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STP Fixations: The Piku To My Father - An Emotion That Plays On Loop

STP Fixations is a series dedicated to anything and everything that captures our attention - a scene, anecdote, dialogue, character or a trivial, random bizarreness. In our first, this Father's Day, we start with Piku. 

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STP Fixations, Piku

STP Fixations is a series dedicated to anything and everything that captures our attention - a scene, anecdote, dialogue, character or a trivial, random bizarreness. A fixation over a memory that sometimes makes sense (or sometimes doesn’t) but is stuck in our hearts and minds long after the moment is over. In our first fixation, we start with Piku

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Piku wasn’t made for me alone, but it still feels personal

The first introspection I had when I stumbled upon a chance to write for this series was Piku. While I don’t particularly wait for Father’s Day every year to enjoy my re-run of this film ever since it was released in 2015, this year’s experience is a different story. I could end up writing a dissertation on the film but I’ll stick to a scene for now.

Piku, the story of a father-daughter duo (played by Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan) who embark on a road trip to their native home in Calcutta, touches many emotional chords for me. No, Piku wasn’t made for me alone, but it still feels personal. I came to watch the film much after than 2015 because that was the year when I, at 22, faced an uncertain circumstance that was one of my first trysts with ‘life isn’t always a bed of roses.’

The scene between Rana (Irrfan) and Piku (Padukone), by the ghat in Benaras, and later in Calcutta relishing on rolls, where the duo discusses life and its complications gets me each time. Unlike Piku’s Baba, my 66-year-old dad isn’t troubled with constipation - he is a survivor of a long-standing heart and kidney disease.

Earlier this month, when my dad was hospitalised for a procedure, I got scared for the first time in nine years. I felt as if I couldn't handle the situation anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always frightening to see a parent in the hospital, but mine has been in it umpteen times since 2009, and that meant my brother and I didn’t have the choice, or the bandwidth to take it easy and feel a lot during our hospital runs. It may sound steep but we are now used to such situations, know exactly how to handle them, and are two steps ahead of mishaps. We try.

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There are scenes where Piku walks people through her Baba's medications, and then lashes back at him when he displays his know-it-all attitude. The endearing emotion with which Padukone and Bachchan have aced these scenes reflects the situation of several households of caregivers I know, including mine. 

I've had to accept the change life threw my way, and take control of the situation (take it from my experience - sometimes, you must let go of control too). In a scene, Piku tells Rana, “Ek time ke baad, maa baap ko zinda rakhna padhta hai, aur woh kaam bachon ka hai.” For me, too, it feels like a foremost responsibility to ensure my dad does not miss a single dose of medicine, a single test, or any follow-up check that is required to ensure his organs stay intact. 

In 2016, a few months after my dad’s successful kidney transplant (thanks to my mom who gave him a life, literally, as a donor), he developed a life-threatening infection. We were told he may not make it through the night, but he did. He came out of every life-threatening situation time and again after that. It’s because of that statement I heard as a 23-year-old girl, that I became more alert to everything that could help to not just keep him alive but also live his best life. My father loves living, and I knew I had a big role to play in ensuring he gets to do that. Like Piku, I have had my frustrating moments too; my dad isn’t exactly an easy-going patient, he is popular on a particular hospital floor for his "chik-chiks" but with all his human flaws, I have undeterred love and regard for him.  

My brother jokingly calls me a hospital coordinator because I have often been so obsessed with the way my father is receiving IVs, seeing his doctors in certain gaps, or that his TAC level test (medicine toxicity testing sample) is done at sharp 8:45 AM given the dosage defined so there are no discrepancies in his kidney function. The point being, that if anything needs to be done to ensure my he continues to live in good health and spirit, I want to be there to make it happen. My life is not similar to Piku's; different experiences, different ambitions, different logistics. What connects me to her character is her undeterred spirit to ensure the well-being of her father against all odds. 

Being a daughter teaches me both patience and humility; being a daughter to a father who has, for the most part, ensured that I have the best seat to varied life experiences, teaches me gratitude; and finally, being a daughter to a father who makes the most of his life, makes plans and fulfils them as if he's 30 despite his degrading health, teaches me to be a fighter.

In his blog, The Best Way To Raise Kids Is to Watch Yourself Recede, author Will Leitch articulated, “We have to fade from the story so they can author their own.” It's a line that will stay with me forever because it tells me of what is and what will be, and why, today more than ever, I have to make the most of what I have with my father - inspiration, laughter, and the "chik-chik" at the hospital. 

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