27 July, 2021

Guru, Father, Friend

"Mommy knew she was one of the many women in his life, but loved him too much to care. She'd say, 'I wanted his child'."

illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Guru, Father, Friend
Ravi Shankar: Bapi...The Love of My Life, by Anoushka Shankar, is not a book. It is not a gift of love from a daughter to a father. It is not a portrait of a musical genius. It is not a look at the man's extraordinary life. It may be all of the above to many. To me, what it really is, is written between the lines. Subtle, gentle, but all-pervasive. It is an Ode to Forgiveness. So gentle is the grace that it is never actually mentioned. For Anoushka, although her Forgiving is existential, it is ingenuous.

I do not think it is by accident that the story of Anoushka's life becomes clear on the first page of the book, in a letter written to her by Ravi Shankar.

My 'Hey-Smoochka'. I miss you! I want to hug you and cuddle you and give you all the love I feel for you—which I was stupid enough to not give to you for various reasons (we must talk about all that, please!) when you were very young! It is never too late—and you are such a wise young lady! Our roles as Guru, father and a friend—and disciple, daughter and friend is not so easy—I know! But enough...

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