Introducing Anuradha Sengupta with this story of her father whom she always considers a Hero. She describes how her father taught her to ride a cycle and also takes pride to say how her father always encouraged gender equality in the family.
16th of July 1937, the world knows this day because of the famous picture of Adolf Hitler passing the Dada wall in Munich. But to me this day hold a different significance. It is the day when my Dad Mr. Dilip Sen was born in the beautiful town of Shillong. So today I take this opportunity to share my thoughts on my Dad, my Hero.
He was born in Shillong and grew up in Pune.. My Grandfather, who was working at the Pune Armament Factory as a Missile Expert, lived in a 22 room Bungalow. Baba enjoyed living in his own separated room while all his 5 siblings shared rooms. He was the eldest son & had an elder sister. They were 3 brothers & 3 sisters. All the siblings were post graduates at that time including one in the armed forces. He also raised homing Pigeons there. He was very naughty in his childhood & used to tell me many stories to that effect.
He studied at St. Vincent’s High School & then Nowrosjee Wadia College. He did his M.Sc. Instrumentation (Physics) from Poona University. Baba lost his father at the age of 20, so he had to quit studies after graduation to support himself & his family. He worked in Kolkata for a few years, than shifted back to Pune to study M.Sc. He finally became a Senior Physics Teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya, B.E.G., Pune & later at Indian High School, Dubai. He had also been granted a British Govt. Scholarship to study the Technical Education Course in Nottingham. He was a good student & brilliant teacher. Though he was a Physics teacher, he had organized an Indian Music Show with his students in Dubai for which he was gifted a Sony Television Set in appreciation in the early 1980’s.
As a person at home & as a father he was very loving and different. He was very forward thinking for his time. He was multi-talented. He could sing well (trained in Hindustani Classical Music), play the Tabla, Mouth Organ, Harmonium, Synthesizer & Dholak. He loved singing Ghazals as well. We used to have all night Ghazal programs at our home. He used to act in plays in college & Durga Puja celebrations. He also enjoyed playing Cricket. He was the Honorary Secretary of Vilas Sports Club in Pune whose most famous player was Chetan Chauhan. He was a good swimmer too. So now you see if we start writing a detailed Bio-data for Baba it would run into many pages. I could talk about him all day and not grow tired of it.
I, being his elder child was very close to him, my brother was 6 years younger so the baby of the house. Baba never ever let me feel that I was a ‘girl’ or any different from a boy. I studied in a Convent next to his school. My brother Abhijit had the privilege to study in his school (Boys school) & I then had the privilege to study in his college. He encouraged me to study Computer Science in1986 when computer science was just getting introduced in India as a new subject.
Baba got me a bicycle in Class VIII to ride to school which was 2.5 kms away from our home & taught me how to ride a two wheeler when I turned 18. He also bought me my own scooter a year later so that I would be more comfortable & more independent. He played Billiards & Snooker too & had participated in a tournament in Dubai where his picture was published in the Newspaper also. He would take me to the club with him to watch him play & feed me goodies to sit out there a little longer. We would sneak out together to eat Chinese food too. He was an excellent cook himself.
My Ma Atreyee was his support system for life as she always looked after us and his extended family, as Baba always wanted. When my Ma told him to buy Gold for me for my Marriage (as gold was cheap in Dubai then) he told her ‘No not now, I will buy when the time comes’. Sadly he never got the opportunity. Actually he never wanted me to get married before I became an independent woman, so the thought of buying gold for me never crossed his mind.
We used to watch movies together Hindi, English & Bengali. He also used to buy cassettes of the latest Music for us in Dubai (sometimes 15 at a time). Once Baba went through great pains to take my brother (all of 3 years) & me to watch the movie ‘Don’ just because my brother loved to sing the song ‘Khai ke Paan Banaraswala’. The Movie Theater was far away & there was no internet to book tickets at that time (1978).
He never ever told me that I couldn’t do things because I was a girl & that I must learn to cook & clean or learn to look after the house etc. He always wanted me to be independent. Of course looking after one’s family is most important. But from Baba, I learnt, that there are no separate set of roles for men & women.
He was a visionary. I miss him every single day. We lost him 33 years ago (I was 20yrs. old & Abhijit was 14 only). I always want to celebrate his life because I think his life is an inspiration to all. He always taught us to be honest, never hurt anyone intentionally & that there is no substitute for hard work. He didn’t get to see his children get married or see his grand children and that saddens me, but I know he is our Angel who looks after us, every single moment.
My Baba was, is, and always will be my Hero. I write about him today to celebrate him and in the hope that someone, somewhere, will get inspired by his story, just as how my brother Abhijit and I are. Happy Birthday(85th) to him wherever he is. Love you forever Baba.
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Anuradha is a Ex senior school Computer Science teacher & now a homemaker. She has keen interest in Music, cooking & baking. She loves to travel as well.