even after three decades of retirement, people still fondly recall his services and his reputation has remained untarnished.

Contemporary headmasters of private schools were content with administering of staff and students and pooling in funds, for the day-to-day running of the school expenses.

My father, on the other hand, joined the school with the precondition that he would never run to anybody with a begging bowl to run the school, which was taken care of by the trustee. That gave him enough time and scope for teaching English and mathematics in the higher classes. This in turn gave him a sense of involvement and thereby satisfaction. This enabled him a closer rapport with the students, and the backing of the parents.

He used to proudly reminisce that he was the chief examiner of Matriculation papers, for English and Mathematics for 17 years, till he voluntarily quit.

For him, the matriculation result of his school was the barometer of his success, which he proudly presented before the inspecting higher authorities. He also shared the same with the parents of the students, from time to time, and took this opportunity to collect feedback from them. Thus he enjoyed a free hand from the parents in administering the pupils.

The performance of the schools during the period he headed spoke volumes of his academic brilliance and administrative acumen. This enabled him to hold his head high and never did he compromise on principles and took his higher authorities head on.

Through his own good work, he saw to it that the school made the cut and eligible to be taken over by government. And in the process he himself was enrolled as a Government employee, was subsequently transferred to three other schools till retirement, but his reputation remained unscathed.

He went on to be promoted to the class-II and was awarded at the state level for his meritorious service. He was nominated twice for the national award but fell a victim of the departmental squabbles. The recommendation by the state Government could not reach the center in time on both the occasions.

We regretted for the same and cursed all and sundry but he was remorseless. He would proudly proclaim the achievements of the schools and the alumni of those schools, he had headed.

Yes, my father was the head master of the high school, located in a rural area, which itself was enough of a reason, those days, to hold you in high esteem.

He used to command a lot of respect and hence exercised a lot of authority over the locality. We the children, were also the students of the high schools in which he was the head master, from time to time. But recognition brought with it other drawbacks, mainly the spotlight wherever you go and all our actions were subject to closer scrutiny. He devoted much of his time in the school and its affairs, rather than the family.

It is just like yesterday that I am able to recall when he was transferred to Aska (a communist bastion). One of his intimate colleagues cajoled that he would be compelled to shelve his cane on joining there.

My father nonchalantly responded: Nobody on earth can stop him from caning his way out.

That was his confidence, caning his way out. He did, even there, despite confrontation and thrived there for 5 good years.

The parents of the students acknowledged that he might be administering their wards with a cane, with drop of a hat, but they had no doubt in their mind that he felt deeply and tenderly, and touched one and all through his heart.

He was blessed with nobility of sacrifice, combined with the happiness of rebellion. This unselfish but lethal combination made all his deeds beautiful and honorable.

--- Copyright © 2012 Golak Bihari Kar

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Read In Sweet Memory Of My Father - Part 3 - (His Private Life)

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