One of our favourite games is, “Where is Appa?” now why Appa you’d ask? It’s not really a part of a Bengali’s vocabulary! Well, there’s a story behind it.
One of the first films that I missed watching in the theatres after V’s birth was Ra.One. When months later I saw it on Tata Sky I realised that I was never the target audience! It doesn’t matter what I thought about the film because that’s not the point here, what is that we took back a few things from the film. One of them was the name that young Prateik called his father, Appa…we loved it so much this A started calling himself Appa. So, “come to Appa”,”Appa will play with V”, “Appa will carry V”‘ “Appa will put V to sleep”…that’s how it began. V was then of course too young (just about 3 months) to understand who’s Appa, but then it was sheer fun for us. Especially since A had been away from his boy for so long that I really indulged his paternal love. A few weeks later, when V and I came to Delhi that’s when the Skype sessions began with the grandparents back in Jamshedpur. As V was growing up, a month at a time he was becoming more active. He could sit up gradually and the Skype sessions we truly fun!
In May however, V and I left Appa behind in Delhi once again when we returned to Jamshedpur to nurse V’s Mama. The Skype sessions were on, but this time it was Appa on the other side of the computer. For almost two months , V and his Appa met over Skype. V learnt to crawl, his first set of pearlies sprouted, he ate big meals that included fish and chicken, he learnt to play in the tub, bang his toys and get off the bed. V showed off everything to his Appa on Skype, and perhaps for him at that time Appa was the man he saw in the computer.
Back in Delhi I still ask him, “Baby, where is Appa?” The poor thing looks at the picture of his father and me on the wall and points at his father! One would think that this is perhaps because he spends most of his day with his mother, but but, no…his Appa continues to be in a picture on the wall even when his father asks him, “Vihaan, where is Appa?”
There is something endearing in the word Appa, and for the time being if Appa doesn’t really mind that, perhaps V can really call him that once he grows up.
As a child, I had a father who was notorious for going out on business tours. I describe them as notorious because he would tell Maa that he’d be back in 3 days, but he’d return after 3 weeks! Those were the days of poor connectivity, no phones, mobiles, pagers, FB, Twitter…Maa had no way to find out where was Baba. That was also the time when I had grown used to saying, “I have two fathers!” How, if I was asked, I’d point at my father’s picture and say, “One in the picture and the other one who has gone out for work!”
I think there is something I really passed on in my genes…