Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
My & My Sister's Eulogies For Our Father
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
At yesterday's service, several people spoke. My eulogy follows, then my sister Nandini's.
I am Sumana Harihareswara. I am S.K. Harihareswara's younger daughter.
I learned so much from my father and I'm only realizing some of it now, as people tell stories about him. He taught me, by example, how to get completely obsessed with a topic. He was enthusiastic and he started things and made things happen. He wanted to teach everyone everything he knew, about theology and literature and Kannada and editing and history and even engineering, if you asked, or even if you didn't.
And I'm like him in so many ways -- I've been remembering his quirks, and seeing myself in a new light. He'd get so focused on a project that he forgot to eat, until Mom called him. He loved meeting new people. He liked good signage and clear directions. He liked impressing people.
He collected papers and books and started so many projects that he couldn't possibly finish them all. But they all tied into each other -- it was as though he was working on a grand unified theory of everything, his endlessly creative mind using a hundred perspectives to make sense of the universe. He got mad at things that didn't make sense, but then he'd go to sleep grumpy and wake up completely fresh.
He always wanted to be doing more.
The best way to remember my father is to outdo him. I urge all of us, including myself, to cherish his memory by practicing his virtues: his intellect, generosity, and hard work. Let yourself be carried away with joy and love. He lived a full life, and if we carry on his work, it will overflow into ours.
Dad always wanted me to write. He was always begging me to publish this long fiction story I wrote in the 7th grade. I remember it was a murder mystery set in Jamaica (I'd never been there) and I wrote it on this old-school Apple computer we had in our basement. Dad stayed with me on this project and helped me write it and edit it, late into the night before it was due.
It is hard to believe he is gone.
One of the best things I've ever done was in 2003. I took a year off from work and school to live with my parents in India. In that time, my father and I became friends. Our relationship changed from one of parent and child to friends that would ask each other for advice and discuss philosophy and edit each other's works. He was more relaxed, and I was more relaxed. I understood him, and why he would get mad and why he'd become happy. And he began to understand me.
We would sit at the dining room table and argue and discuss the various points of philosophy. Sometimes he would tell me stories, of every day things like how nosy people are at the bus stop. He would tell me how some guy started talking to him and asked what he did, how much money he made, how many children he had, were they married? If not, why not? What to do with the girl that was unmarried, etc. And still he enjoyed it. He loved living in India, in Mysore.
I came to Mysore to laugh. My father was hilarious. He would make fun of people, situations, and best of all my, mother. He, slowly, as the years went by, would also laugh at himself. I would make fun of his books, and ask him "who will read a Kannada book about sparrows?" And he'd laugh good-naturedly.
So much of who I am comes from my father. He was a philanthropist. He was a philosopher. He was a comedian. He was deeply spiritual. He was a writer.
Because of all of this, because we were friends, because he was happy with his life, because he died painlessly, I can live on. He taught me that there is so much to live for, so much to do. So many people to help, so many things to celebrate. In his death, I will continue to follow my father’s footsteps and continue writing, making friends, and improving the world.
02 Aug 2010, 0:44 a.m.
02 Aug 2010, 6:41 a.m.
02 Aug 2010, 13:23 p.m.
03 Aug 2010, 17:26 p.m.