We often talked about if..
I am not sure who was more fond of ‘if’..
It all started with Kipling’s If…
I told you, your duty as the father of my yet to be son would be to recite ‘if’ and teach our son all the if’s..( apart from the other two duties.. ironing the clothes and folding the laundry, both chores I hate with absolute passion)
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
Somehow, this poem sounds a lot better when a father tells it to his son rather than a mother to her son..
Eventually ‘if’ became a part of us, our story..?
we always talked about ‘if’.. as in if it wasn’t for that or this etc..
The thing I admired the most about you when you said you read, you actually meant it.. not like those who say they read, when they meant reading one book in a life time. You read anything and everything and you had an exceptionally good memory..And you knew history..
Every moment with you was a learning experience..I probably learned more from you in the three years we were together..
It was a weekend..and one of the Conferences was going on.. Princy was in the campus..Obviously we weren’t supposed to meet. You volunteered to organize things for the conference.. You send a word to the hostel, got me to wear a saree..( I wore Amma’s blue and red Kancheepuram saree)..and I you made me join the official ‘ welcoming committee’..
You looked dashing in a full sleeve shirt and tie.. (Whose shirt and tie was that? Not yours, for sure..)
An hour later, we were in the second gallery.. away from everyone ( the conference was in the first gallery)
I was worried..really worried..Principal and rest of the staff for the entire medical college was present one floor down..and if anyone found us together, we would have been suspended. It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. and you told me..Jemadar Abdul Hafiz wouldn’t have got VC if he didn’t have courage.
Obviously I had no idea who was Abdul Hafiz..
You looked at me incredulously and told me..”if, it wasn’t for Jemadar Abdul Hafiz and people like him, Japanese would have been in India during ww2
Again.. I had no idea what you were talking about.
I knew about Bose, INA and Japanese army..
I studied Indian history for Pete’s sake.
Yet, I knew nothing about Japanese army trying to enter India through Burma..You were surprised that I knew nothing about Battle of Kohima and Battle of Imphal.
And all of a sudden, it didn’t matter if we were going to be in trouble for the simple crime of girl and boy sitting together….I had to know about battle of Kohima and Imphal..
You spend the next few hours telling me about Battle of Kohima..how it changed Indian history..how many people died..
You told me about Kohima Epitaph.. ( You described every detail of the war memorial..I can still see the nagas dragging the giant stone to the memorial)
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”
More on Battle of Kohima
There is a memorial for the Japanese soldiers in a Church in Kohima.. I can’t remember where.