Tuesday, March 17, 2015

THE DAY THE LAST LEAF FELL

I had turned 36 that morning and 360 kilometres away he had walked into a hospital never to return. For the first time he had forgotten my birthday and I waited in fear for that ominous phone call.

The next day was HOLI, a festival we both didn’t like too much, the day that was his last.


A few weeks ago the last extended conversation between me and my late father was about strength in the face of
adversity. He cited Guru Granth Sahib:


“Chidya naal main baaz ladava,

Tabhi Guru Gobind Singh naam kahawa”

(I will make the sparrows capable of fighting the hawks, for it is only then that i will be able to uphold my name.)


Little did we know that we would soon be the sparrows fighting the merciless hawk called death. We talked a lot about death and sorrow during his last stay with me a few weeks ago. As I would comb his thinning grey hair, massage his furrowed skin and clip his old nails, I knew he was slowly slipping away.


He would narrate anecdotes from his colourful childhood across the borders to my little one and think about his departed siblings and parents.


My mother and me would look at each other and quietly share an unspoken fear and grief of letting go off him.


On a centuries old highway as the noise around HOLI had died down and I was travelling towards him, hoping against hope, he decided not to wait any longer. I, the loud and expressive one who was as vocal about sorrow as everything else, for the first time in life encountered a voiceless grief. There were no tears, no wailing, only a sea surging inside my chest that had to be contained, because it would then drown everything else.


It was not numbness, but a different kind of awareness. A brief instant in which I had finally grown up. A milestone moment in which I had aged several years, Daddy’s little girl had become a really big girl.


It was a long and cold March night in Shimla. All night I sat next to what they now called his dead body, I lived my 36 years all over again.


The ritualised frenzy up to the cremation was just that, mere ritual. When I lit the pyre a part of my soul went away with him and a huge part of his soul stayed back in mine. My lesson from the crematorium – a body is just a small bit of what a parent is to a child.


The urn that had his remains also had my childhood and memories of his eight decades long life. The journey to the Ganges through an arduous stormy night culminated at the same Ghats where he had walked holding my hand and explained to me the complicated family tree captured
in the circular record books of family priests.


We both loved rivers. I entrusted him to his favourite one and wondered whether I would be able to love the rivers the same way again.


Like my breath that I can’t see only experience he stays back in me. I will miss his hugs and his voice, but his warm smile shall envelope my heart forever.


Like his old-fashioned cursive handwriting, his papers, his books, photos, me and my child have his distinct carving on our beings.


Life is only lived in a linear manner, it is indeed circular. My little one snuggles close to me and murmurs in half-asleep – Mummy I will be your papa now and you are my grandpa.

I close my eyes and am more determined to live on in peace for him and for my little girl.

Orange Flower Awards

@IAmSufiZen

COMPANIONS CALLED BOOKS

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Frankenstein
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
Lolita
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind
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I WILL RING THE BELL.WILL YOU?

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!