Chinappa Moses David! He wasn’t popular. He wasn’t polished in education. He wasn’t prosperous. His work wasn’t professional. He wasn’t even a preacher. He didn’t possess any fascinating expertise according to the standards of the world. On the contrary, he was born to a poor family on October 24, 1940. He lost his father when he was a child. Life wasn’t easy for him. He was brought up under rugged circumstances. He was unloved, abused and neglected. He worked as an ordinary bus driver till the last day of his existence on earth. So what makes me to write about this person? Why should you read about this man?
It’s because he was a great Dad. He is my wonderful Papa. He was a strong, diligent, tough, loving, not to mention handsome, man I knew. He was a great person of my family, leaving an indelible influence on my life. In memory of his birthday on 24th October, having an honor of being his son, I thought to share about my Papa with few dads with a hope that they may be blessed through his life. I think everyone has a story about their dads—some are good and some are sad. My Papa passed away five years ago but is still alive in my memory for being a great Dad. I trust you agree with me that an exemplary person still speaks even though he is dead.
My Papa rested from this tumultuous world on January 22, 2003. It was the most painful experience of my life. I cannot forget, few hours before his death, how he asked me to lie down beside him and held me to his side. He felt my need so much. At times he was like a child. I cannot express how much I miss him now. I could not write these few words about him without tears as I reflect on the wonderful characteristics of my Papa. The remarkable memory he left in my life shows what a blessing he was to my family. I hope, as you read about him, you will not be left uninspired.
HEALTHY SELF-ESTEEM: Parents often despise their children when they don’t rise up to their expectations. How true it is that children learn to respect and accept themselves by the way their parents treat them. I am glad I had a Papa who treated his son in a way that built within him a healthy self-esteem. He was always proud of me. He used to take great delight in me. I was his hero. To put exactly in my Papa’s words, he had three lions (In Hindi “Theen Sher”)—James Antony, Nelson David and Stephen David. Though I am his son, far younger than him, he had great respect for me, especially because I am a servant of Christ Jesus.
Not many parents are mature enough in disciplining their children without despising them. I can hardly remember my Papa despising me. The way he used to regard me before others built a healthy respect within me. For instance, at times I used to get into my Papa’s bus. What a joy it was to travel when he drove the bus! He would gladly and proudly introduce me to the conductors and to his regular passengers. I recollect how he stopped the bus when he found some shops on the way, giving me money to go and buy something to eat for myself in the bus. I felt uneasy to go as the passengers inside the bus looked at me with curiosity. Nevertheless, for my Papa his children were his treasure and our well-being was his pleasure.
HOSPITALITY: My Papa is well known for his spirit of hospitality. When my friends or guests came to home, he was generally the first person to cook and serve them. He had a wonderful welcoming attitude. He neither gave superficial smile nor did he grumble to serve my friends. I have learned the significance of hospitality, first from the Holy Bible and second from my Papa. Almost every friend of mine who met my Papa could hardly forget his cheerful spirit and hospitable service. He lived a life worth remembering by others.
A friend of mine testified to me personally that he never felt comfortable visiting others’ house. However, he always felt at home when he visited our house because of my Papa’s hospitality. Besides, every Sunday morning, he used to sit before the stove and make chapattis for all my friends who were in the hostel, including my family. They too fondly called him Papa. What a patience he had in serving people! He was truly a jolly man. I am proud of him for setting a great example to me in hospitality.
CARE: One of the best memories I have of him is his lovely kiss. I could sense his overwhelming love for me in his kiss. He cared for us immensely. When he had good food outside he used to remember us, and wondering what we would be eating he would bring some for us. He used to say, “I could not eat this biryani without you.” He always made sure to share his joyful events with his family. I still remember the marriage of a certain political leader’s daughter. My Papa was a driver to the bus which was hired for marriage. He took the effort to come home and took my brother and me to the party because we rarely used to have such grand food. He was always concerned to see us in good state.
Although he was a man without good education he was far educated in caring for his family. During my college years, my family was under dire financial struggles. My father went to United Arab Emirates to earn some money to support my family but regretfully he was deceived by the agent. He suffered terribly in the desert and lost his health. My father went to the extent of selling his kidney in UAE to help us in our desperate condition but the doctors had to reject his plea because he had acquired diabetes. Removing his kidney would inevitably cost his life. He always labored for the welfare of his family, although it meant giving up his own comfort.
FRIENDLINESS: Like any other men my Papa was at times hot-tempered, but he was generally quite friendly. I remember, when I was in my teens, how we used to play together (like caroms…etc) and sometimes watch movies together. How true it is that the best memory children cherish of their parents is the time they spent with them. I am glad to testify about my Papa that he wasn’t bossy or authoritative but challenging and motivating. He never let me think that I am an ordinary person. His pride in me boosted my confidence to excel. What Robert H. Shaffer said is quite true, “We must view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to be lit.”
Is there anything wonderful than having a Papa who was caring, loving and friendly? I cannot forget his humble spirit in serving and taking caring of my family. He cooked for us, served us, washed vessels and didn’t mind to wash my clothes, even my wife’s. Tears come to my heart when I remember the pains he took for me. Of course, he was stern in disciplining me and I revere him for that. Yet when I think of my Papa I don’t think of him as a man with a hit out attitude. It is difficult for parents to discipline without nagging and love without spoiling. My Papa didn’t have the habit of despising, controlling or being sarcastic at me. He loved me with all his heart, leaving an inspiring influence on my life.
FAMILY: If somebody asks me, “Besides work, where did your Papa spend much of his time? Without pondering my instant reply would be, “With his family.” His home was his sanctuary. Most of the time he spent was in the house, busy doing something or the other. He gave his family the utmost priority. He often used to come home right away after his work. To him his family was his world. He really functioned as the head of our family. I cannot forget the words he said to me that as long as there is strength in him he would work hard to take care of us. He really did labor, often working overtime to provide sufficiently for his family.
What a joy it was for him to see his family around! Our house was bright when he was at home. His presence used to give us a sense of confidence and comfort except when he was exasperated. Some of the best times I remember of him were when he used to sit before the stove and make hot food for us. We used to sit and enjoy eating as he made variety of dishes. What a delight it was to savor his mouth-watering food! As he earned a meager salary he didn’t leave for us great material things to relish but he nevertheless left memorable events to cherish. Usually, the fathers are held responsible for neglecting to spend time with their children. However, in my case, I deeply regret for neglecting my father who cherished me so much. Now, as a father, I observe that it is easy to die for our children than live for them, especially by spending time with them.
FINAL WORDS: In saying all these I don’t say he was a man without weaknesses. He had flaws, some of them serious, yet his best strengths surpassed his worst weaknesses. I have seen many people having a good testimony outside but not in the family. How easy it is to have success in the world while being a failure at home! My Papa is the one who was admired, not only by the people outside, but also by those within the family. If I were to get a chance to see him only for two seconds I would fix my eyes on him and say, “I love you Papa.” When my first son was born I wanted him to call me ‘Papa’ so that I would often be reminded of my Papa. Now I have two wonderful sons, Joy and Joe. My heart leaps with joy when they call me ‘Papa’.
Finally, I thank my Lord Jesus for my dear Papa. If it weren’t for Jesus I would have lost my Papa forever. It was my Jesus who taught me the value of fatherhood. Initially, my Papa was resistant to believe in Jesus alone. It was difficult for him to give up his cherished traditional beliefs and practices. Well, the day came when he trusted Jesus as his only Savior, got baptized in His Name and is now eternally safe because of his trust in what Christ did on the Cross. Because of Jesus I assuredly say, “I haven’t lost my Papa; I only miss him for a while.” I look forward towards the day when I see him again in the presence of my beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My rich tributes to the one who led a life so sublime! Love you Papa! See you soon!