September 07, 2007

To a father

At my father's funeral, this is what my brother Ravi had to say.

Thank you Ravi.

***

My family members, colleagues of my father, Government and Municipal officials, relatives and dear friends,

We are gathered here to mark the passing away of my dear father Joseph Bain D'Souza. Though I feel sad he is no longer with us, I think and feel that we should be happy that he had such a long and productive life.

I would like to share with you some reflections about my father, as I knew him. His devotion to his work was exemplary -- often at a cost to his family life. During his years of Government service, one of my enduring memories is of him sitting with his files till very late at night (1-2 am). His well justified claim was, "I am not as intelligent as some of my colleagues in the Service, so I need to work harder than all of them." Few would dispute that.

His approach to his work could be summed up in these words from Gen. MacArthur's farewell speech at West Point:
    "Duty," "Honor," "Country" - those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be.

    ... be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others."
The old soldier that my father was (and of course "old soldiers don't die, they just fade away"), the last phase of his life had a Quixotic touch to it. He was never reluctant to take up unpopular and unrewarding issues. Whether it was petitioning the High Court on FSI violations in Bombay, or on the use of low-priced drugs in mission hospitals, he pursued these issues with single-minded devotion.

One of his favourite verses was "The Impossible Dream":
    To dream the impossible dream
    To fight the unbeatable foe
    To bear with unbearable sorrow
    To run where the brave dare not go
    This is my quest
    To follow that star
    No matter how hopeless
    No matter how far
    To fight for the right
    Without question or pause
    To be willing to march into Hell
    For a heavenly cause
    And I know if I'll only be true
    To this glorious quest
    That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
    When I'm laid to my rest.
Though it may seem a time to bid farewell, I feel instead that we should ponder my father's life.

My father's life was his message to all of us.

5 comments:

Rahul said...

Heartfelt condolences, Dilip. I've been irregular on the blogosphere.

You're right, when a good man dies, we should celebrate his life as much as mourn his death.

Anurag said...

Hey Dilip,

I'm sad to hear about your father passing away.

Regards
Anurag

Nazim Khan said...

Unfortunately for me, I didn't know much about such a man of exemplary values, and I'm learning now. Such a loss.
Condolences again.
Nazim

anusharmagupta@gmail.com said...

Dilip,

Heartfelt condolences. I can only imagine from reading this how much he must have inspired you and helped you become who you are today. God rest his soul in peace and give you all courage.

Anu

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you, Rahul, Anurag, Nazim and Anu. He was an inspiration. He will remain one.