I Stepped into My Father’s Shoes


Author – Virender Singh Rawat

Image – Pixabay

It feels good right?
It feels good when you turn 18; when you are an adult.
Finally, the moment for which you have been waiting so long comes to pass.

Most of us are literally on cloud nine at this time. Your social media is full of well wishes. You post a picture with a caption related to you being an adult now.

You are allowed to vote. So you post a picture, showing the mark on your finger, captioned voted for the first time.

You are allowed to drive. So you post a picture of you in a car captioned got my license today. You are allowed to drink. Few daredevils will post a picture of them boozing too.
A new world opens up for you.

But this world is full of responsibilities. Few realise it sooner and few realise it later, what being an adult actually means. I realised it sooner.

It was the 21st of August when I turned 18. I did what I was expected to do. I partied for a week, treating every friend, big and small. I got a lecture from my parents, a watch from my sister, a card from my brother, and many gifts (including a kiss from my girlfriend) and many well wishes. I was happy and everything was perfect.

But just a few months after my birthday, my grandfather passed away. Everybody was crying – my mother, aunt, uncle, younger brother, elder sister, a few relatives and myself. I never understood the concept of relatives; consequently I despise some but love a few. They stand with us in our good and bad times, at least a few of them do, I think.

Everybody was crying except two people, my grandmother and my father. Grandma was mourning. She wouldn’t say anything and stayed like that for a few days. I saw other women removing her bangles, her sindoor and her mangalsutra. As for my father, I could see his eyes were red like he’d burst into tears at any moment but he didn’t. He has always been like this, never sharing grief, never crying, being strong, being patient, being my idol. He always stood perfectly calm, like an old wise tree that is trying not to lose leaves, knowing he’s empty inside but let others rest in his shade anyway. Now he was the head of the family. He was carrying the burden of keeping everyone together under his shade by not losing his leaves. It’s not easy to provide a shade. You have to burn in the sun by yourself to provide a shade and that’s not easy at all.

The janaza started to move towards the ghat and as it was lifted I could hear louder cries. They echoed in my ears for a long time. My father was in front carrying a pot. I was moving alongside my father lost in thoughts of my grandfather. I have many beautiful memories with him and so I wondered what father must be feeling. My uncle called my name and told me to give shoulder to the janaza.

I did.
It felt heavy.
It felt like I had been handed a great responsibility. I was carrying my grandfather to the place where he could rest for eternity. It felt like he was passing down all his responsibilities to the ones shouldering him to the ghat.I could feel the weight of the responsibilities. As if he was whispering, “take care of them all”.

My younger brother was also walking with us. I saw him sobbing. He was sobbing all along. Nobody handed him the janaza for shouldering. He and I are the same. We were both grandchildren of the same person.

Why not him?

I soon realized I was an adult now. And it doesn’t mean you are 18. It means you are now responsible. You have a responsibility which you have to carry all your life. They say you are a grown man when your feet fit in your father’s shoe.

I guess that’s right. They fit mine perfectly now.

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