First published in Gulf News. The print erroneously carried someone else’s byline for this piece but I have learnt that Gulf News will issue an official correction for that in the ‘Matter of Fact’ section.
Life can be likened to a vast, dangerous sea, full of undiscovered treasures as well as deadly beings lurking within the murkiness. It is largely a mystery but those who know how to swim against the tide are the ones who can successfully conquer the raging waters. Sometimes we find ourselves immersed almost to the point of suffocation in the treacherous sea of life, not knowing how to manoeuvre ourselves to the shore. And if one is prone to making mistakes like this writer is, such moments occur far too frequently.
This miserable situation when everything seems to go wrong might have been brought about by an argument with the significant other, a rebellious child (or worse, you might be the rebellious teen yourself), or it might be the much- dreaded dagger of that ugly phenomenon — work politics. Whatever the reason, I am sure you’ve been through moments when you earnestly wish the world would come to an end. And if you’re going through one of those moments right now, read on.
I was 12, going on 13 and the school day had been a complete nightmare. The morning had begun with a failed audition for some talent contest, after which the most popular girl in class did not invite me to her birthday while just about everyone else received an invite.
As though things couldn’t get any worse, later in the day the Maths teacher chose to share my carefully drawn doodles (in place of ghastly trigonometry problems) with all the students by holding up my Maths book for the whole class to see. And then as we left after the bell mercifully rang, the boys made a crack that I had put on weight.
To my twelve-year-old self, these were earth-shattering. When I returned home, I found, contrary to the usual, that Dad was at home, sitting and reading the paper on his favourite armchair. Almost immediately I leapt into his warm embrace and launched into a tirade about everything that had happened. Dad listened as I spoke uninterrupted, and just when I thought I would burst into tears, he held my hands in his and said a few words which I remember to this day.
Making a point
“Darling, in the grand scheme of things, how does it matter? Say, some day, you’re an adult, with kids of your own. Would some silly birthday party be significant at all?” The onset of the waterworks was indefinitely deferred as the brow furrowed and the mind began to absorb the wisdom in his words. He certainly had a point, didn’t he, I thought to myself. Gradually he cajoled me out of my blue funk and before I knew it, I was happily tucking into Mum’s painstakingly prepared lunch (which I had of course sworn not to touch).
Years later, I find that Dad’s words still have incredible depth and power in them. Invariably, I stumble and fall, and say and do things I dearly wish I didn’t, and much to my chagrin, the world does not come to an end.
The earth continues to revolve upon its axis even when people disillusion me in ways I didn’t think possible. In times like those, I think to myself — 10 or 20 years later, would I even remember this? Is this what I’d think about when I’m breathing my last? Is it important at all? And then I breathe easy. I can’t help but think of the man who, in the grand scheme of things, has been a really wonderful dad.