Life lessons I learned from my father




My beloved father died. Today. 4 months ago. He had terminal cancer. Colon cancer, detected only after it had spread to his liver. Too late the Dr said. Gave him 4-6 months. My Dad lived 22 months. And when he died, he did not die from cancer. He always said he will beat cancer. And he did. He beat cancer to live well for 22 months. And when he realized he could not beat cancer to live anymore, he beat cancer to death. He got there first. On HIS terms. They say people die the way they live. My Dad demonstrated it. He lived and died on his terms.

I have never posted anything publicly. I don’t assume people will find interesting what I have to express. And I am private except when I meet with someone in person. But today, it s all coming over me, flowing through me. I can’t stop myself. I don’t want to stop myself. I want to share. I want to express.I need to. I must.


You see the way my Dad showed up every day and created and lived his life is a Master Class in the Art of Being and Living. In his living he touched and inspired people everywhere he went. In his dying, I promised him that I will keep him forever alive by striving to live by and sharing the values he lived by and instilled in us. Today I want to make good on that promise. I share because I believe there are lessons and reminders here for all of us.


Dad had a love of life, zest for living, a very positive can-do mindset, love for family, drive for his work, a need to contribute and an adventurous spirit. His wish was to visit all continents. He had visited all but one. He was scheduled to fly to Antarctica. 6 days before his flight he got the diagnosis. The first thing he told his Dr was to do whatever was needed for him to get on that flight in 6 days. He never went. This energy, this love and zest is what enabled Dad to get through 30 very strong chemotherapy cycles with no drastic pain and discomfort. He read the book 'Power of the Subconscious Mind' by Dr Joesph Murphy and it blew his mind. True to his nature, he bought 10 copies and gifted them to people he loved. Dad always gave. It was who he was. And also true to his nature, he immediately put to use what he learned. Every day and night he said affirmations. Affirming his healing and his long life. Promising us he is doing his best and assuring us he is going to make it through.


But then the chemos stopped. Doctors had nothing more to offer. Despite the unimaginable fear of what lay ahead and that he was now on his own, Dad chose to celebrate that he now had his freedom back, no more weekly trips to the hospital, no more strong medicines. For 3 months we enjoyed together. We celebrated Diwali together...a blessing I will forever be grateful for. He still did his affirmations daily. The man never lost hope.

But his body was deteriorating fast. His mind and resolve though were as strong and sharp as ever, perhaps even more so now. A born leader, creator of his reality, he was not going to let circumstances, no not even terminal cancer decide for him. So as he always did, even now he took charge. He told us he had 13 days left. And that we was going to stop eating. Nothing, not a morsel no matter how hungry he got. We were not to offer him any food or drink. My mother, my sisters and I felt heartbroken, helpless and scared. But the strength and conviction of his resolve, even though he could barely move or talk, showed us he knew what he was doing. He knew what was best for him. We understood, respected and accepted it. We had to. Dad always called the shots. In those 13 days there was peace on his face. He communicated to us, let us know he is at peace.Then on the 13th day he was gone. In his beautiful beloved Meghali (our home), with his family around him, painlessly, in peace, in dignity and on his terms. Just as he wanted and decided. He could never be pinned down by norms, rules, expectations, diagnoses and prognoses. Those were not relevant. He soared as and when he wished to, circumstances notwithstanding. Even in dying. And so he soared again. This time he soared towards his freedom forever.


Dad has always been my inspiration, my teacher, my guide. Even in his last days, he was teaching me. Never by talking. But by being and doing and living. He taught me (I don’t think he even knew he was teaching me) :


You always have the freedom to choose your reality. ALWAYS. Exercise the freedom. I You are bigger than your circumstances.You decide what you want to create and then go create it. Orphaned at 16 after having lost his mother at 3, he was a self made man. The external trappings of what counts as successful, he did not consider his most important accomplishments. He was never swayed by that. Doing what is right (no matter how hard) and choosing to stay true to human values of love, care, giving freely, living fully, never giving up. Those are his real successes.That is my sisters and my inheritance.

Lesson : CREATE not REACT. BE A LEADER not A VICTIM.


Dad had a child-like charm and innocence to him. And he kept it alive even at 75. He never let the hardships, pain and struggles of life douse that child-like joy and sense of awe. He trusted people. He always gave second chances. Not because he was naïve. Because he was pure. And he trusted everyone was pure. He wore his heart on his sleeve. If he liked you, he’d show it over and over again. If not, also. His temper flew as freely as his love. I know. I have been on the receiving end of both. Even so, I loved that about him. He was transparent.What you saw is what you got. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.

Lesson : TRUST THE GOODNESS IN YOU AND OTHERS. LIVE FULLY.


1 year after being diagnosed, Dad wrote a book about his life. It was his way of processing the incredible journey of his life full of magic, miracles,blessings, joys, hurt and pain of 75 years. In the book he revealed for the first time ever - that despite his external confidence, leadership image and success, within he felt like he was the ‘ugly duckling.’ He felt that ever since he was a little orphaned lost boy. Success and age did little to change that image he had of himself.

Until he was facing his mortality. With death lingering, he said he finally realized, he finally saw that he was the SWAN. He always had been the SWAN. That is when that little wounded boy within, Subhash finally healed. At 75. He was healed. Now he was good to go.

Dad ended his book with the words from his favourite Marathi (our mother tongue) song sung by the famous Asha Bhosale “Eka Talyaat Hoti” (it is the poetic version of the story of the Ugly Duckling) :

“Tyaacheh tya kalaale toh RAJHANS ek“


He finally saw himself in his true image. HE WAS THE SWAN. ALWAYS.


Lesson : EACH ONE OF US IS THE SWAN. SEE IT. BELIEVE IT. LIVE IT.


There's so much more I've learned from him. That, perhaps for another day.



I love you Baba ! Thank you for being you ! I know you are in love, light, peace, beauty and joy. Because you create it everywhere you go. Heavens are lucky ! Until we meet again Baba !