He would return from work and fill every bucket, every mug with water before it stopped after freshening up and before having his evening tea.
And then he would settle down with the newspaper, immersed in the crossword.
Once in a while, I would need some drawing done and he would help me out with that - drawing the entire thing as I went about my other activities, like playing, play acting, watching TV.
He would tell me bedtime stories - he would be reclining and I would be up vertical and I would have to shake him awake to continue with the story.
He would ask me to sing - his only expectation of me - and I would howl in reply, singing through tears.
And then, we shifted cities, shifted homes. I grew up from a child to an adolescent.
I was shaken from my comfort zone - having known only one home for 10 years, suddenly I was taken to a city my family was familiar with but I wasn't. I left behind my school, my colony and my friends. From wide streets, I was looking at rooftops from my 8th floor balcony and unable to make out any trace of even lanes between the congested houses. I felt friendless and alone.
My first entrance exam in one school came to naught and I panicked, fearing his disapproval. He just smiled. "There are other schools, don't worry."
I made it in the next (and ironically, I would go back to the first school to complete my senior school). I struggled with the new school, passing only provisionally to the next class. Strangely, no fire and brimstone rained on me. Life seemed placid with just gentle cautioning. But despite having two brothers in IIT (one, in fact, doing his IIM by then), my poor performance in 9th went almost without remark.
And I discovered other sides to the man I called father. His broad mindedness, his easy going nature, and his Taurean temper that flared up once in a while, but never at me.
As I grew, he became less of my father and more a friend - a person I could tell my deepest secrets to without being judged.
And, even living away from home several times and now for several years, that bond remains - father remains friend, with whom I share my secrets, my joys and troubles. He is the listener every woman dreams of (he is not that with my mom, I know...), who shares my interests, and encourages me with his childlike wonder at what he considers my achievements.
I can be me with him.
Love you dad, though I often don't say it.