My speech at my father's funeral:
Many who met my father for the first time must have thought that here was a friendly, gentle and unassuming man. And yes, he was these things, but he was also much, much more. My father was a passionate, curious and intense man who saw life as a rich map to explore.
As soon as he completed his degree in India he was off to explore the world. He travelled to China, alone and against his parents’ wishes, leaving them and his twelve other brothers and sisters behind. Soon after, he decided he would board a boat to Germany, where he lived, studied and worked as an accountant for several years. Wanderlust kept him restless and he decided he wanted to see what Britain had to offer him. The rest, of course, is history - a history that soon became entwined with that of my mother and myself.
My father was a passionate man who wooed my mother with love letters that criss-crossed their way from London to Calcutta and back again. After they married in India, they returned together to London and the first meal he cooked for his new wife was trout curry with cauliflowers and potato.
My father loved cooking and was always experimenting. We would look aghast as he added apples or fruit yoghurt to a curry. But it tasted amazing! When I decided to become a vegetarian, he took it entirely in his stride and prepared as my first ever vegetarian meal a dish of curried lentils and spinach.
He was an exemplary father, far ahead of his time. When my mother started working as a hospital doctor when I was 8 months old, he took over all the parenting duties despite also having a fulltime job. He took me to the childminder’s house, he bathed me, fed me, changed and washed my nappies, read me stories and put me to bed, prepared a meal for him and my mother when she returned from work, then got up in the night whenever I woke up, and tended to me when I was ill.
A loving, caring father and yet a strict disciplinarian too - he certainly was no pushover. My mother spoiled me with presents and with her I was able to get away with a lot. My father, though, was the one who punished me and taught me right from wrong.
He believed education was the key to freedom and drove me on and on and on. Oh the arguments we had! He always said, “Studies first, career second, husband third!” When I didn’t choose the A-level subjects he wanted me to choose, he didn’t speak to me for 6 weeks. Yet when I collected my DPhil certificate from Oxford, he cried tears of joy.
My sentimental father, who kept all of Mum’s love letters and all my school books, school reports and my letters to him. He even printed out and kept all the emails I wrote to him.
For he treasured relationships. He was a sociable man who loved spending time with people - laughing with them, listening to their stories. When he visited me in South Dakota in America, he not only managed to find the only Bengali in South Dakota but managed to befriend him and his wife and get us all invited back to their home for dinner!
He loved his work as a Chartered Surveyor and valued work so much that he started his own business and then also became an Independent Financial Advisor. The work drove him, certainly, but work was also a way he could spend time with other people. After retirement he continued to work by volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK where he visited elderly people just to chat with them and give them company.
With them he shared a joke, laughed about the comedy programmes he always enjoyed watching and debated politics. My father always had a twinkle in his eye and it looks like his quirky sense of humour has been passed down the generations to his 3 year old granddaughter.
Dad, you are the best role model a person can have. You have taught me never to give up and to always retain passion for and curiosity about life. I love you. May God bless you forever. I am sure you are making them all laugh up there in heaven.