At the crack of dawn, Kalpesh and Jayesh rush to check on their father as soon as they wake up. As the elder son, Kalpesh runs his fingers through his frail-looking stroke survivor father’s hair to check on him, 62-year-old Ashok Manrupchand Jain opens his eyes with a smile. The times have changed. The lockdown has infused a rare responsibility into his sons.
On April 4, at 7 am, Ashok woke up with a loss of control on his facial muscles. After being unable to take a bath by himself, the family found him unable to eat breakfast properly. “It was scary watching the side of his face slump and being unable to keep food in his mouth. We knew at once that something was wrong,” recalls elder son Kalpesh. They rushed him to a hospital where he underwent treatment for two days before returning home. But that was not all. On May 6, again at about 8 am, Ashok displayed similar symptoms, except that this time around, they seemed more severe. Ashok’s eyes had turned glassy and he couldn’t recognise anyone in the family. “Now, we rushed him to another renowned hospital in Girgaum where he remained for treatment, for 20 days at a stretch,” says an emotional Jayesh, recalling the ordeal.
Now, back home, in hindsight, the family maintains the lockdown came as a boon considering, at all times, both sons, Kalpesh and Jayesh would be away at work throughout the day and the situation could have simply spiraled out of control had their father fallen sick then. “Which is why they say, ‘What happens, happens for the best’,” maintains a visibly weak yet positive Ashok, now well on his way to a recovery. “Now, both my sons stay more at home, spend time with their children, wake up early and eat healthy. My stroke has scared them into behaving themselves,” he says with a twinkle in his eyes. “Why, for the first time in my life, they are even planning an informal family get-together on Father’s Day,” he adds.
Merchant Navin Jain found himself spending quality time for the entire two months of the lockdown with his 14-year-old daughter Hiya Jain who helped her father put things in order his shop. “Earlier, she would be embarrassed to come to the shop but, this lockdown, she spent so much time with me instead of her friends as has been the case,” recalls Navin.
For the very first time, Hiya spent time with her father even bonded with him at work. “This time, I realised how busy he has always been with work. Always at the shop, I always complained how he hardly had time to spend with me. But now, I realise how difficult it was for him,” says Hiya, planning a surprise treat for her dad, this Father’s Day.
Insurance and realty consultant Wasim Khan couldn’t be happier with the lockdown. After having suffered a heart condition that had played up just before the lockdown, Wasim had been advised rest but simply couldn’t afford to stay put at home for long, owing to work deadlines and professional commitments. “The lockdown came as a boon for me,” he says. “I could finally take a break,” recalls Wasim.
From March 25 onwards, Wasim got a golden opportunity to spend ‘days on end’ with his three children and two sons-like nephews, Fizan and Dayan, his ‘Jaans’. “This was the best time of our lives,” recalls eldest daughter and physiotherapist Farheen who learnt to cook new ‘vegetarian’ dishes from YouTube for her father. Farheen, incidentally, will soon be leaving Mumbai “to pursue a post-graduation programme” and stay away from her family throughout the period.
Younger daughter Alisha, who “topped her recently-held XII exams,” has been helping her father keep the home in order. Wasim’s wife Latifa is a self-professed cleanliness freak and the father-daughter duo make sure her standards are met. “This lockdown, I realised, she has a serious interest in aeronautics,” says Wasim.
Son Atif who plays cricket for the Mumbai Cricket Association, has grown closer to his father, especially after his ailment. “Even today, he comes and sleeps next to me every night. We make sure to have the morning tea together. When he is away, we talk over video calls… the lockdown has brought us closer,” maintains Wasim.
This Father’s Day is special for the Khan family, closer than ever before, who will celebrate it with ‘vegetarian food’, song and dance in celebration of father Wasim Khan’s recovery and more.
For Marathi television and theatre personality Mihir Rajda, his biggest grouse was that work kept him away from his six-year-old daughter Nihira. “I hated it,” recalls Mihir. “She would call me after every few days when I was away at work and I couldn’t be with her,” says Mihir. “During this lockdown, I managed to spend so much quality time with her that our bond has strengthened,” he says.
Today, when Mihir goes out to shop for groceries and gets late by even five minutes, Nihira calls to check on him. It started when Nihira’s school shut before the lockdown and for the first time, Mihir got a chance to spend a full week with his daughter. “It was then that I learned she loves mathematics, just like I do,” says Mihir, pleasantly surprised. Earlier, whenever he got time to spend with the daughter, they would do ‘fun’ things, now – throughout the lockdown - they were doing just about everything together. “I also realised my daughter is intelligent and understanding at the same time,” maintains Mihir.
“During the lockdown, on one occasion, while working late at night, Nihira came up to me and said, “Dad, chalo mujhe chinta ho rahi hai aapki,” recalls Mihir, moist-eyed at realising how sensitive and caring his daughter had become. This Father’s Day will be special for Mihir and Nihira too.
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