"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

In our lives, its normal for a person to have many Fathers.

This is neither a blasphemous statement nor an insult to our mothers. It’s not even a perspective on relationships. Its like this – for a puppet to make various range of actions, it needs to have many strings tied to its various parts; just one string does not help much. Analogously, our growth as human beings is powered by inspiration drawn from various sources that we look up to. Just like the hands that guide a puppet, these role models, through their actions and words, pull invisible mental strings in our minds thus evoking emotions of various wavelengths that drives our performance on the stage of life. I would like to call each of these role models as 'Fathers'. God is a divine guide to almost all of us. It no coincidence that Christian faith calls him as the 'Divine Father'.

As one may normally have several role models in life, we end up in the situation of several Fathers. The world is a big collage of characters and one may draw inspiration through sources from various walks of life. The 'Fathers' can come from anywhere - physically present or remotely followed, from a different era of time, from a totally unrelated part of the world, just from memories, from pure imagination, etc. We may relate to that 'Father' (read: draw inspiration from) in whole or just in parts. Broadly, these 'Fathers' can be classified in two - the soul 'Fathers' and the body 'Fathers'. Soul 'Fathers' are the one that we draw inspiration from and are purely based on our choice. Body 'Fathers' - including the biological father - impact our lives more tangibly by taking our responsibility as their duty and providing for us in material ways. Body 'Fathers' have personal contact with us in our daily lives while Soul 'Fathers' mostly act in philosophical ways on our mind and psyche.

For instance, I look at my own mother's life. She was born in one family but brought up in another. Her maternal uncle mostly tended to all her needs during growing up years and hence he has been a father figure for her. So she has always had two body 'Fathers'. She has grown to be a devout person attending all religious ceremonies in the community. Other than Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, the conventional Indian gurus, she has ardently followed our community priests and shaped her life according to the principles their preached. They all have been her soul 'Fathers'.

In my case, I can lay claim to only one body 'Father'. I was born, brought up under his wings and continue to live under his keen tutelage and personal supervision. He has taken care of all my needs and always built a cocoon of comfortable family life around me. He has fulfilled all my seeming material needs and thus claims to have completed his duty. But, with all due respect to him, his claim is a far cry from what my actual needs have grown into. Today's complicated society creates multi-layered personalities in all of us. In hard-to-understand-and-even-harder-to-explain ways, I have read and gotten influenced by people from totally wierd backgrounds and in utterly strange ways. Some of them were conscious connections, while in some cases I was shocked myself to have been so deeply influenced. Were all these my soul 'Fathers'?

When cinestar Raj Kapoor died in 1988, I had felt a strange emptyness in me. I was just an 8 year old kid and it was an unexplainable why I was feeling that way. It took me a long time to get back to normal. Even to this day, I cannot fathom what bond I shared with that 'Awaara' star. It was a similar experience when Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar passed away in 2006. I remember I had suffocated and choked on hearing the news and barely understood why my emotions were overpowering me so much. I had felt a tug at my heart when Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and V Prabhakaran were killed in action. Sometimes, I imagine being alive on that fateful day of 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and my heart skips a beat when I think of that gunshot moment. I ponder upon the over-arching presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan in our lives today and then try to guess what a gap their absence may leave behind. Yesterday, when news of Osama Bin Laden's death suddenly dawned upon us, it created a similar sensation of hollowness - of having lost a footing and then falling into a bottom-less pit.

Maybe I read too much about these people that they end up becoming part of my psyche? Maybe I have seen positives in them which I got really attracted to and hence began secretly drawing inspiration from? These are just a few examples - there are hundreds more.. many that I may not even realize until it hits me out-of-the-blue one day. But its these connections which influence my soul and in-turn complete my picture of a 'Father'.

All these sources in various bits and pieces make up the true picture of a 'Father' for me and whenever I see them passing away, I invariably lose a bit of my 'Father' in them.. May their Souls Rest-In-Peace!