My dad is a perfectionist. In his 34 years of service, he was a Gazetted Officer for the last few years. He knows even the tiny teeny law points of Kerala Service Rules and Kerala Education Rules. He is a walking encyclopedia who was consulted by most of his colleagues. Not just in his field, he has developed a working knowledge in the basic laws and procedures everybody should know – especially of the dealings in a govt office. That said, he is the go-to person of even the distant family members to consult anything regarding any kind of certificates from govt offices, property documents, bank dealings, ration card etc etc. He was a very strict teacher all his life and a stricter officer. Since he knew all the laws and was perfect in his work, he feared no one. He was a strong officer who couldn’t be influenced by politics or money or threat. He did nothing out of way and made sure the same about his office staff as well. He strongly believed in his principles. I have heard his ex-students telling that he never smiled in the class. Students were scared of him. He is stubborn and adamant.
When we were in school, he used to take me and my sis to post offices, banks, LIC offices, telephone exchanges etc whenever he visited to make any payments or transactions. By the time we were in college, he has made sure his girls know how to pay a telephone bill, how to send a money order, how to book a reservation ticket, how to take a Demand Draft, how to pay an LIC premium and such things. Little did he know that by the time we start earning and have a family of our own, all these could be made in a click or two. He is not convinced about doing the transactions the ‘e’ way. He is not interested in knowing as well. He find immense satisfaction in going to railway station / telephone exchange / post office / electricity office, patiently waiting in the queue for his turn and making the transactions. He just doesn’t have the faith in doing things electronically. Like an enthusiastic preschooler, he keeps asking so many ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ until I find it difficult to answer. For the last couple of years, I pay my LIC premium online. I recharge my phone online. I do all the banking transactions without going to the bank. I have tried my best to show him all these and convince that I can pay the bills on behalf of him. I showed him how easy it is to check ticket availability on IRCTC, to pay bills and premium online. After putting lots and lots of efforts, he agreed to it, provided I do it through his Debit card. Another typical character of my Achan. He just doesn’t like depending on anybody – not even his kids. Whenever we buy something for him, he has made sure we get enough lecture on not to spend money ‘unnecessary’. He is little egoistic to ask us if he needs any help – as in, to ask me to make the payment rather than he doing it physically. So later on, I started making the payments on my own and then tell him.
Now to the title of the post. When the new calendar arrives, it was more like a custom since childhood to check and mark the birthdays (and the death anniversaries too) of our near and dear ones according to Malayalam star. This was started by his mother and he continued it. When calenders hit the market by December end, he gets one Malayalam calendar extra – for my sister all the way to Hyderabad. Last year it was in March that I moved to US. He asked me if I need calendar. I replied in negative. Since it is March, no new calendar was available in market and he didn’t want me to carry the one he is using at home. On one of my phone calls to home, he asked me if Malayalam calendar is available here. I said I have downloaded a Malayalam calendar online and I will use it to check the (Malayalam) star, if at all I wana know. He was not convinced though.
A couple of months back, I joined for a distance MBA in India. I asked him to send across the books to me. He asked me if I need anything to be sent along with the books. I specifically asked him not to keep anything as I was not sure about the scrutiny of the Customs officers. I didn’t want to loose the books because of something which was sent along with it. Last day the parcel arrived. In the handwriting of my perfectionist dad, my address was written in capital letters in blue ink – The city in pink and is underlined, the phone number in green on the cloth cover neatly stitched and sealed with his good old sealing wax. I opened the cloth cover to find another newspaper covering inside, then a plastic bag covering, then another brown paper covering and then my books. And inside the books, there was a Malayalam calendar for 2016 neatly folded into four.
He found immense satisfaction when I sent Amma a pic of it being hung here. 🙂