Walks of Life & Weekly Report Card
Among all the fun stuff comes this weekly report-card of mine, for which I am always excited. This isn’t a written statement of my performance but an oral grading. In case you all are confused, this is how we worked-
Papa and I used to go for daily night walks and some morning walks as well. After dinner when mumma was dealing with the messy kitchen, papa handled me (which was messier on most days). In an age of no smartphones, this was our way of relaxation and maintenance of sanity. Both of us walking endlessly on the quiet VIP service road of Kolkata, oscillating between Bangur and Ultadanga, we kept the discussions on. We had a lot of things to talk about daily, sometimes the topic was his experiences of life, sometimes my school troubles, sometimes his work related issues, sometimes my love life, sometimes he used to teach me lessons of life with diverse examples and sometimes I used to narrate an event or make up a hypothetical situation and seek his help. Once in a while, mostly weekly, we used to talk about only me (and I was pro-active this day as I was the centre of attention). I was judged by my father upon the weekly performance, you may call it a weekly appraisal in this corporate era. I was given marks out of 100 on my behaviour and actions combined.
Let me explain this – Suppose on Monday I argued with my mom on some random thing, on maybe Saturday, the day of my weekly report, marks for the wrong behaviour would be deducted. If in the same situation I realised my mistake and said sorry I would gain marks. And if I really worked hard on the specified thing or tried to make it good, I would be awarded extra bonus marks. Something or the other was always good or bad during the week and so we kept this tradition alive for as long as we could. Thus I knew where I lacked and where I needed to work.
I was never an easy person to accept things as they are, without arguing or asking for a logical rationale behind them and he knew it. So wherever he would tell me that I was wrong, he had to elaborately explain me how and why was I not correct and if I was convinced that the fault was mine, I was given ways to rectify it or things to be done for disaster management after the mess. But if I wasn’t convinced and did not see where I went wrong, he would listen to me and try to understand why I did that, the intention behind it and the effects it had. It was never such that just because he said I was wrong, I was supposed to agree, it was always a discussion and there were ample instances for me to declare that he had also changed his ways and perceptions based on what I said. So much so that sometimes when he realised that I responded differently in a certain situation from what he had expected me to be, but I wasn’t wrong, he would accept and acknowledge my views and if needed said sorry!
It might look like a trivial thing, but trust me it’s not. The kind of people I have seen apart from him are very different. We are taught to say sorry when we are wrong, but how many times do we actually apply it? Suppose your boss is saying something and you say something else, he raises his voice or tells you to do what he said, even when you are right, you have to accept his views, or even if he accept your views, how many times does he say sorry? When your mother yells at you because she is having a bad day, you remain silent and she behaves normally in due course when she is in a better state of mind. When your teacher explained you something wrong and you tell her that it’s not the way she has explained it, she might get angry or sometimes rectify later. But how many of them really comes and says sorry? Just because they are superior to you, either in age or position or in any other way, they get away with their faults without saying sorry or acknowledging your effort or the fact that you were right. Is this what they taught you? You could also have rectified your mistake and never do it again when you were a child, but they insisted you on saying sorry, so that the person realises his mistake and remembers it for a longer time and the other person who was right gets the credit of being right.
He is 30 years elder to me, plus he is my father, do you think he could not do away without saying sorry? Huh! Easily! But he made sure to come to me and say sorry if he was wrong. Lecturing someone is easy, teaching the right thing is also easy, what is difficult is setting examples by doing what you are teaching. Trust me it is so damn difficult that I haven’t seen a second example of a man doing this in my 30 years!
It was never just a father-daughter relation, it was best friends talking to each other, guiding each other and sharing their lives with each other. Otherwise I have seen fathers behaving like FATHERS, who just says that you are wrong and I am right, for the mere fact that they are fathers and you are their children. That’s it! They don’t explain whys and hows or discuss the logic behind. They will preach what they have learnt, not discuss various perspectives and approaches to a situation or life as a whole.
So our walks were not just walks of health, they were walks of life!