Samsara

| 3 MINUTE READ | sometimes we are fulfilled by the promises we make

All limitations begin when we see our lives as a story. And ourselves as a character in it.  

A few minutes past 4am on a cold December in 1995, my eyes opened to the sound of my landlord’s voice streaming onto the terrace and into my room. There was a phone call for me next door at his elder brother’s house. My father had just died.  

On the flight back home, there was a lingering sense of being uncertain of my own circumstances. Like it belonged to someone else. Turning me into an imposter in my own body. And then everything fell quiet.

Thirteen days later I was back on site in Panipat. From a student preparing to escape all the problems that plagued my father and his company – my life suddenly became a native adventure. The winter fog, that reduced visibility to five feet, made it resemble a dream.

A few months earlier, our project manager at Panipat suddenly quit. My father moved to site to replace him and I went along to help. We were struggling to emerge from bankruptcy. Fallen off a cliff, still alive and now preparing ourselves for the long climb back. Enveloped by a sense of destiny and vulnerable to every minor setback. In the absence of cash, some management principles lose their substance. Ideas of structure and delegation become irrelevant. The relationship between work and survival becomes direct, visible and in some strange ways – inspiringly simpler.

I had completed my applications to Cornell for a post graduate program. On the train ride up north, I told my father that I would probably never return to take over his business once I left. I was looking to him –  burdened by the recent loss of a son and the weight of reviving a defeated army – for comfort. And that’s what he offered me. He asked me to live my life in a way that gave me peace and joy. Gentle, kind, sincere.

On site, the hydraulic presses were being prepared for operation. A temporary plant was being readied – to house, handle and fabricate the steel plates. I looked at the stacks of large thick plates laid out in two rows. Each of these 350 plates cost as much as a sedan that we could not afford. I gauged their value through the lens of my own unfulfilled desires. These plates became our onsite fleet. Each of which would be slowly pressed into segments of a sphere that would be welded together to store LPG at the refinery.  

One morning we stepped out of the site office together. I watched my father giving meticulous instructions to galvanize this assortment of steel, machines and men into creative activity. In that moment, my father was a conductor and this was his symphony. Until then all I had seen was the dark underbelly of a failing enterprise. A stream of phone calls from abusive creditors, some of whom would be parked in our living room each morning. A gradual erosion in the muscle to manage small things – the delayed repair of household appliances, the default in payment of college fees. Significant work milestones from better days now hovered around as painful memories that made me wince when I saw a business newspaper or magazine. Each evening as my father and grandfather returned from work, an uncertain tentativeness tiptoed around hope.  We lived with a constant alertness to navigate within the shrinking perimeters of what we could afford.   

But all I could see that day on site in my father was a man at peace with himself and calmly immersed in his work. It inspired me. A darkness I had been holding onto lifted. Over dinner that evening I told him I would definitely return to work with him. And how proud I was to be his son.   

A few days after his death, I found a letter on my desk in the office. From Cornell, offering me a seat next summer. I slipped it into my drawer. My relationship with my father had primarily been about me. About all that I needed from him. But in his last months, I felt grateful that in my promise to him was a clear expression of how much I admired and loved him.

It is assumed that people overcome life’s challenges through resolve. But that is being deceived by the surface of things. Sometimes the difficult events of our lives propel us into anguish. A noisy confusion. Like a swimmer fighting to save himself from drowning. At other times they cleanse us into a silent awareness. A swimmer allowing the waves of his own turmoil to buoy and carry him forward. These are always the choices we have. And my father . He chose well.    

Last year while sorting through documents in my office library, I came across the Cornell admit letter and shared it with my wife. She asked me if I ever missed going there. I never did. Because that small glimpse of my father on site so many decades ago brought with it an epiphany. That a life guided by love and spontaneity eclipses the tyranny of hope and expectations.       

On that day my life became a river. Made me ready to go wherever it took me.    

my beautiful father

Samsara – the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.

85 thoughts on “Samsara

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  1. Really very touching but that smile on our parents face when we fulfill their wish is the one we can never forget. But you have sailed through successfully for the past 25 years 🙏🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always difficult to share matters so close to the heart. If life isn’t a dilemma then what is it? We resolve it as we move along, in bits and pieces, hammering and welding together the scraps that we can salvage. I’m so glad that you were able to make peace with yourself and your circumstances. Choices made in the present can only be condemned or cherished in the future. Acceptance is the path to liberation. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Certain event changes the course of life one plans or aspires. Your father must have been a gifted person that even in the strom he was in that time, he could clearly think through and allowed you to lead a life as you may like to lead with peace and joy. Even when he gave you choice you opted a hard course is on account of value system inculcated in you by the family…It required phenominal courage at that time to take over and resurrect the near bankrupt business when greener pastures in USA was clearly in your reach. The struggle you went through in bringing the business back on rails made you a person perhaps far better than perhaps what you would have been had you chosen the easy option.

      Life at the end is all about making the best of what is delivered to you by almighty for reasons beyond our comprehension.

      Your narration is very powerful..

      Like

      1. Such a honest, respectful and humble relationship with your dad. He sure would have been a wonderful soul. Your life is an inspiration to all. May your positivity and courage spread like wild fire. Stay Blessed Always.

        Like

  3. Such honest and humble biography; when many other corporates would take pains to conceal the not so good past, you take pride in telling what were and what you are. Salute. And as always, the narration is splendid with simplicity and warmth.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes, it is an amazing thing to realise all those hopes and dreams can mean very little when something so profound comes knocking. And a love unrealised till it mattered will do that, and as you said, allow us to travel with the current instead of trying to cross it. Great post kind sir, and for allowing us to see a light in this wilderness ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very touching journey alongside your father.

    It is when we recall our troublesome days, our hearts reflect gratitude and blessings…those were the days when silent bonding establishes itself silently deep within, we live beyond our selves realizing the value of the .precious “whole”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Ananda, what a beautiful gift your father gave you, and you him. Your words touched me deeply, and triggered memories of my own father, and choices made…or not.
    What a loving tribute. Thank you for sharing❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Anand, I am writing this comment as tears stream down my eyes. This story is one of love, loss, resilience and understanding the things underneath the surface that truly matter. You are a man of great intellectual and creative gifts. Most importantly, however, you possess a value system that cannot be compromised. I am honored you (and your mom) are part of my life, and you both inspire me to keep moving forward. Thank you, as always, for sharing your life in such an honest and poignant way. PS: your father is not only handsome, but possesses an incredible glow of happiness. He truly lived a WONDERFUL life in the full sense of the word! What an example to us all. 🤍🤍

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lovely & beautifully expressed as always – you’ve been blessed to have such a father. There is indeed a wonderful glow about him in that photo. Such waters are tough to navigate sometimes, but they do cleanse us if we allow it. It’s a choice we all have to make x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Anand,

    Excellent recollection and write up. When I read about the message of your father’s demise, tears welled up and started flowing. He was a great man. I was lucky to be associated with him for about 20 eventful years. That experience only put me in a comfortable position in Singapore.

    God bless you all.

    Regards,

    Rajmohan

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful. Could relate to everthing you mentioned. Brought back memories of RVR. He used to say that despite the crushing pressure at work, he would always have a good night sleep, ready to face the problems the world threw at him. I enjoyed my moments with him. He will be proud with what you have achieved.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Anand,
    Superb recollection..We are proud to say that we were with your Father and Grand Father and their guidance had given a shape to us in Construction Field. God Bless you Anand..
    G. Srinivasan

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Anand,

    What a touching beautiful tribute to your wonderful father. He , I always felt was a God realised soul. Wonderful,Soft spoken and compassionate.
    I am blessed to have met him a few times and his sincerity and honesty always touched me.
    Your value system which is rock solid ,is imbibed after watching your father and ofcourse your mother, whose presence in my life is a great gift, I hugely cherish.

    You have shared your story so beautifully with out a trace of regret ,for not going to Cornell __and getting the business back on track. which must have been a herculian task.
    We get choices to make in life and in retrospect I am sure you made the right choice.
    Your father must be so so proud of you.I feel , very strongly that our loved ones are around us ,as our guardian angels.
    Beautiful poignant reflection so wonderfully written., Anand.!!! it brought tears to my eyes__ and one could sense the anguish,you at such a young age had to go through, and ofcourse your mom too.
    Especially with the heartbreaking demise of Shyam too.
    . God bless you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. How life changes in small moments!!

    Whether witnessing your father, focused on the task at hand, rather than cowering from fear or by your choice to stay and join him— is hard to discern.

    But those small moments are catalysts for life changing decisions.

    You were lucky to have such a role model to follow.

    Sad loss for a young man—but he taught you lessons to last a lifetime.

    Thank you for sharing your memories in lovely language.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dear Anand

    Tough conditions make a person tough.You gained excellent experience and learned a lot from your father.He was a very hard worker and very committed to his work.He was a perfect example of Atmbharat in the tankage industry in India.

    I wish you all the success and and hope that you will add to the achievements of your father.

    Regards
    GRS

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Very sensitive message.

    When I read this I could understand your feelings. Your father could never tell no to your grandfather, whatever his request .

    Likewise, while he felt that you should continue the business, he never tried to stop you for going oversees for your higher studies.

    Atlast fate decided that you should continue the business since that was RVRs unspoken wish. One he never forced on you.

    One just cannot miss his love and affection.

    He was a great man. None can compare with his divine temperament. but it was unfortunate that he did not live to see the revival of his lifes work .

    When he was at work, he would forget evereything including his lunch or tiffin.

    when the job is successful, his happiness could not be measured.

    I am moved but how you express your feelings which proves that you are chota RVR.

    R.Kannan.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear Anand

    I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work with RVR. A most humble, down to earth and respected person. I cherish my association with such a legend (As an auditor, I very well know that there were no questions asked when something was certified/approved/signed by RVR)

    I feel happy and proud to be involved, is a small way at least, in revival of RVR’s dream to make VTV once again a firm of international repute. And am very very happy that U are successfully carrying forward his legacy of knowledge, kindness and humbleness.

    Best Wishes to U All at VTV
    🙏🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A very powerful piece ! Straight from the heart…it captures the wonderful human being your father was ..and your love for him. Everyone I speak to in the company fondly remembers him even today ..more than 25 years after his passing away..and always refer to him as the compassionate person, a wonderful boss and a brilliant engineer ! Once more ….this piece is very poignant !

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “It is assumed that people overcome life’s challenges through resolve. But that is being deceived by the surface of things. Sometimes the difficult events of our lives propel us into anguish. A noisy confusion. Like a swimmer fighting to save himself from drowning. At other times they cleanse us into a silent awareness. A swimmer allowing the waves of his own turmoil to buoy and carry him forward. These are always the choices we have. And my father . He chose well.”

    As always, the post is touching, moving, authentic and deep. But, the paragraph above captured it all. It is a down-to-earth and realistic reflection of how challenges help us, hurt us, affect us and shape us, for better or worse. There is always the romanticism attached to overcoming challenges with resolve. But, resolve while always desirable, is only a necessary condition but unfortunately not always sufficient. Many factors have to arrange themselves to support us and fortify our resolve.

    They may or may not happen. While we deal with the challenge, it is always not a story of bravery and fortitude. It is also about anguish, confusion and the fight to keep the head above the water. It is not easy.

    That you acknowledge them here shows that you are grounded. That your father chose well is reflected in your acknowledgement of that reality by you. Whether direct or indirect, deliberate or by example, he has inspired you, guided you and moulded you.

    He chose well and it appears that you have chosen well too.

    Wonderful. God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Beautiful, Anand. It reminded me of a Rumi quote;
    “When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me. There is a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The absence of a father in the journey of life shakes the rest of life. This sad experience will last a lifetime ,I am also experiencing such misfortune.
      Your article on your father pays true homage to him. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  20. You have pulled me in. Tears and tears so I couldn’t continue reading. Your experience of human love gives hope and inspiration, certainly to me, and I imagine to all your readers. Thank you for all you give us.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That was one of the most poignant pieces of yours that I have read! Poignant, because it resonates in each one of us.

    You start perfectly – the minute one sees himself as a character in his story, a distance is created. ‘You’ are out of the picture, the character moves through the dictates of the unfolding narrative, and one watches with an objective fascination and understanding too because one’s ‘self’ is also in the story and the experience is vivid and complete.

    Samsara is a crucible, sometimes excruciatingly tedious, sometimes volatile and chaotic. But inevitable. That’s why we are born into it, that’s why we are born at all. Each soul has to go through it, no one is exempt. As you go through the churn and rise out of it, you come out tempered well, like beaten gold. Lessons are learnt, understandings happen, and maturing moves towards fruition. It is all in your reaction and your response. If your reaction is gauche and your response is wanting, back you go in again, into the crucible, to churn some more. A final peace borne out of understanding, acceptance and the ensuing wisdom is the only sign that one has surfaced from the whirlpool.

    Life is the only university and experience, the best teacher. What graduation can compare to the final test that you took when you watched your father conducting his symphony at the steel machines and what answer can you give that can compare to the words spoken to your father that night? Something happened then, between father and son. A sudden clearing up of the fog, a resolution between minds and hearts and a circle completed.
    Can a Cornell or a Harvard degree even come close?

    Fortunate are those who are granted these epiphanous moments!
    God Bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank you for the depth and beauty you bring even to samsara. My father also died in 1995. Mine was a very different story. I envy yours in some ways, but I accept my sorrow as a part of who I am. This.
    Kind wishes to you, Ananda. May you and yours remain well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very touching tribute to your respected father.I was totally lost while going through your post which was full of emotions.Tears welled my eyes when I read the piece of advice given to you by your beloved father when you mentioned to him about your decision to peruse higher studies and may not join him in the business.What a great person he was.The way in which you all overcome the crisis,I have no words to applaud.May God be with you always.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. What a beautiful tribute to a father who clearly loved his family . I’m glad you have no regrets and that you stayed back to steer the ship .

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Hi
    For this particular write up, I don’t have words to comment on. Only relief in the fact that love and spontaneity do exist in the world, that emotions matter beyond everything else.

    This Saturday morning is richer because of the read.

    Thanks for sharing what is so close to the heart.

    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Beautifully penned. Its great to carry the legacy of such a great man. I think somewhere those vibes are still present at VTV that whoever is associated feels the compassion and humbleness.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Anand can understand the emotions behind Ananda when you wrote it . Those who knew your father and probably the whole of the Fabrication community would feel the same . I had been his admirer since my graduation days . Yes indeed you had a great father in him.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. You have overcome the sad loss of your father and brother…And you have chosen to hold on to optimism instead of dwelling on negativity. This is a result of his great upbringing. Hope is watching from heavens and is proud of you. A touching and soulful tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. It was really nice to hear your encouraging motivational factual happenings. Fortunately I was also a part of the Panipat Refinery team & has close interactions with your father.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Anand,
    As usual your skill of expression, genetic from Sri R. Ramanujam..
    One can’t suffer ever… There is always a Return of Ringo…
    You guys deserve a Lot…
    Reason.. Provided fire, in the kitchen for thousands of families..
    God always does it.
    I wish to meet you.
    Salutes dear,
    Regards to your Family.
    Ramakrishnan

    PS. I use to say If RR was in politics he would have been the PM.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Anand anna,

    I am a big fan of your writings, yet this one was different. Just like the sheer bhaava of a great musical piece transports the listener to a different zone and everything else – including the technical nuances of the piece – are rendered immaterial, this one was just so profound, poignant and touching that I am not going to mention the brilliant writing. It is obvious that your love and regard for your father has inspired the best out of you. I have never met your father, have only heard about him a little bit. Having read this, though, I feel like I knew him all along.

    Chandrashekhar K

    Liked by 2 people

  31. What a fantastic tribute to your father and your love for him. Your ability to relive and articulate your journey is amazing and would be welcome succour for many youngsters who may be faced with similar circumstances, especially in today’s turbulent time. What I love about your story, is that it is full of love and respect and there is not an iota of resentment. You are blessed to have such a temperament. More power to you and thanks for sharing, as always, Anand :).

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Wonderfully written, such an inspiring story. I have heard it before from you but reading it, gives so much depth to it. The feelings expressed in the blog between RVR and you are so strong and inspiring.
    I liked these lines in particular “The relationship between work and survival becomes direct, visible and in some strange ways – inspiringly simpler.” because it reminds me of working with RVR, how he worked hard, dedicatedly and continuously even till the end.
    You stepping up for the company during its difficult time, has made us what we are today.

    Like

  33. Beautiful expressions in writing and truth honoring your father in honor and noble truths Ananda.
    There is so much wisdom and compassion in your poem and his words and bright smile have definitely been passed down to you. In light we go forth and shine❣️✨

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Powerful messages in your inspiring story, Ananda. I enjoyed many aspects of your story and love how the Cornell letter framed your story. Well done. Your father left a legacy.

    Like

  35. Very well expressed your feelings and a great tribute to your father. Considering the difficulties faced by you after your father left for heavenly abode, you have come out with flying colors due to your hard work & dedication and blessings of your father in bringing the company to greater heights.

    Like

  36. I have read about love for a Parent being expressed, even heard some talk about it. Yet in Anand’s celebration of who his Father was and meant to him I read beyond love, gratitude, reverence and acknowledgement, a genuine sense of identification.
    Anand begins his piece by sharing that we limit ourselves by telling a story, yet again his personal story shared with empathy, expands my vision of what and who a Father can be for his son. Demonstration of values, living by them and not forcing it upon Anand; carrying the unresolved sadness of Shyam passing on, shows a side of my own Father, who I never really knew, other than what people have said about him or the experience of mutuality that Anand felt. The most endearing part of the piece is being there for one another; giving up one’s aspiration yet not regretting it. I have learnt what a “Father/son bond means”. Thank you.

    Like

  37. Your “Yes “must have been best gift you gave to your father .
    You have also proved that you have made aright choice .
    I really enjoyed reading your emotional flash back.
    RDP

    Like

  38. Anand it was really very touching real life event which you have described. I feel a bit guilty that I was at Panipat in those days but we were never so close that you could explain such dire working conditions those days . in fact in Panipat project all contractors were in financial difficulty due to Steel price increases and fixed price contracts awarded.
    For me it is just rerun of entire setup of VTV at Panipat project site . I used to visit sites of all contractors but not every day . In our race to complete the project we always used to push all our business partners to the hilt . Naturally, we lacked the human side of relationships. Only work mattred .
    In retrospect I am feeling guilty now . You were in such difficulty was not known to me .
    Your relationships with your father is so touching. Your not attending a premiere university to take VTV in its future path is well known to me & I respect and admire your hard work. In fact I became your admirer due to this struggle & immense knowledge you have acquired. My regrets for not understanding at right time . I have made up a little & surely would try more & more .
    My regards to entire VTV family.

    Like

  39. “I gauged their value through the lens of my own unfulfilled desires.” You do such a wonderful job–in such a small space–showing how you matured, with your father’s fine example. I love how you compare him to a conductor of an orchestra. And that image of a river. I can’t think of a better way to live a life than to be guided by love each day. Really nice piece of writing, and I am sorry for your loss of your father. It does seem you learned important, lasting lessons from him.

    Like

  40. Deeply moving, Ananda. I was blessed with having my father long enough for me to have become a father myself, and thus to understand the man and his feelings better. I remember how careless I was of my parents’ love when I was a student, and think how much harder it must have been for you to lose him then. You write beautifully.

    Like

  41. another masterpiece from you Anand! heartwarming and heart breaking at the same time!
    loved your comparison of the composer and his symphony!

    Like

  42. Am spellbound by the beautiful way you express yourself dear Anand!!
    Memories of your home 🏡 where we gathered weekly come flooding back! Your father was one of the kindest, most gracious people I have ever known. You have an incredible legacy, and it reflects in your writing, your reaching out to share. God bless you

    Like

  43. Very beautiful, Ananda.
    Such a good sense for choosing a title…
    The perspective you are offering through these sincere memories is enlightening to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Lovely tribute and a great read as always Anand! I have a very vague memory of ‘Babu’ but my nanima spoke about him very fondly. She would say she must have been related to him in another birth.. was good to read about him.

    Like

  45. Behind smile of your father there were turmoil moments of pain and anguish.Your comment is an acknowledgment of your gratitude, respect and admiration for your father.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Anand….You have in a way incidentally confirmed that “Shlokam engenders from Shokam”. Age often provides the wisdom and the clarity – to reinterpret and also enhance the “understanding” of the events of the past – recent or distant – good, bad or ugly. “Life” finally, in its highest state is “Understanding”…

    Like

  47. ‘ A swimmer allowing the waves of his own turmoil to buoy and carry him forward.’…..I love this analogy. Anand, you write so beautifully and from the heart. thank you so much for what you contribute to the world. Namaste.

    Like

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