NOTE: I STARTED THIS ON FATHER’S DAY. THIS FIRST ONE WITHOUT MY FATHER. HAVE MANAGED TO COMPLETE IT ONLY NOW.THIS IS BUT THE BEGINNING…

I am laughing and playing with my friends and sisters. The old stone house stands in the background. I can hear the familiar sounds – sparrows chirping, a crow’s fluttering wings, my mother chatting idly with my grandmother, a dog barking in the distance, a koyal’s whistle from the tree. I don’t know what I am doing but I am there under the shade of the majestically tall almond tree, it’s huge leaves and foliage creating a large semicircle of shade on this side of my compound wall. I know I can climb the roof of the caretaker’s shed into the neighbour’s garden and pluck some of the star fruit and chickoos later. Or on the other side the Amla tree beckons. One swing of the stick and the little munchkins will scatter on the floor. Then it’s only about collecting it in the expanse of my dress or the depth of my pockets. Or even an old handkerchief.

***

I am late. I am uncomfortably late. And I know I shouldn’t be. I should’ve woken up earlier. I should’ve kept my uniform and books ready at night. I shouldn’t have been up reading so late. I should’ve…I shouldn’t have…  Oh never mind! I am late. I feel guilty as I hear the snapping of his fingers as he hurries me up…

 ***

I am trudging up the winding road to my college. I’ve been dropped at the bottom of the road because going up is not en route. I accept that without an argument.

***

 I am in office. At lunch I hurry out to meet him at the nearby restaurant. He passes on a steel lunch box to me. It’s food made by my mother that he has come to deliver – only about 30 kilometres changing three modes of transport. He has mild tea there while I have coffee. We chat aimlessly and then I go back to work.

***

On 9th May 2018, a few weeks after his 91st birthday, my father breathed his last. I held his hand as he stoically accepted his passing although he couldn’t speak. There was no melodrama. He just winced with pain. And then he was no more.

For me, it’s a lifetime saying good bye. My father has always been my hero. In my childhood. In my teens. In my working years. And in later life as I went back to his house and he took charge all over again. It was always him looking after me. Even when I looked after him in the last couple of years as age and dementia crept wickedly over to tighten the noose around his relentless spirit to live life to the fullest.

The end of an era. They said. Life goes on. They said. Such is life. They said. Cherish his memories. They said.

And yet…

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Pic by Jal in Indianapolis 2013

Day after day, his loss gnaws deeper into my psyche. It’s not a physical loss. It’s not a mental loss. It’s an emotional void. A gaping hole. The black getting blacker. The silence getting louder. The dreams getting more vivid.

Ever since the day he passed on, in my dreams I’ve regressed. Back to the little girl who played aimlessly in the front yard. The teenager whose father only encouraged her unconditionally. The young woman whose father chose her career for her… In my dreams, nothing spectacular happens. But the past is present. It’s here. It’s today. And he is very much there.

Speak not to me words of wisdom, of loss and bereavement. I am not grieving for him. I know he is in a happy place. I am mourning my loss. My need. My greed. My wanting more time. My wanting so much more.

And my wanting to say so much more about one of the most influential persons in my life. And the abject penury in my being able to do so.

That last day, not knowing it was his last day as I saw him laboring to breathe I could only think of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into the good night’

And I quote…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The truth is, at 91, my father did not rage, did not want to rage. He went gentle into the good night. Reunited with my mother.

But me? I am left to rage rage against the dying of the light.

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