Monday 20 May 2024

Memories of My Father - Part 2


In our childhood and even in our adulthood, there was no tradition of celebrating birthdays. We didn't even remember when anyone's birthday was. The idea of birthdays came to mind during my university years. 

My father used to celebrate only one birthday with great festivity. It was the birthday of his guru, Adwoitananda. If we just said Adwoitananda, my father would be very displeased. He was very sensitive about his guru. We had to use many honorifics and say Sri Sri Srimad Adwoitananda Puri Maharaj. And for Maharajs, there aren't birthdays, but birth festivals. Yes, we had a festival at our house every year on the 4th of Jaishtha in the Bangla month. Later I found out that my father was also born on the same day. Even though we never told him, my siblings and I assumed that it was our father's birthday celebration. Although we never said it - happy birthday, father. These phrases were not as common then as they are now.

His financial situation was never very good. But for his Gurudev’s birth festival, he would arrange a feast with five types of vegetarian dishes for about four to five hundred people. There wasn't much space in our house. Our house was above our shop in the market, with the shop on the ground floor and us living upstairs. The feast was arranged at night on the street. People would sit on mats and food used to be served on banana leaves. 

At that time, only rickshaws and pushcarts used to travel on our street. When the street became busier, the market grew, and the guest control law was introduced, this festival was moved to the Kalibari temple. Later, my father himself stopped it. He didn't impose any responsibilities on his children.

The last time I saw him was in December 2005. When I was leaving home, he hugged me and said, "I don't know if we'll meet again. But you will always see me. I will be with you always." My father often used to say many philosophical things. I took it as one of those sayings. But now, day by day, I'm realizing that his words are gradually becoming true. As I age, my appearance is becoming more and more like my father's. When I stand in front of the mirror, I see him.

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