Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dear Dad

I’m sure you remember that it’s mom’s birthday today! I know you do. You have never yelled “Happy Birthday!” on any 16th January, but since childhood I have noted that a gift would invariably be there on your hand when you came home from work on the 15th. For as long as I can remember it would be a cardigan because she loved collecting them, discarding many before winter visited us again. You never questioned their utility, like you never questioned any other aspect which received her stamp of approval. I noticed how you would pass on the TV remote to her even as you were on the edge of your seat, watching an intense cricket match. I didn’t forget how you would eat anything that was put on your table, knowing that she is not a good cook. How you could do it unfailingly over the ages, I don’t know. But I learnt lessons by observing these little gestures which kept petty quarrels at bay.

Quarrels! That’s something that you never picked with anyone. Neighbors, relatives, strangers, all of them either agreed to you or you agreed to them. I have to be honest here that sometimes it got on our nerves. Mom and I used to talk ill about you. We used to laugh at you. We used to mock you for being such a yes-man. But we also held a grudging respect for you because people seemed to love you for being what you are. There were so many mornings when I woke up to find neighbors thronging our house, asking you for help and advice. I was more strongly aware of this when the entire neighborhood was at our door the day you died. I couldn’t look at anyone in the eye. I shrunk away in my cocoon lest they expect I’ll be what you were to them.

You were gone before I could be there. I curse myself every day for being so tired as to oversleep that fateful morning. I don’t presume that you would have said a lot of things before you bid farewell to me. You were never a man of words. My guess is that you would have asked me to take care of mom. So that is my priority now. I’m trying to do what I can to make sure that she doesn’t feel lonely. But I seem to be fighting a losing battle. I don’t know what to do when she smiles to hide her pain only to make me feel that she recognizes my effort. I don’t know what to do when I see her arrange those pens you loved a thousand times, tidy up the room you lived in every other day and move your clothes from one pile to another, not knowing where their final resting place will be- somewhere out of her sight but someplace close to the heart.

Both of us are looking for that balance in our lives after your exit. There are so many things we hide from each other because we don’t want to hurt one another. But we are so dreadfully aware that there is a pall of gloom that won’t be dispelled. We have both failed you somewhere down the line. We have wronged, misunderstood and accused you. We take consolation in the fact that you are not someone who would hold a grudge. And that makes us feel even more concerned that you had to leave this way, away from us, in a desolate, solitary hospital bed, isolated and bereft of what you radiated with effortless ease- love and warmth. You never allowed me to touch your feet, let alone apologize. It was as if you are embarrassed yourself that someone is apologizing to you. So asking for your forgiveness now is not the proper way to express my gratefulness for everything that you have done for me and everything that I could and can do for myself because I had you. I can make that have, can’t I?

I know you love tinkering with the internet! I’m sure you will find a way to read this. I couldn’t bring myself to write this earlier, and now that I have decided to put it down, I can’t bring myself to stop. You see, I had a lot of things to say as well…

1 comment:

wanderer said...

parents have their own way of doing things, covering their mistakes and avoiding the concept of owning up... and we as kids, find it very difficult to understand them...I do at least...for me, both my mother and my father seem like two known alien faces. Every day there seems like new traits surfacing, new ways of looking at life coming into the scene.

I guess, I said, what I felt. The above lines were a thought and an afterthought, your post essentially generated.