A friend rang me the other day and wanted to know if I could help his friend's father pen his memoirs. The 'protagonist' in question, he said, is 76, a doctor, with adventurous stories of his service years in the Andamans. "He sounds like a nice person," said my friend. "And I thought of you 'cos you would lend him a patient ear." Now, whatever gave him that idea.
After a lot of hemming and hawing, I've said 'yes' to the project. Yes, it could give me a lot of insight into how different medical practice, and life in general, was over 50 years ago and, as I have learned from my father, old people have a remarkable way of 'anecdotising' their lives, which always seems immensely more enjoyable and exotic than our everyday tales.
I just hope I am able to be 'the patient ear' my friend intended. My dad, who tells interesting stories of his first rubber chappal, first watch and the time he walked from Alappuzha to Ernakulam, would say I have a long way to go. But you have to forgive me for tuning out of his stories at times: he may be recounting it to a visitor but hey, I have been hearing them for the the past 31 years!!
Last year, I told my dad to write down all his childhood tales (which involve a lot of girl-chasing, drinking bouts and general roguish behaviour among the good times like winning basketball championships). he hasn't gotten down to it yet but maybe once I'm done with this project, and with my enhanced reserves of patience, I'll help him do it. Just hold me to my word, guys.