My father raised me without any expectations and demands; just unconditional love flowing out of his heart. My neighbours took their kids to the brick-kiln for an extra pair of hands to work but he sent me to school. So naturally, when I told him I didn’t want to study, I wasn’t expecting anything good. But there too, he surprised me.
“So, what do you want to do then?” He asked, his demeanour calm as it always was in front of me.
“ There’s a new JKD institute at AKP Road, I was wondering if I could try that…”
“What is this JKD thing now? A new TV thing?” He asked, his interest a little stirred.
“It’s Jeet Kune Do. It is a kind of martial art. Bruce Lee pioneered it, you know?” I said, trying my best not to stammer.
“Are you absolutely sure about it?” he looked at me with those intent eyes
“Umm… I think…”
“Okay, so how much do they charge? I need to see how much money I have.”
“Dad, I scored a scholarship. The institute will pay my fees.”
That single word changed my life. Today, seven years and countless battles later, I came back to the same hut which I left that day, to pursue my dreams. But one thing which everyone forgets that our dreams are not just our own. They belong to the people who helped to get us there. The medals around my neck, belong to him. The teasing of my children at the local government school, “Aye, Bruce Lee!” The look on his face when he saw me at the door and embraced me was worth all the hard work. Other members of the team called their families but I know he doesn’t have a phone. Maybe the brick-kiln owner told him that I won. Maybe he didn’t. but it didn’t matter. I had made him proud, and I had returned home. All those years in training, all those rebukes my trainer hurled my way when I couldn’t do more push-ups or couldn’t run another mile, it had paid off when I saw him tearing up at the sight of his son who hadn’t come home in months, the son who had become the hope of millions in this country. Sometimes at night, I think about what would have happened if he too took me to work like other people did.
I can’t say this about many others, but he was always there, whenever I lost an easy match or won a hard one. His presence was always gentle and firm, as he tried to be both my mother and my father since I lost my mother in the train accident shortly after my second birthday. He never taught me how to live but he made sure I noticed and valued it. Just the right blend of tender and stern, like an artist who mixes colours to paint the sunrise. After all, parenting is a special kind of artistry, right?

(NB: This is a piece of fiction)