This fairy tale post is dedicated to my dad whose unwavering affection and my son whose unwavering adulation give me the zeal to put in my best efforts in everything I do…
T’was the night of the Oscars
Stars on the ground
Radiant in celluloid splendor
Sashaying the red carpet
Was it night? Was it Day?
T’was just the Oscars
“To present the Oscar for the best actor in a leading role, I call upon a pioneer in the world of cinema the one and only Vinnie G…” announced the anchor for the awards ceremony as the beloved Vinnie stepped onto the grandiose stage and into the limelight. The deep respect, the awe for this remarkable lady imprinted in the hearts of the audience was palpable in the applause that filled the air.
Vanajalakshmi Gandapalli popularly known as Vinnie G was an actress with the Midas touch. Any film that she had chosen to work on, whether it was acting, script writing or directing, had seen phenomenal success at the box office. Not only had her films been commercially viable, they had also been thought provoking inspirational tales that succeeded in touching the hearts of millions with powerful storytelling. It was a guarantee that watching one of her movies would make one feel joyful and in love with the world. She had, through cinema, unleashed an era of oneness and hope.
Vinnie smiled as she looked into the teleprompter and read out the nominations for the prestigious category of awards. Clearly, Hollywood had come a long way in the ten years since she had been a recipient in the same category of awards. Today the names of the highly talented nominees belonged to actors of varied races and color. And in a category that was not even ‘Best foreign film!’
In the split second that Vinnie had, before she announced the winner, she couldn’t help but notice the skin tone of the audience in the room. It was as colorful as the shimmering gowns of the ladies. The stoic diversity as abundant as the suits in black. She felt pride for having paved the way for this rich amalgamation of cultures in an industry that just a decade ago had been labelled as being devoid of color…supremely monochromatic.
She remembered the moment she had stood in the very same spot, teary eyed, in emotional shock when she had held the prestigious statuette for the first time. Numbed by the joy of fulfilling her dream, her acceptance speech had been slurry and garbled. She was the first person of her ethnicity to receive the award and since then she had inspired dreamers and believers all over the world to follow suit.
As the world waited with bated breath Vinnie started to open the golden envelope that had the name of the winner. Even a movie buff in distant Japan got a sense of the sweaty hands, racing hearts, knotted guts and keen anticipation of the talented nominees.
“And the Oscar goes to….MY DAD!” she said in a funny twist of events even before looking at the name of the winner printed inside the envelope.
“Whaaat-was this some kind of a cruel joke” thought people. A few giggles erupted in the room as some thought this was her way of abating the tension in the air. After all increased diversity had also increased the competitiveness of the times. The world watched spellbound as Vinnie continued to speak…
“I have been heralded as the beacon of change, as a trend setter in my field. The reason I could accomplish what I have is because of my belief in myself, in my ability to make a difference in the world.
I grew up as an average child of first-generation hard-working parents of Indian origin. Unlike other kids of my descent, I struggled in school. I was not a math whiz, I profusely disliked Kumon, I was not particularly good at sports or ballet and I fumbled with musical instruments. In those tender years I was lost and unsure of myself. The only thing I was absolutely sure of was Daddy’s love for me.
As a parent myself now, I know how hard it is to watch your child struggle. Yet Daddy never showed it. He was happy as long as I tried. Every time I entered the room his face would light up. Being around him, his warmth was my security blanket. I didn’t have to be an A+ student or do anything to prove my worthiness to him. The look in his eyes clearly stated I was perfect just the way I was…I was enough.
A father’s validation goes a long way in building a young girl’s esteem. Daddy believed in me. So, I started to believe in myself too.
I still remember one day as we sat watching the Presidential debate on TV where candidates debated on whether to make America great again or whole again, as if they were two different things.
As I pondered aloud on the dismal state of affairs in the country and the gloom in the world Daddy said “It just takes one great mind to bring about change and that could very well be you.”
Daddy is a man of few words. I remembered every word of what he said. That day I found my purpose.
In high school I joined theatre with the intention of having an extra-curricular activity to add onto my college application. That’s where I found my true passion.
By then the reassurance of Daddy’s love had given me the strength to look at anyone in the eye-be they a foot taller, skin a lot lighter or eyes bluer than the deep sea –to look into their eyes with conviction and say I was just as good as they were. There was no mindless chatter in my head that worried whether I was good enough or if I fit in. In my heart I knew that I already belonged in the circle of Daddy’s love.
Today I am what I am because of that gentle force in my life-my father’s love. I am what I am because of the zillions of times daddy’s eyes sparkled to say I was enough.
And as I look around in the room today, I am truly proud of the progress we’ve made and can’t help but think that Daddy had a role to play in it.”
Vinnie paused and took a deep breath. The audience watched in rapt attention. Her spontaneous speech had thrown off the timing of the ceremony. Even though the orchestra had been instructed to play loud if celebrities on stage over shot their timing, they had let her speak without interruption. After all she was yet to had to announce the name of the winner.
“And the Oscar for best actor in a lead role also goes to Abuya Iwa for her performance in Letters that Dream.”
The standing ovation that ensued the proclamation was as much for Abuya’s stellar performance as it was for a stellar father, the honorable Mr. Gandapalli.
And that night the moon smiled as she softly shone her light on daddies all over who held their precious babies closer to their hearts to let them know they were enough.