Remembering father on Mother’s Day
Often I would see dreams where he is back, healthy, laughing and telling me he is back.
- Total Shares
Last month was my father’s fifth death anniversary. He suffered for ten years with renal failure before he caved in. We knew the end was coming but when it came, we were not prepared for the impact. I went dazed for days. I would go through the necessary condolence and memorial meetings with a certain stillness that people mistook as poise and grace, but actually I was numb and dazed. Then two weeks later, in an exotic Sri Lankan resort, the penny dropped on me that he is not there. I howled and cried in my hotel suite and wrote a note for him, “You didn’t have to leave dad for me to write this,” which I must say I have shamelessly milked for last five years at every birth and death anniversary of his. Partly because I was too lazy to write anything new for him, partly because I am always caught up in my life, though the truth is that I am not doing anything concrete ever.
This weekend, when I was in Delhi to celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday and to take some epochal decisions in my life, I spent time with mom. Felt how she has aged, and how dad still creeps up in her conversations. I thought this Mother’s Day, I would write an ode to dad and his remembrance.
The first year is always the most difficult. I kept waking up thinking this is all a nightmare and he would be standing next to my bed, smiling, asking something very mundane and matter of fact. I was not able to believe that it has actually happened. But when the first anniversary came about, it was like the wheel had turned full cycle. I knew for sure the door had closed on us permanently. He is not coming back. There is a finality to the morning of the first anniversary. Like one’s fate has been sealed. Irreversibility.
But then the dreams started occurring. And they were so vivid and original in their plots that I doubt my mind can ever throw up such an ingenious setting. Few months after his death, I saw a dream where I am standing in the lift lobby of the 17th floor of some hospital. Suddenly, the lift door opens and dad walks out. I am surprised and also elated at his sight. I hug him joyously, but then I notice he has Frankenstein stitches at the edge of his face going down his neck and chest, like tracing his oesophagus. The stitches were so big as if someone has literally ripped his body open. I was shocked and intrigued at the same time. I ask him, what are these stitches dad? He brushes me aside, "Don’t ask me." I persist. He turns and says, "You won’t believe it, they scooped off 17 tonnes of tar from my body". (My dad was a chain smoker all his life. He only gave up in the last few years of his life.) I was dizzy. Seventeen tonnes! That’s a lot of weight! He doesn’t even weigh 17 tonnes. I look at him quizzically. He, as if reading my mind quips, “Damned! If you smoke a lifetime you would accumulate that much amount of tar!” I sigh, "Yes". We walk into a patient room. Mom is offering namaaz. As the door opens, they both see each other. Dad walks up to her. They both hug each other and start crying inconsolably with mom whispering, “I prayed a lot for you!” And then I woke up.
Often I would see dreams where he is back, healthy, laughing and telling me he is back. I would be happy, but then suddenly my rational brain would kick in and I would start thinking, how did he survive the grave? I would start imagining myself in a grave, and immediately I would start feeling constricted and would wake up.
Once my sister was missing him terribly. She would call me from the United States and tell me how miserable she was. When this went on for a few days, dad walked in angrily, wearing a white kurta-pyjama in my dream and said, “Tell your sister, I am not dead! I am just on a long holiday!” And he walked away in a huff.
But the classic is this one. I see myself in a lavish penthouse. I am sitting at the edge of a king-size bed, marvelling at the penthouse. Dad is fussing over the plumbers and electricians over the fittings and then suddenly he turns around at me and quips, “I guess you will have to wait a long time to enjoy this penthouse. None of your girlfriends are dead!”
This is for you mom, this is for you dad. And after wasting forty-odd years of my life, I have realised the biggest blessing is a woman’s presence in anyone’s life. God bless you mom. May you live long. May you live healthy. May you always keep correcting my Urdu. And thank you for making me cherish and respect women.