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If I have to point at one day which I could call my happy day, it will invariably be Saturday. Saturdays have always been the days of which I have the fondest memories. It started years ago when I started spending the whole day with my dad on his Saturday off.
As both my parents were working, I grew up in the care of my grandparents during the day and had only a couple of hours in the evening with my parents. But Saturdays used to be my days. Dad had the day off and Mom had only half a working day, so they never sent me to my grandparents on Saturdays.
Saturdays used to begin a little later than usual for me, as Dad would let me sleep for as long as I wanted. Once I woke up, he would get me ready and take me to the nearby Udupi restaurant and order my favourite masala dosa. This was not just indulgence, but early lessons on table manners and cutlery handling as he taught me how to eat masala dosa and chutney with a spoon and fork.
When we got back home, Dad would be immersed in his newspapers and I would be busy with my drawing or activity books. He would call for me when the crossword and puzzles page would come and we would spend our time working on that.
Just before noon, Dad would start making the Saturday special- bitter gourd and fish. He would let me watch as he worked and we talked about school, family, politics (or what I understood of it at that age). No topic was taboo!
It was always bitter gourd on Saturdays and I dare not refuse to eat it even when I was only 3. Saying no to food was not encouraged. Of course, I was also rewarded with fried fish for being a good girl. After eating to my heart’s content, we used to take naps in the afternoon.
Saturday evenings were reserved for going to parks. Having grown up in the suburbs of Mumbai, it was not every day that one could make it to a park, so Dad made sure I got my share of see-saws, giant slides, swings and merry-go-rounds on Saturdays. I jumped, ran and got dirty in the mud and he watched me all the time. Preventing my falls, catching me as I slid down the slides. Then we went to the railway station where we could spot an elephant on Saturday evenings. We walked behind the elephant as its master took him on around much to the delight of little ones. Mom would reach the station from work around the same time. Sometimes the three of us would have an ice cream or chaat before heading home and on some days, Dad took us shopping.
Today, I am a mom myself, and now it dawns on me how beautiful and simple were those times and how easy it was to be happy. It meant the world to me to eat my favourite things, talk to my heart’s content, to play in the mud, to see that elephant, and to have that ice cream with my parents. Even years later it happens to be my happiest memories with my Dad. My Dad never taught me how to be happy, he simply showed me.
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