About father-like figures..

No this is not about losing my father. Yes, you can continue reading it without worrying that
you will probably shed a tear or two after reading this post.

This is about fathers — not just by blood and relation but fathers by action. I am very fortunate that in this lifetime I have come across a selected few father-like figures who I look up to. I don’t know what are the defining attributes of a father-daughter relationship. But someone who has seen and comprehended this world more than me, pushes me to keep going, inspires me to do better and stands by me when I fall or when I shine, is like a father to me. Well, Agam meets most of these criterions too. But there is something to be said about a few grey hair and the number of years lived 😉

I think it is about time I write about a few father-like figures in my life. So here we go..
The first time I came across someone who was a blend of all the qualities mentioned above was at my first job with Boldtech. Let us call him Mr J. I worked under his able leadership for little over a year and established a very precious bond with him over time. He put me on the
toughest tasks every now and then and watched me struggle to meet his high expectations.
He once complained that I never exceeded his expectations, but always without fail, just met them. To which I replied, you see Mr J you work on Pentium V and I am on a slower
processor than you. He refused to accept that and told me I could do better. He knew my
potential more than I did back then.

Mr J was a very serious person and it took quite a lot to make him giggle. I remember this
one time when he was working alone in a closed glass-walled conference room. It was after
6:00pm and the team was starving. So a colleague and I did the “walk like an egyptian”
dance to grab his attention. He walked out laughing and took us all to Morimoto that evening.
It was there that he confessed to me that his kids were all grown up  and he missed having them around as often. He looked at the team and said, “And so I look for sons and daughters like you in my teams” I knew what he meant.  In a country far away from my home, I felt a
warm embrace of love for the first time. I recently got in touch with Mr J again and we
reconnected like we had never parted. I shared the developments in my life with him and he
reassured me that I was strong enough to deal with the loss of my father and that I had him
around if I ever needed anything.

Life moved on and I went on to work for another client in California. An independent
contractor, very senior in level, with a heart of gold and a humor of a nut came my way as
my second father-like figure. Let us name him Mr G. Mr G and I shared a very lovely bond
that I have missed ever since we parted ways. I spoke to him about everything under the
sun and was privy to some of his opinions on life and relationships. We were a riot together
and our constant bickering was enjoyed by the rest of the team. He was very sharp for his
age, and I became sharper in wit conversing with him every day. I am quite sure Mr G and I
were father-daughter in a past life. We shared a chemistry that is impossible to achieve
between strangers. Mr G and I still stay in touch, and every time I write to him, the email
exchange that ensues qualifies for consideration in a script for a comedy show. Mr G was a
man of friendships and commitments. And I will fondly remember him for his light hearted
approach to some of the most unfortunate misgivings in life.

And then I moved on and joined Uncle D. I was certain in the first few months there that there would never be a father-like figure in this company for me. And I was right for
the most part. But a few months before I quit the firm, a certain Mr R arrived. He made me
code. If you know me, you know what that means. Let me explain. I detest coding. I just
don’t have any appreciation for writing the same logic in different languages. I like logic, and
hence in C and C++ exams in college, I always JUST wrote the logic in my answers, and I
always scored low. I see no point in syntax and detest the idea of debugging. When it is
clear in my head, why the hell does it matter what syntax rules it breaks?

Anyway, Mr R and I coded together. He pushed me to my limits to the extent that I could
read a NEW language (BML), like English after a certain point. He is a globetrotter and has
some fascinating stories from his travels to India and Pakistan. I have shared my love and
contempt for India with him over multiple conversations and I know he particularly loves
listening to my views on the topic of immigration. When we meet, we keep the world aside,
and enjoy each other’s company. He wins my admiration for making me push my own limits.
He makes me do things I do not know I am capable of.

I am particularly fond of him because I can be myself with him, and it is very tough to get to
that comfort level with someone in a professional sphere. After the project, when Mr R
handed me my performance review rating, and I disagreed with it, I quoted to him my favorite
among Einstein’s sayings, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I don’t think any other manager would have heard this from a junior colleague and stayed silent.

In my current role, I sometimes have to be a firefighter and sometimes an evangelist.
Sometimes I have to be a planner and sometimes I have to drive my objective through chaos
towards progress. All of these roles are very exhausting. And it is nice to have some people
along the way who are there to support and guide you. Because you cannot achieve anything
all by yourself, you need a circle of aid that helps you get things done.

One of the members in my circle of aid is a seasoned and outspoken father-like figure. Let
us call him Mr J2. In just a few months, he has won my admiration for his tenacity and passion for his work. He is not afraid of anyone. His thinking is clear and crisp and all-inclusive. He is like a Jedi Master for me. A few months ago, I sent him a note of appreciation and asked him to be my informal mentor. He graciously accepted the role, gave me feedback on my work and shared some insightful pointers. I could not have imagined that just like I had been observing his tenacity and attitude, he had also been observing me. I was touched that someone actually cared about this newbie who had just arrived.

Mr J2 continues to inspire me, and push my limits. He asks me questions I have no
answers to and that pushes me to be more and more thorough in my work. He pushes me to
challenge the limits of the system, and I love it. His relentless passion for the right design
has caused a surge of passion in me for my work. So here I am enjoying my special bond
with a fourth father-like figure.

So apart from two fathers I am blessed with in this lifetime (one by blood and one by relation), these are the few father-like figures that I continue to learn from.  I think we all need such
inspiring figures in life to make it worthwhile. These men widen my horizons and unknowingly
push me to do better in life — not just as a professional, but as a person.

I surely hope that all my father-like figures, see a daughter-like figure in me. And that they continue to transition in and out of my life like waves. Each teaching me a little more about passion, tenacity, commitments, friendships, humor and, above all, love.

3 thoughts on “About father-like figures..

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