“Go ahead if you think it is OK.” This was the typical response of my father to all matters that were referred to him for advice in our family. For him all those matters were too trivial to apply his mind on and to allow them to distract him from his favorite hobby, reading books. When at home, he would be seen most of the time engrossed in his book, the latest publication of The Oxford University Press. Although it would have been enough for anyone in his place to just go through introduction pages of a book in order to promote it, as their Chief Representative for Northern India, but for my father it was essential to read the full text before talking about it to anyone. He could not imagine how someone could promote a book without having thoroughly gone through the book and formed his opinion on different aspects of each chapter there in. An interesting example was when he received the Oxford Encyclopedia, one of its earliest editions, for promoting it in colleges. He not only went through the entire volume from beginning to the end, but also marked many portions with noting on the margin, indicating what according to him could be a more appropriate meaning or elaboration of the particular words. He had received several letters of appreciation from his bosses in London for bringing to their knowledge the grammatical or factual flaws that he found in the books, which they would correct in the subsequent editions. Sitting on his classic easy cane chair with hookah on his side, kept alive by frequent refilling with burning charcoal by the old family servant, he would be engrossed in the new arrival from the publishers till past midnight, when the rest of the family would be fast asleep.
My father's pre-occupation with two jobs, one as teacher of English literature and the other as chief representative of the Oxford University Press, plus his love for books, left him little time for participating in day to day activities of the family. My mother took it graciously and not only never complained about it, but did her best to compensate for father's non-availability by devoting all her time to running the house and raising her children, the way no other mother in the world would do better. Indeed, she was a perfect partner for my father by being opposite of him in many ways. As much my father liked to be left alone with his books, my mother loved to be in the midst of family members and her friends, both big in numbers. Her greatest happiness was in hosting guests, friends and relatives, some of them coming from other cities and over staying for weeks. It was God's grace, and my father's own way of expressing love for her and the family, that my mother was never ever short of money, whatever our extravagant needs be.
Tilak Rishi – excerpts from my book, Paradise Lost and Found.