Tugged at your heart strings, didn’t it? )
Remember those times when your father took you on his travels, when you were just his knee-high, clutching his small finger, looking so wide-eyed at the big world and at Him, who was nothing less than a superhero to you? I do. Very vividly, in fact. My father, or to be henceforth mentioned as ‘Baba’ (because father feels too formal a term to have him called as), was an explorer of new places. Out of all his three daughters, I was the youngest and always the most enthusiastic and ever-willing to join him in his travails. For Me, He was a superhero. One who knew every nook and corner of my city, an encyclopedia of information. Needless to say, I got the exploring gene from him.
It was during the winter of 2014 that I started exploring new places on my own. Despite being a traditional family, both my parents have been liberal in not coming in the way of my pursuits, of which I’ve been glad over and over again. I decided to start my wanderlust with a trip to Beth Al Synagogue, a Jewish synagogue in Calcutta, which has always been a source of my curiosity. The trip had been immensely successful and had went on to give a huge impetus to my further exploring plans. Parents had been overjoyed as well, though I suspect it was probably because they were relieved that I didn’t get lost!
Next destination was Magen David Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Calcutta. However, the surprise came with the decision of Baba to accompany me. His reason had been to see at least one synagogue as he had no general idea of nor seen any synagogues in his life. (I very strongly suspect even now that probably it was the work of my mom to force him to accompany me and check as to where I actually went!) Nonchalantly I’d shrugged and off we went.
Because he was an explorer himself, the tendency to show around directions to any particular destination becomes overwhelming. Ditto with him, so much so that I’d to pull him by his hand and ask him to just trust me for this one time and let me lead him. I guess it was his paternal instincts ruling, perhaps not wanting to believe that his young child has indeed come of age. That it was his turn to be led rather than lead. Because I was a good explorer myself and knew my way, we reached Magen David without a hitch.
As mentioned before, Baba has never been to any synagogue before (in fact, he claimed to hear the word for the first time and the existence of such institutions in Calcutta) and thus came with an open mind palate to fill in. As any synagogue can blow one common man’s mind and the fact that Magen David was in itself majestic, Baba suddenly became silent, perhaps self-conscious and let the guide fill us in all the details. The overall trip being a massive success yet again and with a very impressed Baba by my side, we left for our home, a journey which witnessed a moment, leaving an imprint on me to make me proud of, for perhaps my whole life.
The road which we took to for coming back, was extremely crowded and one has to walk really fast, with one behind the other. I was the one at front, Baba at the back. We’d been on silent mode and were walking, when suddenly I felt Baba putting his hand around my waist, as a gesture of side-hugging me. Taken totally by surprise, I slowed down (thankfully, that stretch was quite empty) and looked at him quizzically. Little did I know that the words he’d say would turn a huge milestone of my life. I remember the words verbatim being said, “Now I’ve become old, you know, Anne. It is now my turn to be led by you, my little explorer who has so grown up to show me places that I didn’t even hear of! Now that I’ve experienced it first-hand, I can sit back peacefully and clutch your hands to travel the world. Quite a reversal of roles, eh?”, he’d laughed. The look on his face was that of immense pride. For Me.
I’d been rendered speechless. Goosebumps had run all over my hands, which had suddenly become cold even in that scorching heat. Because I hadn’t been expecting such a reaction for all the life of mine, I just didn’t know what to say! It was as if my tongue had rolled up on its own volition and my mouth had dried up. I gulped and managed a weak smile and tightly hugged him back, as if my heartbeat hadn’t just been stopped for seconds. We exchanged a look which didn’t need any words to give a voice to our feelings. We resumed our walk in the same waist-to-waist way till we reached the metro.
It’d been the greatest compliment I could have ever got rewarded with, the moment to be forever etched in my memories and it had come from my prince. My Baba. My Superheroic Explorer.