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  • Debarka Sengupta

[Personal] A father, who knew the way to live



My father left us 17 years back on this day at 53. I was the only one who did not shed tears since I did not quite process what had happened to us. He taught biology and English literature in a High School. He was equally comfortable in mathematics. He published several stories and poems in prominent Bengali magazines like Desh and Bartaman. He discussed science, religion, society, and philosophy with my brother and me when we spent time with him or accompanied him on his evening walk. He entertained the silliest (now only we realize) of questions we asked. When he left us, several working-class individuals told us that our father had supported their families for years with unsolicited/unconditional financial/educational help. He would save money for school peons and rikshaw-pullers by taking small amounts from them monthly. He used to give them back the cumulative amount at the end of the year or when they needed it badly. None of us knew these for all those years he lived. As a father of two, today, I can appreciate what he accomplished and say aloud that my father was larger than life. My grandfather died when my father was 11, and he was thrown into acute poverty. He sold small items door to door at that tender age to earn a livelihood and take care of his mother. My father was a terror when my brother and I were kids and a pal when we grew up. He was emotional - often cried while watching cinemas or hearing something inspirational and kind. Below are things he often said to us that pierced me deeply.


  • Never increase your necessity

  • Earn people (over money)

  • Question everything without any inhibition, even if it is deemed stupid by others

  • If you ever follow some God, try to consider h/er as a human of qualities

  • Be the best in something, even if it is seemingly insignificant

  • Do not seek endorsements if your analytical mind and heart say it's worthy

Why did I write this piece? If someone ever cares to understand me, s/he needs to understand where I came from.

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