Tell me Dad, how are you doing? I wonder where you are. Sometimes in my half-sleep, I think you are going to walk into my kitchen, open the fridge and pull out a Pepsi and grab a bag of potato chips. In my version, you tell me you are doing great, that there is an unlimited supply of soda and chips where you are.
Tell me Dad, can you see us? Do you know that Mom lives with us now? We are all taking care of her, just like we promised. She is not the same, but she pretends well. She is so lonely without you and would even pay to hear one of your lectures about how things should be done. She is always remembering every single quirk about you, from how you hated sandwiches, but loved rice and lentils, slurping them, by putting them in your mouth with your hands, eating like only a true Indian. You would tell us there was a certain “santosh” (contentment) in eating with your hands.
Tell me Dad, can you hear us? We have cried tears, loud, silent, in crowded spaces and in the bathroom at three in the morning. People console us, telling us you lived a long life. But I can’t find solace in those voices because they don’t know. We talk about those final days, where blisters covered your body from shingles and breathing was something that didn’t happen naturally for you. It was the vengeance of the cancer that we can’t forgive, the sheer misery of keeping you alive, knowing that the ultimate prize wasn’t the grace of dying in a peaceful way. There will never be personal grace in your dying, because Dad I missed saying goodbye to you by fifteen minutes. What would you tell me if I told you I’m mad that you didn’t wait? Perhaps you would tell me that I should have come earlier. Maybe you would be right.
Tell me Dad, can you hear the laughter? We still laugh. Because that is the way it is meant to be. Dad, really, everyone moves on. When we were all in it, we use to talk about how could we live our lives with one important piece missing. But it happens. I am living my life, laughing at times at your granddaughter’s antics, sighing when she exhausts me. There are times when I tickle my own Mom’s belly. I think that is more for you. To remind you that she hasn’t forgotten to laugh. Even R., your younger daughter and I share laughs over the phone, talking about random happenings in our life. We’ve all moved on, in ways we only know, but each of us won’t ever be able to go completely back. The laughter is there, but sometimes it is a little hollow.
Well Dad, I’ve posed the questions. So at this point you’ve monopolized the whole conversation. But it’s time for me to do some talking. I want you to know that I’m sorry I was late. I didn’t say goodbye like I wanted to. Tell me you meant that to happen, right, Dad? You were trying to protect me, sparing me from watching you gasping for space.
I want to tell you Dad that Mom, Sis and I miss and love you.
We all wish you could tell us too.
On March 22 of this year it will be two years since my father’s passing. Thanks to my family, friends and readers who tell me everyday how much I am loved. A very hearty and special thanks to the blogger community who have marched with me in March, writing messages of comfort, on and off line. I will never be able to thank you enough. xoxo Rudri