Days with my father
I don’t remember much about my father. He died when I was seven and my clearest memories of him is one where I’m watching the Jungle Book with him. Mowgli, Sher Khan, Baloo and the rest. Before I learned of Rudyard Kipling, before I learned of the British India, the Raj and colonialism, before everything, I laughed at Baloo’s songs and Mowgli’s antics, I was scared by Sher Khan and Kaa, the snake (whose Trust in Me easily hypnotised me, just like it did Mowgli) and I was nervous everytime Louie the Monkey King came on.
But remember the bit, around the end of the film with the vultures who have nothing to do? “What do you wanna do today?” “I don’t know, what do you wanna do?” “I don’t know, what do you wanna do?” This incessant back and forth was amusing to me as a child. And my father, as they came on, would mimic them. His shoulders undulating like those of the vultures on screen and then he’s say, “What do you wanna do today?”
That’s my most vivid memory. It’s not one supremely important, and its not even one profound. Its simple, and that’s the way I’d like to remember him.
There are, of course, regrets that I have. All my relatives and family tell me that I’m the spitting image of my father, personality-wise. “Like a carbon copy,” says my grandmother. We listen to the same music, we read the same books and we even have the same taste in clothes, and women. Thats my biggest regret. That I never got to talk to him about all of this. I think of all the conversations we could’ve had. And he wrote too. Like me. And I found a story of his some time back, it was good. It really was good. We could’ve grown together.
Recently, I came across this website: Philip Toledano’s Days with my Father and it has spurred me to this blog entry. It is a wonderful website. The photography is great, its part of a story, a narrative, seamless and seamed at the same time. The words that accompany form the bones, the skeleton while the photos are the meat and muscles, they fill out the body, give it shape and size and form. The photographs grow as his father fades slowly. Its an end that both father and son have come to accept. I wish I had had that luxury.