A few years ago, I called up my Dad on Father’s Day and very excitedly said, “Papa, Happy Father’s Day”. He off-course could not understand what I was saying. So I said, “Papa, today is Father’s Day – a day to celebrate Fathers. So Happy Father’s Day!”
And he goes, “Thank you beta, so what can I gift you?”
Fathers. Always ever want to give.
I have always wondered as a child and I wonder even now, how is he like that?
Now that I earn my money, I know how a random expense of Rs 10,000 “spoils” my budget completely, gives me stress. And with Papa, I have always seen him most happy when he is buying us something, most of which has been randomly asked for!
My father had to travel a lot for his work. He had his own business, so that gave him the flexibility to visit us once every month/month-and-a-half for a week or so.
It used to be festive when he visited.
He would convert the dining table into ping pong table, play badminton with us, get us something new every time, drop us to school and pick us up too, feed all three of us, put us to bed, wake us up (which was a big relief from my mother’s style of waking us), laugh with all his heart and do his happy dance sometimes.
Now I understand he was trying to not miss doing anything with us and feeding on our happy energy to get going for another month away from home.
In all this, he never really sat us down and taught us things about money explicitly.
But over the years, as situation demanded, he has taught me stuff that has contributed more to my personality than anything else.
I am sure even he does not realize it, but I was listening and observing. With all sincerity.
Buy things on full payment, or don’t buy at all
He has always been against loans/debt of any kind.
The only exception being Education, that also because our education was absolutely non-negotiable. It could not be compromised.
Other than that, he believes if you can’t buy it in full, don’t buy it in parts too. Nothing is as important as a stress-free sleep.
It has helped me stay away from loans in worst of times. And am I thankful!
As is every child’s duty, I did rebel against this momentarily and went ahead with Credit card. The misuse taught me a lesson or two, which is here.
Today, there may be arguments against this about taking loan instead of blocking the money that can be invested elsewhere, but that’s not really the point. Even if it was and he tried to make it, I would not have understood it.
With money, I have realized, parents can show direction, warn the pitfalls but a lot of things are not understood till you do it yourself.
And I think he did a fine job of hammering an anti-debt stance in my head.
I have seen some bad times, but I know, my father unknowingly saved me from seeing the worst by keeping me away from debt.
Value yourself, only then will you be valued
This was when I got my first ever job. My joining was on 15th July. My father came home on 27th-28th June to meet me before I leave for work.
We were going somewhere when I received a call from my new super-boss asking me to join on 1st July instead of 15th July.
As with anyone with the first ever joining, I was anxious. I wanted to spend time with Papa because by now he had shifted base abroad and was visiting after 6-7 months. Also, I just was uncomfortable with someone ordering me around.
It was my first experience of employment and it was not a good feeling at all.
My father sensed it I believe. He asked me what I wanted to do.
I said , “ I don’t get this. When 15th is decided, how can they ask me to join before. What about my plans? I want to join on 15th only”. Off course, I did not know ‘boss is always right’ concept then, thankfully, and that let me have an opinion on this matter.
And I will never ever forget what my father did.
He made me write an email saying,
As confirmed earlier I am eager to join the organisation on 15th July and look forward to the work I would be doing. Since I have made plans to spend time with my father, it would not be possible to join on 1st. Please confirm if I can join on 15th July.
<organisation name> ”
Yes, he made me sign-off as a current employee of that organisation! Even before I joined! While I was asking if I can join!
Here’s the reply I got form the super-boss– “Dear Akanksha, I look forward to see you on 15th July”
The answer could have been a “no”, “you are not required anymore”, “how dare you” or maybe a “wtf?”
I was ready for one of these.
My father was confident of the reply that I actually got. He also did tell me what worse could happen, but he let me go by my heart.
What he said was this , “value yourself and you will be valued. Bend and they will bend you more”
What I heard was this, “you are more important than the money they give you”.
Never be intimidated by money or position
Somewhere the same incident also removed my fear of authority even before I faced one.
I think it has got something to do with knowing that your Father has your back.
I started seeing ‘people in authority’ as just ‘people’. The ‘super-boss’ as just someone ‘senior with more experience’. A ‘CEO’ as someone ‘who takes decisions that other seniors cannot’.
It was never about fear of anyone getting angry at me anymore.
My father has a better way of saying it. “Someone else’s money or position will not define how I behave. My ideals and thoughts will. I will always be an equal in a conversation”.
I am there, always but make sure you don’t need me
I have lost count of how many times my father has been my rock-solid support mentally and emotionally in my adult life, as I am sure your fathers have been to you.
And then came a time when I had to make this call to him, asking for money – Rs 50,000. He transferred immediately, no questions asked.
After my work was done, he called me up and said something that jolted me back to reality, something that was needed and only a parent could do it.
He said , “Beta you know I am always there, but I don’t expect you to call me for Rs 50,000. 5 lakh-6 lakh, I can still understand. Not that I would like it either. But Rs 50,000? You are much better than that. I just want you to know that I am there, always but make sure you don’t need me. Every time I ask you if you need anything and you say, “no papa”, that’s the day I have my best sleep. And I did not sleep last night”.
It must not have been easy for him, being someone who never said no to his children. But he had to teach me this for my own sake.
Today, my father is coming home. Looking forward to wish him Father’s Day again 🙂
I am not there to meet him. I will meet him after a month or so. I have a job and work that keeps me occupied.
I am making sure he gets a good night sleep, every day.
Also published on Medium.