Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Inheritance

The Inheritance


All through my life, my relatives and friends were in awe of my father. He was a role model to many. Was highly educated, had a striking overbearing appearance,was self made, highly disciplined, intelligent, and sauve. He truly had a larger than life, gregarious exuberant personality that anyone would instantly get attracted to.
My mother was not so highly educated, but was gifted in the arts domain. She was almost a professional singer, was a talented artiste and painter, and above all a very efficient home maker. She brought us up in austerity, never belittled  my father's modest means when they both were setting up their lives. Her demeanor and attitude portrayed an abundance in frugality, affluence in austerity.
With the passage of time, as i made a career as a neurosurgeon, almost everyone insinuated  my academics and intelligence being the sole legacy of my father. As i started weilding the pen and contributing in the Speaking Tree column, everyone concluded that i had inherited this legacy from my father too. He was quite a prolific writer, and had written two books
' The Lighter Side of Management'  a satirical take on the corporate culture and then another more academic one titled " Knowledge Managment".
I did garner accolades and appreciation and felt very trite and smug with the inevitable comparisons to  my father.
In a lighter moment one day, my mother happened to express a trace of regret about not contributing  anything significant as a legacy from her side.
I really felt a trifle sad as i heard these words but it triggered my thought process in a totally different and rather tangential direction.
       As i reminisced about my childhood  i remembered my mother being very happy with the smaller pleasures of life. She never harboured any greed or lust for comforts, appliances or lifestyles of  the people around, which she did not have. She had an air of contentment, a realistic, grounded attitude that had the fragrance of happiness. She was very home proud and added that  intangible element to the nest, which makes all  the difference between house and home.  She never  gave my father any indication of inadequacy, financial or otherwise. She made all of us feel rich even at the end of the month when the finances were stretched thin. She convinced me effectively, the sheer wastefulness of buying new shoes when there was a small hole in the sole of the ones I was using. She was diplomatic and skillful in ensuring that we  never got the impression of living frugally. She always ensured that there was always enough of surplus food to go around for the unexpected visitor. Never heard  the sound of insufficency, the sound of scraping the bottom of the serving bowl. We were never affluent but her resourceful, and measured approach always ensured an inexhaustible supply of the necessities of life.
After those pensive and poignant moments, I caught my ageing mothers hand and told her that she had passed on the greatest gift as her legacy.  The gift of contentment. The  wisdom of knowing that  wealth was more than  affluent lifestyles, expensive attires or swollen bank balances. Wealth was a state of happiness and contentment which money could never afford. Wealth was the value system that made all of us conscientious and conpassionate. Wealth was a state of mind.
         I was left wondering  with doubts about what was a greater legacy.Was it the virtues and skills to acquire the means of prosperity or then a mindset that saw prosperity in whatever the means could afford.

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