Monday, 14 September 2009

Happy 80th Birthday Dad!

Today is dad's 80th birthday. And the whole family is down to be with him on this special day. In his unassuming way he is taking it all in as if nibbling on the memories bit by bit, as three generations eat together at table.

Yesterday I took all out to the Oberoi Bogmalo hotel where I worked as a guest relations trainee way back in my college days in 1984. The Sunday brunch was a lovely afternoon of swimming, buffet lunch, indoor games, and had baby Maegan pattering all about the place. Dad tried his hand at table tennis with me but was consisently getting the forehand smash wrong. He later confided in me that it was because of the catract operation he had just had.

As I listened to 'The Living Years' by Mike and the Mechanics on Goa's Indigo 91.9 FM I realised how little time we had with each other. Really. At a midpoint in my own life now, it feels good to be home and with dad and the family.

We all went for the 7.30 a.m. Mass today with dad. He wore a green striped new shirt and looked content. But as we sat together waiting in the church compound for my sister to pick us up in the car, I mourned for the old banyan tree in the compound which had been hacked to make way for new costructions, viz. a new wing to St Andrew's church which had been built during the time of Shakespeare. I used to come by the banyan tree and watch its tendrils reach into the ground. Slabs of stone nearby made it my own Stonehenge. Dad said, 'But the roots were creeping under the church.' Funny how this awareness coincided with the imperatives of development.

After the Mass we visited mum's grave and prayed for her. Nowadays whenever we make the visit to the cemetery, dad darts behind to the vaults made to house the bones of the loved ones. The remains have to be taken out of the grave after 3 years, a few bones kept symbolically, and the rest thrown in a well, dad tells me matter-of-factly. This is to make space for new graves. Dad also tells me that he has bought a niche - no. 13 left from the gate - for our family.

A few days back we went visiting. There I came upon a single woman in a beautiful Portuguese house staying in a Portuguese family. There was a frantic aspect about her. I stayed back to talk to her while the rest of us trooped off to see the new house. While they discovered the alleys of the house,I discovered the alleys of her mind. She said she did crochet. I asked to see her pieces. Superbly done with flair, the pieces were immediately bought by us. I was told later she goes to learn and teach crochet at COOJ (Cause Of Our Joy), an agency in Mapusa which supports people with mental disability. 'They are going to teach me guitar,' she said proudly.
Pix: (Clockwise) Dad contemplates the sea at Majorda beach, Goa (2008); Dad poses with family outside City Church, Pune Camp, Pune for his granddaughter's christening(2008); Dad tucks in with a Goan spread at lunch at home, Vasco (2008); Dad plays with granddaughter Maegan at home in Vasco on his 80th birthday (2009)

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