Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dear Dad II

It’s been a year since I last wrote to you. It’s not easy making up my mind and begin to write a letter to you, you know! No, it’s not just the emotional upheaval that I’m scared of. It’s also because of the lack of emotional intimacy we shared. I don’t remember talking to you frankly or freely about my problems, neither did you feel easy enough to do the same with me. Somehow we kept our lives separate, lest we betray our vulnerabilities. There’s something that held you back from talking about your needs. You could never say what you wanted. If somebody understood instinctively, it was done for you. You would accept the favor with silent gratefulness. If it was not done, you would have no qualms about it. I inherited this trait from you, though partially. I can keep silent when no one realizes what I want, but somehow I cannot help but be bitter about it. I feel a bad aftertaste in the mouth.

This last year has been oddly quiet. There were no major events except for my laptop breaking down and me having to spend a whole two months to bring things back in control. Yes, I bought a laptop last year in May, with the money I received as Provident Fund from my last office. I tried to sell off my desktop, the one you worked on, but changed my mind. Remember how we used to fight over it? Things used to get so ugly on Sundays! You were so paranoid about checking your email every hour and I would grumble that I cannot have the computer to myself. I would complain to my mother and she would raise a ruckus and bully you into letting me take over. You would calmly get up and watch TV. I would finish my non-existent work in half an hour and join you on the sofa. Invariably I would take the remote and change the channel you were watching. You would immediately adjust your mind and watch what I did. Why did you never assert yourself? The computer and the TV lie silent for days and months. Need I say more?

You want me to talk about mom, don’t you? She’s fine! She’s heavily into singing devotional hymns and has learnt to play my old harmonium! She asked me to teach her initially. But you know how she picks things up! I gave up in two sessions. She went ahead and got herself a tutor. The lady is a very patient and an ideal teacher. Krishna Aunty joins mom for these sessions that happen thrice a week. But mom practices every single day! She’s really taken this up and is happy to keep herself occupied. Her sense of humor remains keen and outrageous to the hilt. Remember how you used to poke her so that she may say those funny, quaint things? You would laugh till tears came flowing. I enjoy her hilarious side a lot. She makes me smile with her excuses for bad cooking. When I’m pensive, she asks me if I am worried. Then without waiting for an answer, she brushes away all such considerations saying that I need not worry as long as she is around. I trust her completely when she says that. She may be comical, but she’s rock-steady. They don’t make them like her anymore. You did well to choose her as my mother.

If you want to know how we are doing on a daily basis, I have nothing much to say because nothing much has changed. There’s no one to bring the fish every day, so we don’t have it regularly. You know mom wouldn’t put anything non-veg in the fridge. As you know, she’s beyond reason when it comes to following null and void customs that are etched on her mind. She gets hysterical when I try to make her see sense. I don’t try hard or she may think that I’m trying to push my opinion on her. I don’t argue with her, unless I feel that she’s open to change her mind. She asks for my advice on little things these days. She feels that she’s getting old and now I must take the decisions. I tell her what I think of the matter and give her options. I don’t know if I’m capable of standing up and being there for her when she needs me. But I’m not giving up. Ever.

I dream about you every other night. Don’t look away, I know you realize what I’m talking about. Just the other day you were holding me in a half-hug when I woke up, like you used to. Don’t deny, you were right there, I could feel your stubble on my cheek. On other nights, you tell me things that I don’t remember when it’s day. I can’t recall a single word now. Na├»ve are the people who say dreams are nothing but your sub-conscious mind playing visual tricks. You are not my sub-conscious. There are some little things that keep coming back to me: silly jokes you found really funny, India losing cricket matches, our drunk neighbors fighting. As days pass, I feel I’m imitating the way you were. I gulp water like you did, I sometimes speak like you used to, I react like you did. And you know what, I wrote all these tenses of the last line in present tense.

That’s it for now. Don’t be conscious that I referred to your visits in my dreams and stay away from me. I would feel really lucky if I could talk to mom during the day and with you during the night. I never want to choose between you two. I will accept nothing but the both of you.

Be with me always.