Life-changing lessons I learned from my father

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The last 10 days have been harrowing ones. I was in Hong Kong for a show when my dad fell ill. Racing to Mumbai to be with him while he was in hospital and trying to be as much of a backup for my mum has been hard. Father’s Day is today, and in the helter-skelter run to India via Singapore from Hong kong, I completely forgot about the occasion. 

Over the last week I have spent a lot of time sitting in the hospital thinking about my dad, his life, and his work ethics. With phone calls flooding in, from family, friends, neighbours and people he used to work with before he retired (4 years ago), I start seeing my dad not just as my dad, but also as a man, as someone other people know. Somehow no matter how old you are, when you are with your parents and immediate family, you all tend to fall into familiar routines and patterns. My role has always been that of the peace maker; the daughter my dad listens to. In these patterns, you tend to forget that there are other individual patterns and routines that play out on a daily basis that you are completely oblivious to. Completely eschewing the time honoured card, and wishes, this year I decided to write down a list of lessons I have learned from my dad. I use these in my life every single day, and now that I own and run Lustre, even more so.

My dad came from a modest background. He lost his father when he was 14, and started working the day after his 10 grade. There were no fancy schools and college education. There was instead the urgency to contribute and help out as much as he could to his own mother. He worked hard, he is thrifty, and even today finds it hard to be extravagant and waste money and resources on petty things. He recycled long before it became fashionable, he has learned to fix just about aything including car engines, leaky faucets, and built furniture from scratch. All because he had to. Not because it was cool, or because it was a hobby. He retired at the age of 72, after working with the same company for over 50 years. 50 years - I mean there are buildings, and monuments that have lasted a shorter amount of time!

So to celebrate him, below, is a short list of things I have leaned from my dad.

1. Be Loyal

In this day and age, where people flit from one job to another, one career to another, and look at every organisation as a stepping stone up a ladder, this is even more incredible. Loyalty doesn't just happen. It’s something that occurs when you practice a life long habit of gratitude for the chances you have been given, by someone, something, or an opportunity. It's always easy to be swayed, and I am sure that there were chances that he gave up, always mindful of the fact that when he needed help, he was helped out by the firm in which he eventually became the director of.

2. Hard Work

For years, my dad had in his office cabin, a print out of a saying by Sam Ewing - "Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.”

My dad always turned up with his sleeves rolled up, ready to commit and work hard. He went on business trips, he missed out on a lot of our childhood, and always always worked hard. He started an auto workshop on weekends as a further challenge. He operated on a routine that you could set a clock by, and was always on time.

3. Build good relationships

At the firm that my dad worked for, his relationships with his clients went years back. We grew up learning those names, and over the years, meeting those people. They sent my dad gifts at Diwali (Indian festival of lights), and mangoes in the summers, to thank him for the business he created for them.

The word “nice” is considered in our times to be a banal word, a beige word, a word that you reach from when you are either lazy or have a limited vocabulary, but it isn’t. “Nice” in my father's work and life ethics meant that you were polite, humorous, punctual, and responsible. He has always believed that being nice, especially in times of conflict and heated arguments gets you heard far louder than any amount of shouting. He rarely shouts, and prefers a slow simmer than an all out screaming match, even when he is really mad. Being a quick boiler in my youth, now I find even more wisdom in this attitude of his, and am learning to take a step back and be nice, especially when dealing with delayed shipments, or manufacturing processes gone wrong.

Nice definitely goes a long way.

4. Help those in Need

Seriously - this never needs explaining. Over the years, I have met so many people who have been helped by my dad. Wether it was hungry juniors whose potential he saw, or people who worked for him that needed money or assistance, or sick relatives that he helped out, visited with food, and took care of medically, my dad has done it all. I try to remember this when someone calls me and says that they are just starting a venture and would I meet with them to chat about “stuff”. Or a friend who needs help. Sometimes I am on top of it, and sometimes I fail. But the awareness is always there, followed by the guilt when I do fail.

All parents are for life. These relationships are sometimes complicated and sometimes not. But one thing remains for sure, that a bond between a dad and his daughter is for life, sacred and a wonderful thing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in your life.

 

Contributor: Anaita Thakkar, founder of Lustre Jewellery

Helmed by Anaita Thakkar, Lustre Jewellery specialises in handcrafted semi precious jewellery that combines traditional techniques with contemporary design for the modern woman.