This is not a poem
Nor is it a story
It is something about you and me.
I am just putting it down
so that you know
In case I have ever failed to mention
How much I love you.
Where do I start?
The day you told me what a vestibule is
and showed me a betel-nut tree
from the train going to Bhubaneshwar
Or from that day
Walking down Madame Cama road
Introducing me to the life and spirit of Bombay
Showing me that rhombus
Atop a local train
Telling me that is called a pantograph.
I have advocated and patronised these words
And I never saw their meanings in a dictionary
You have been my best teacher.
I’ll never make a mistake in long-division.
Today more than two-thirds of my body
leans out of a local train
You even taught me that.
You never taught me history
geography, biology, or civics.
But I learnt of culture from you.
I learned to respect. You taught me humility.
You’ve hated my travelling in a cab
Not that you always travelled by a bus
You always wake up early
And want me to do the same
You have demanded the most out of me
And you’ve liked it when
I worked hard, putting in late nights.
You accepted that I was a grown up
Still wanting me to be complete
The complete man
String and weak
Confident and meek
Shameful yet shameless
Faulty yet flawless.
And I never came to know, when
you became my friend
We drank together
You took my cigarettes
I stole yours
Though, I still don’t like your brand
We;ve shared sad times
Tried reading between the lines
Laughed together, carefree
You brought me newspapers
you didn’t read or see
Such a wonderful relationship
How can it be?
I learnt to be immaculate
When I saw you covering my school notebooks
And I know why trains don’t slip from their rails
and how gears work.
My first flight
fastening the seatbelt.
Teach me one more thing
How does one get a father like you
who taught in absence
who taught by experience
who taught of pain and hurt
Who was seldom available
but was always there
Who can go through the pain
of seeing his son
getting hurt as he grows.
Where does one get such a father?
How does one get such a father?
YOu’ve slapped me because I didn’t study
You’ve kept awake because I was not well.
People ask for father figures
But I have a father friend
And since such people are few
I wish I always have a father like you.