|My father Abdul Rahman, my dadly-friends Everett Blauvelt and DD Maini|
Much of my sense of equality and feeling on par with everyone comes from his life model.
Unfortunately, that was a fact of life when I was growing up in India. “They” worked outside, and were not allowed in Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other homes. My Dad broke all the rules, not only they would come in our home, but would eat in the same plates we would eat, and my mother would cheerfully make tea for them in the same cups we would drink. Never were they looked down or talked down… (This was common) to Mara, Naga…and others who worked for us from time to time. My Dad’s actions had a big impact on me, and my mother had continuously reinforced those values. He said it was the right thing to do.
He taught that life isn't worth as much if we cannot stand up and help a fellow being. I was about ten years old and watched a man fall off his bicycle with his big bag of raw rice (paddy) and was struggling to get back on it, and I wasn't going to help the man. I saw my father about 100 feet away, and the way he sped towards me got me frightened for the first time in my life... Instincts work as my guilt warned it. I dashed inside the home and a few minutes later after helping the guy he was in… I climbed on top of the paddy bags in a corner of the house, I thought he could not get me there, so he goes outside and plucks a long branch off the mulberry tree and gives me a few good ones. "My son will never do that" after that conditioning, I have developed the habit of stopping for everyone who needs help. I dare not watch and not do something about it.
He was rarely angry, and I can count on the number of times I have been angry on my finger tips; thanks to him, he passed it on. If you are a father, remember, your kids are likely to emulate you, think for them what you want them to be as grownups. What would you want them to be?
When I was about 5 years old, one of our tenants was angry at his brother, he was nearly white but had turned red in anger, he picked up a big slab of rock and was about to slam it on his brother.. my Dad rushed and grabbed the rock… the seething look on that man’s face is permanently etched in my mind… the moment, I find myself angered, I think of him and said to myself, Ayyo (Bangalore expression for amazement) I don’t want to look that ugly and my anger vanishes. In the last 15 years I must have been angry no more than three times. Ruben, my serviceman went to cash the check from the bank, and the bank asked too many ID’s because he was Mexican. I flew off the handle on the phone and cursed the hell out of the manger, until he gave him the cash.
Remember your child will work, live and perhaps marry someone from a different race, ethnicity, faith, culture or a nation… as a father (its father’s day - it would have been mother on mother's day) have you thought of preparing your son or daughter for that day and save them misery of prejudice? I believe deep down every father wants “happiness” for their kids, but sometimes, messes up with them by the display of his own un-checked prejudices. I am glad I "dragged" my children to every place of worship for them to be familiar with how other people worship the creator. Happiness is feeling safe and secure with every human out there and it comes when we are exposed to it.