And for the second time in less than a year I set out to write about a very close member of my family. I had earlier this year written a small note as part of my family’s project to dedicate a website for the memory of my grandfather Dr C T K Chari. And now as part of a similar project coordinated primarily by my mother and sister I attempt to put down my thoughts about my father- M S S Ramanujan.
As I sat down to collect my thoughts I realized that this was no easy task. Writing about my grandfather had been easier. In a way he was a more distant figure in my life having passed away when I was very young and it was fairly easy for me to recollect the memories I had in order to pen a note on him and his influence in my life. But how does one put down everything that one wants to write about their father in just a small essay? There is not a single aspect of my life that has been untouched by his influence- even 5 years after his death. To touch on all these aspects would be impossible even if one were writing a complete book.
My task was made even more difficult by the fact that so many of my father’s colleagues, friends, acquaintances and also my family had already written almost everything that could be said about him- MSSR- the honest and upright individual, MSSR- the competent professional, MSSR- the mentor, MSSR- the devoted and loving husband and father. I resolved therefore to keep my note to the simplest only touching upon some memories and qualities of his that were special to me.
I always had an immense faith in my father’s capacities to get things done. As a student at Kinder Garten I was always found asking my teachers to send for my father so that he could come and ring the school bell. Associating the ringing of the school bell with the close of school, I always believed that my father could get me out of any unpleasant situation. I don’t think this belief in him ever changed as I grew up though I didn’t on future occasions call upon him to help me skip school or classes.
My father was also a strict though not unkind disciplinarian who imbued a strong sense of value in both me and my sister. He always taught us the value of hard work. He also asked us to stick to the truth, to respect the decisions made by elders, to not waste available resources and to always be kind to the people and other beings around us. But living with him was not always like being in a boring moral sciences class. Some of my happiest memories of my father involve sitting with him on Sunday mornings in leisure and just chatting about simple things in life like school or friends. I also used to love listening to him talking about his childhood memories. He had an amazing sense of humour and could make even the simplest episode from his childhood resound with an immense sense of happiness and fun.
He also used to make an effort to share my interests and tastes. I have very fond memories of sitting with him on Sunday evenings to watch Formula 1 racing which used to be quite a favorite pastime of mine. My father and I were also the only two of our family who shared an interest in cricket and other sports and there were many a time when I used to sit for long hours watching one match or the other on TV.
My father tried unsuccessfully to help me with my school work. I somehow or the other always managed to find an excuse and slip away from getting lessons from him.
My father had strong views and opinions but he was never closed to listening to the views of others. Even within the family he gave us freedom to develop our own styles of thinking and our own opinions. If there was something that differed from his own ideas, he was always willing to listen to our reasoning and be convinced by us.
Like others in my family, my father also encouraged the habit of reading and buying books. I always had to ask permission for buying things using the add-on credit card he had given me- everything except books that is. He always used to tell me that even if you used a book on just one occasion to even refer to only a single line in the entire text you would have still obtained the complete value of the book.
He was also extremely proud of his family and everything that we did and would always talk about us in the highest regard to his friends and colleagues. To this day I hope that whatever I do will still continue to make him proud and happy.
These are but small ways in which I remember my father. A kind and honest person he touched the lives of numerous persons around him always changing their lives for the better. I hope that in our own ways we will continue to carry his memory in our lives.