By Anupama Varma | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 10, 2016

Today marks the third death Anniversary of Air Marshal Prabhat Kumar Varma, fondly called Joe Varma in the flying circuit, who served our nation for 40 years and fought two major wars for our country. He was a highly decorated officer, a Gallantry Award winner, a gentleman and more importantly, a doting father.

OPENING DOORZ prods Anupama Varma to open her heart, and what flows out is a tribute to her Papa, a Letting Go process…

Dear Dad,
Today is yet another beautiful day when I open my eyes with thoughts of you, and I smile. You are near me [when I am afraid] besides me [whenever I need you] above me [guiding me at all times] and with me every step of the way. Knowing this, I am ready to take on each day with all its challenges.

I remember you my dashing father, so super-intelligent, hard-working, drop-dead handsome and a fabulous dancer! No wonder you swept Mom off her feet. You were dependable, fun, with a heart of gold, ready with a helping hand for everyone and that special soft place in your heart towards the poor. They don’t make them like you anymore!

I am still struggling to find someone a little bit like you. Everyone called you a dynamic personality but for me, you were still my ‘cuddly dad’.

Since the time I was little, you made me believe I was no less than a boy but at the same time you protected the delicate little girl in me. You encouraged me in every field—academics, sports, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, trekking, dance, music, the list goes on… And this continued through life. There was absolutely nothing I wanted to do that you didn’t encourage me; except when Mom stopped you from letting me join karate and horse-riding classes because she thought you were making me into a total tomboy! I remember the expression on your face that day. Ha ha ha ha.


I grew up shy and a little in my shell because you kept me like cotton wool—but you repeatedly kept making me believe in myself and that’s why I am what I am today. You were my cheering squad, whether it was at the school sports day, in my professional career while facing the camera, or life in general. This is the first time I am penning down my thoughts to you Papa, so above all, I want to tell you how proud I am of you.

Proud of that 15-year-old boy who ran away from home to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) because all he wanted to do in his life was to fly fighter planes, which he did and went ahead to become the Deputy Chief of the Indian Air force. An Air Marshal who fought two major wars for the country, a decorated Gallantry Award winner with a Vayusena Medal (VM), Ati Vashisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and a Param Vashisht Seva Medal (PVSM) presented by the President of India.

Now you know why I salute you, my Officer!

On a lighter note Papa, I reminisce my childhood. Your sense of humour was in-born, always pulling pranks on us and making us laugh with your simplicity and childlike ways. It took just an ice-cream to make you happy. I vividly remember the car travels, our holidays in the hill stations, our birthdays which you always made so special right till I was an adult.

I still want to be your baby Papa, forever and always…

No one calls me ten times a day now to ask if I am OK and happy. No one reminds me to stay slim and fit, not to eat too many chocolates, to sleep on time… I look after all my paperwork myself now and yours too, Papa.

There was only one thing you didn’t like about me. Remember you always asked me why I never stood up when I was right and instead chose the timid and easy way out? You will be happy to know I have become ‘You’. I now stand up for everything that is right and I raise my voice against anything unfair and unjust—not only for myself but for everyone. All your sisters say I have become quite a replica of you and you know what Papa? I love that!

The values you drilled in me are intact, those principles will go far with me. I will continue to do you proud and everytime I see that bright shining star in the sky, I know you are smiling at me.

Today marks three years since your physical presence is not with us, but you and I know we are together. I continue to celebrate your birthday and wish you at the dot of midnight. I eat your share of the cake too. But what I really miss is my share of hugs from you… If only…

With all my love,

Your loving daughter who is ever so proud and blessed to be born to you!


  1. A beautifully penned Ode by a proud and loving daughter for her doting father.
    Any one who reads this will have moist eyes as they do. The love and admiration she has for her late father shines through & is a testament to the kind if man he must have been. Only she and those that he loved know the pain of this loss but as i read this i certainly got a very good sense of it and found myself wiping a tear as it silently slid down.

  2. They don’t make them like him anymore! True.
    He was fond of me and I take comfort in that. In that I feel He must seen my heart to be so unguarded with me.
    His Fatherly advice to me… Beta, buy yourself a house in India.
    Much to my frustration… buying a flat in Our side of Bombay requires one to be a bank robber, goon, bhai or something.

    Don’t worry Uncle wherever u are, your baby punna is in my care to fullest of my abilities and will be the receipient of my unconditional love.

  3. What a wonderful and befitting tribute and an excellent write up by a most loveable and charming daughter to a great and dashing, handsome and a warm hearted officer and a gentlelmanand a father.

    I had a personal deeper inner feel of his warmth and cherish the most pleasant memories and honour of being showered his kind and loving care. Your parents have always been my most sought after couple. We always loved them

    Priya and i join you in paying rich tributes to a most deserving and loving soul we had the honour to meet in our journey through this world.
    We love you all.
    Priya and Preet Thapars

  4. This is soooo beautiful. Even I got tears in my eyes. He must be so proud to hv a daughter like u who has even played the role of a son. Now I know where u got ur looks from. Uncle was a stunner. Never seen these pics earlier. Am sure Uncle blesses u every second of the day coz he is with you. God bless u for making Uncle and all of us proud of you. Tc.

  5. Beautiful words penned by a loving daughter for a loving Dad, so proud of you my sweetest and bestest friend Anu
    While reading just took me back to my childhood memories with my Dad and how loving, caring our Fathers were
    They will forever live in our hearts and thoughts!!!

  6. Simple elegant and a beautiful article from the soul full of emotion and gratitude from a daughter to her father
    An ode to a great soul and am sure your dad up there is mighty proud of you Anu take care god bless

  7. I’ve got tears in my eyes……
    They don’t make them like you anymore either Anupama.

    Give my love to your Papa….my regards and respect… I can see that you still speak to him and I’m sure he still listens to you as he always will.

    God bless you beautiful.

  8. Fathers are a girls best friend. Reading the wonderful words you penned made me realise your father was indeed your pillar of strength

    He is surely looking down and reading this letter and smiling showing his dimples as he reads your memories.

    I hope I am as inspirational a father to my daughter as yours was to you.

  9. Such a beautiful and touching tribute!! You brought uncle back to life with your words, your love and your gratitude. I truly believe that our loved ones who pass on are only no longer physically with us, but they are very much present, looking out for us, and showering us with their love and blessings. Indeed an extraordinary officer ,
    a gentleman and now your very own special angel and guardian.

  10. My eyes haven’t been teary and moist in a long time; but after reading your piece, I must admit, I just couldn’t control. Beautifully written and expressed. May the charming Air Marshal rest in peace, always.

  11. This is the best ever thoughts ever I ever read in my life .. I am feeling lucky to know a person like U .. Thoughts u just wrote are like real feeling and respect of you for your dad .. It’s the best .. I know you to be warm-hearted and caring, loving and nurturing. I know you to be soft and thoughtful.

    Now I know you to be a philosopher of sorts, a writer, an intellectual, a critic and a thinker of deep thoughts.

    What to say and what to feel .. U have a reason to feel .. U r the best daughter in the world .. Good to see a daughter like u .. Your dad is is luckiest still he is !! U the best !!!

  12. Omg Anu! I am speechless,touched my heart.I get it -he was more than just a dad for you. Your strong emotional side is reflected .I have no words to tell how much you miss him.But stay strong and need to celebrate his life and achievements.

  13. Read your touching and beautifully written letter to uncle. I’m sure uncle must be very proud of you. I can very well understand your feelings behind each and every word that you have written because I too have a loving and doting father, and also as to what it takes when you loose someone who is so dear and close to your heart. Uncle was a tough man and you after him you have also become like him. I love the way you are so never change & be the same as that is also going to keep Uncle alive in you.

  14. I just cannot forget the love, affection and the slightly mischievous and child like smile he always had on his face, anytime I saw him. I shared a bond with him that was mutual. Every time I met him, he always had that positive mindset with a zeal for life that was extremely inspiring. He knew that I had tremendous respect for him as a human being, an honest leader, and a doting but level headed father. What I admired the most about him was his simplicity, and honesty of purpose – that reflected in everything he did. His eyes reflected that in everything he did.

    He always considered me a family member and was always not only very kind to me., but also had a lot of trust for me. I was one of the family members who were with him at hospital, during the few weeks preceding his leaving all of us. When I landed in the hospital, he was already in coma and had not communicated to anyone, or many days in any manner. I vividly remember walking into the hospital and seeing him lying in bed with still open eyes. The moment I walked in, the mischievous smile on his face came out of nowhere. He grasped my hands tightly and then continued to say something to me in a very animated fashion with a big smile on his face. Punna was with me in the room. We could not understand anything he said but we could see the big mischievous smile on his face, the animated talk, the warmth of his hands tight in my hands and the love & affection that he was exuding. Every time I think about it even now, I get goose bumps as it reminds me not only of his love & affection for me but also his tremendous zeal for life.

    He served the country as a proud soldier by leading as a top ranked and most decorated Air Force personnel, who till the last breath had tremendous love & respect for the armed forces. He served his role as a family man, loving husband and a doting father to perfection, in my eyes. For me, he will always remain a source of inspiration in terms of simplicity, zeal for life and honesty. He wore his youth in his eyes irrespective of his physical age and that is something that I will never forget about him.

  15. A touching tribute. A perfect gift from a daugther to her papa. Well-written, anu. May God rest his soul and may all your desires and wishes come true. Your dad is still alive!!! He lives in you, your brother and your mom…..forever.

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