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My biggest fear is my children will see me as dull.

A round-shouldered disciplinarian, grim and straight-laced.

My other fear is cutting a lonely, distant figure as a historian carrying his learning with unease.

So I dodge straight lines whenever I can.

I go the way of loops. Ones that breathe in roller-coaster appeal for them and me.      

My ruse of adding zing to their lives is to lead them to forgotten places.

My being a historian helps.

Every summer vacation, we — my wife, children and Masti — head off to the cottage in the hills that my parents built.

My parents are no more, a car mishap taking them away before their time.

Our holidays get launched with our scrambling’s over hills with winds smashing our faces.

We swing on dense foliage as circus trapeze artists do and reel in different directions. 

We boat and cycle, too.  

In these expeditions, the children live a full life.

Alongside, they learn to handle loss as the memories of my parents live on in their cottage. 

Every portrait, furniture piece, vessel and tree, injured over the years, has a yesteryear story to tell. 

I unravel these forgotten stories for the children.

I talk of my childhood… my days by the firelight ... how we used to chop wood, heat our water and cook our food over them.

I talk of spiced smoke drifts, of evening readings by the oil lamp and of late night bonfires.

I think the children enjoy these twig-leaf-fire littered stories and dips into history.

These floating images of my parents and details of their lives get contained within the children and my parents remain forever alive.

I hope that death for the children is no longer about dark and festering wounds.

Rather it becomes more about the wheel of life where life is followed by death.

I hope these expeditions teach the children to handle other misfortunes as well, say an unknown around the next bend.

And cope with frustration, disappointment and tilts towards the hateful.

It’s really about finding the balance within the mind.

Finding a new, comforting place in it, so as to be okay no matter how bad the situation.

I hope I am able to teach my children this.


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