This Father’s Day, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna talks about love and loss
“Don’t wait for a single moment. Our parents might never ask for anything and just give all their lives for us. Surprise them, spoil them, hug them, ask them about their dreams, and love them.”
The time with a loved one is precious and hence needs to be cherished.
On 31 January 2015, as he did every morning, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna called home to speak to his parents. That day, his father was excited about Serena Williams winning the Australian Open. They spoke of Vikas’s upcoming association with Mercedes-Benz. That’s when his father casually mentioned to him that it had always been his dream to drive his son’s Mercedes. His father had never talked about the wish before. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Vikas asked him. “You never asked,” came the reply.
Vikas, a world-famous chef, restauranteur and successful entrepreneur in his own right, was taken aback. Had he known, he would have bought his father his dream car in a heartbeat. Even as he contemplated how to make his Papa’s dream come true, fate had other plans. The man who had been his rock suddenly passed away later that same day.
“No child can ever be ready for this loss; it leaves a hole in your heart. Makes you feel empty, betrayed by the Gods and unprotected to the world. So many times since that unfortunate day, I wish I could have done more for him, made him proud, and fulfill(ed) all his wishes,” Vikas wrote on his Facebook page much later.
It is a regret that he carries to this day. Nevertheless, it came with a life lesson that he shared with the people who love and adore him: “Don’t wait for a single more moment. Our parents might never ask for anything and just give all their lives for us. Surprise them, spoil them, hug them, ask them about their dreams, and love them. Because one day you might be able to buy a fleet of cars, but you can’t buy time.”
An inspiration to many aspiring chefs and food entrepreneurs across the globe, Vikas finds himself at the centre of much love and attention, but the person central to his being no longer walks with him. This Father’s Day, the 45-year-old opened up to YourStory about his father, Davinder Khanna, saying that it doesn’t matter how old or successful we are, family remains irreplaceable. An important message we all need to reflect upon as we find ourselves stuck in our individual silos.
Despite the love he has garnered around the world and the leagues of fans he has, the loss hit him hard. “In those initial days, I almost felt I had lost an arm. My dad was my strength, and my shield. He managed my contracts, my accounts, everything, while I spent time in the kitchen, secure in the knowledge that Papa was around, looking out for me,” he shared with YourStory.
While it hasn’t been easy to cope with the loss, Vikas continues to celebrate his relationship with his father in different ways. He is building a museum in Manipal, from where he graduated, dedicated to his father. The museum, which will open later this year, will house a collection of utensils that Vikas has collected from different parts of the world.
Vikas’s father was an early influence in his life, helping him learn the skills he needed to succeed and backing his decision to go abroad even though it would be a financial battle. “He told me to go ahead and live my life, and he always gave me room to fail. Those are the things I admired the most about him,” he remembers fondly.
After a 20-hour work day that was prolonged because of the conversation with YourStory, he signs off for a very important message for Father’s Day: “Fathers may not be as visible as mothers in our life but they are equally important. They are our ozone layer. Our parents live all their lives for us. Surprise them, spoil them, hug them, ask them about their dreams, and love them. Take as many selfies with them as possible so that when they are not around you can look back at the time gone by and heal yourself.”