My name, ‘Deeya’, has always fascinated me. Etymologically, the word has its roots in various languages. But my father named me ‘Deeya’, inspired by the Hindi word ‘Diya’, which means ‘lamp’.
I grew up listening to my school teachers, fondly, referring to me as the ‘lamp of the family’; and I travelled with my family where ever my father’s transfers took us, changing schools and accommodating cultures and traditions.
Once on a long vacation, we happened to be in our family home in Kerala, and my father showed me his world of books and writings. There I came face to face with ‘Deeya’, my father’s pseudonym.
A surprise indeed! My father had never mentioned his joy of writing, except that he enjoyed reading my creative ventures. To help me improve my writing skills, he encouraged reading, bought books, gifted diaries, and advised me to make them my best friends.
Occasionally, he would enquire about my latest diary entry, and I used to read it out to him very reluctantly. Then it had mattered less to me. Gradually, I found myself sharing every single write up and poem I penned; and he was more than happy to view his opinions and mend.
In fact, my first book of poetry materialised due to his quiet work of passing on the poems to the publisher.
Years have passed by. Nothing seems to have changed. Even today we spend hours over the phone (distances hardly matter!), especially on holidays, discussing news, views, and his critical observation of my writings.
Need to mention, he hopes to see me read and understand the depths of Malayalam literature. To begin with, recently he gifted me an English translation of the great legends of Kerala.
Over a period of time, my relationship with my father has matured from a father-daughter one to a guru-shishya (teacher-student) level of understanding. A teacher, who understands, guides and accepts the student as she is.
I often wonder if I have idealised him. However, I am still learning from his philosophy of life. And I have realised that I am truly his “Deeya”. On this Father’s Day, I salute you, my dear acchan (Father in Malayalam).