A close friend of mine who lost his father recently, in a quiet moment, reflected on their relationship. His father believed that "tighter you clench a fistful of sand, the quicker it slips out." He never meddled with his son's decisions. My friend also avoided going to his father for advice, who, anyhow, did not like the idea of offering any unsolicited advice. He was an observer. He listened if his son informed. My friend's father never demanded any obedience, and also never showed any authority.

An emotional person he was; a rare father not averse to showing unrestrained emotion for his son. 'My son is the best', at times, could be embarrassing for my friend. My friend often wondered how his father could be content with so little. Professional success had always eluded his father but that made little difference to his father. My friend’s father was very conscious of the fact that he should not become a liability to anyone. His only asset was his son.

It is now more than two years since my friend’s father died. My friend never imagined that he would miss his father so much. When he comes home, often he gets emotional - something he has always been avoiding. Surprisingly, now a days, he doesn't want to hide his emotions for his father. Often, he is assailed by the feeling that he never understood his father. What he now realises is that his father knew where to draw the line in a relationship.

Is there any 'right way' to become a father, my friend asks himself. Some matters can’t be argued logically, they must be experienced, he believes. The bonds of a relationship are material and emotional. These bonds survive if mutual commitments and expectations are fulfilled. It is the choice both has to make. 'I need you’ is as much relevant as ‘I love you’.