A strange timely thing happened recently. I was sitting in a cafe with my father when all of a sudden an elderly woman started shouting my name.
I stood and greeted this stranger. She explained she had never met me but was incredibly proud of me and hugged me.
I turned and introduced her to my father and she immediately hugged him and said, “you must be so proud of your son”.
As she left, she said, “I am so happy that you spend time with your father”. Maybe the angels send strangers to speak to us.
I looked in silence at my father thinking that neither that lady nor my father have any idea of how proud I am of him. My father did not have any high education qualifications when he came to this country but years later he floated his company on the stock market. And in the process he created jobs he and he treated all his employees fair square and with great care. All that is universally respected by his friends and family alike.
This man who in a VW with me and his mom and a couple of relatives had the guts to drive from the UK to India.
Who was caught up with me in riots and tear gas in India, but never once panicked, and guided me to safety.
When I wrote my first book, dedicated to him, the first thing my uncle said to me was “make sure the authors name, your name, includes your middle initial - which by tradition is your father’s name, and know that any of your achievements are his too”. And I did. And when I was admitted to Oxford, I simply told him by saying “we did it”. Becoming a Barrister and then Oxford Fellow followed, advising Prime Ministers and flying around the world by my country, for my country, and with each unlikely success I would remind him of the promise I made to him when I was a child “I told you I won’t let you down”.
It was a lie; I let him down many times. But he would never speak of it.
This man who through all hardships never once did I see him fear anything. Ever. Not even death itself when it looked imminent. He was always courage personified and from that I took strength as he knew I would.
A man who in the face of humiliations kept his dignity whilst others lost theirs. Who taught me the meaning of character even when time and again mine failed, his never did. Who taught me to do my duty though the heavens fall. Who taught me in anger to be silent, because “speak in anger and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” And in my provoked silences he has been the most proud of me and my devotion to family too.
I see why my mother is devoted to him in love after all these years - patiently spending hours by his bedside when he was unwell - never a complaint, always knowing every medication and timing meticulously. Her patient respect for him born out of his having earnt it.
My whole life I’ve spent being proud of him and when in the last week a friend said that I’m a good son, I’m embarrassed to say that it is not true. That I am not, I know, and will not be talked out of it. If only they and that lady today could see what I see.
If I have seen further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton.