August 2016 By Abhishek Thakore Rebellious young boys strive to create a legacy different from their fathers, only to realise that they ultimately become more and more like their fathers,says Abhishek Thakore Papa 1 We are all mostly born to papas who are super men. They are invincible and can do no wrong. They are men of steel who go out there and face the world so that we may have our toys and do well at school. Over weekends and holidays, but mostly through conversations with mom, we get to know our papas. Papa 1 for me was similar – his life was a journey of making all of us materially and financially secure. A few generations ago, I would have accompanied Papa to the fields or learnt his craft early. But now, I was in school getting ready for the world, the world that he dealt with mostly. As I hit teenage, some realisations began to dawn. My papa was a very successful rockstar. If I had to have the remotest chance to do better than him (who doesn’t wanna outdo their papa?), I would have to work very hard. So I decided not to be like him. There was no way I could match that level of sacrifice, hard work and focus anyway. Being a child of moderate to highly successful papas is not easy. Papa 2 Interestingly, other friends also reached similar conclusions – irrespective of how successful their papas were. Those who had papas who weren’t as successful in worldly terms wanted to do exceedingly better. So Papa 2 was who I did not want to be. While I wanted to be successful, I did not want to do it his way. He was steady and focussed so I explored and dabbled. He worked for the large corporation. Perhaps, that was one of the factors that drew me to start-ups. He was good with money, so I ended up being not as careful. None of these decisions were conscious really – but they were happening through my teens and early 20s. Papa 2 was not all that cool. He took plenty of boring decisions and played it safe. Slowly, I was becoming my own person, different from Papa 2. Here, I must also mention a wise old man who became a friend and mentor to me in the Papa 2 era. He was always the go-to person for my challenges and difficulties. His was a rare balance of acceptance and encouragement. With him I didn’t feel judged. Though I ignored some of the most important suggestions he gave me for my life, we got along pretty well. It was only on his sudden demise that I realised that he was like a father figure to me. His departure left me feeling exposed to the world. It was only then that I realised that he was a kind of Papa X for me. A father I did not have but made a choice to honour. Today when I look at my choices (of both career and relationships), they seem to be more similar to Papa X’s. So back to Papa 2 now. Inevitably, my education came to an end and I hit the world, ready to take it on. I thought it would be a breeze, and I had beginner’s luck. But soon, life with all its messiness began to emerge. The challenge of doing something, the intricate behaviour of people, and the general difficulty of succeeding, all hit me like a slap in my face. Suddenly, all that Papa had accomplished dawned on me in a whole new light! Things must have been difficult for him too, and he never even let us know. And I, who had drifted away from him, began to value his journey and struggles. Slowly, I also began to see that some of my actions were uncannily similar to Papa’s. I thought I was rebelling against him all the time, but in his 30s a man discovers his dad within himself. Papa 3 The qualities he represented, the ones that I had detested, were precisely the ones that I needed now. Slowly I connected to my roots, to the legacy that he had given me. Papa 3 was here. A man I carried in my behaviour, ideas, and genes. As much as I had tried, I could never be disconnected from him. It was time to re-establish my connection with Papa 3. I realised that all I knew about him had been filtered through Mama. Slowly, I began to understand him as a person and the more I understood him, the more I understood myself. As time passed Papa 3 retired. I could see his energy reducing, the wrinkles forming. His hands felt soft, not made of steel. I realised that my achievements were planted in the ground of his sacrifices. My freedom was enabled by the financial base that Papa had spent a lifetime building. And if there was someone out there looking out for me, it was Papa 3. Papa 4 With the passing years, I am becoming more and more of my own person. In the Way of the Superior Man, David Deida says, live as if your father is dead, which means to stand on your own feet, be a man in your own right. It is now time to parent my parents. It is time to meet Papa 4, a person who is more a bro than a dad. He is a man to whom I can reveal myself more and more. A man with whom I can have healthy disagreements, and still feel inexplicably fond of. A man who ultimately belongs to my tribe. The tribe of men. Of fathers and sons. And now, I have a chance to live my life as a Papa all over – there is someone (my little girl) who looks at me and says, here is Papa 1. About the author : Abhishek Thakore is a stand-up philosopher, full-time lover of life, and the founder of The Blue Ribbon Movement.
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