Death stares at every soul. It is unpredictable. But, it is a reality. The scythe of death took away my dear and beloved father, who I used to call Abbu, recently. With great reluctance, I have come to accept that my Abbu is no more. The mere thought of his tender touch and soft smiles moisten my eyes. I miss those radiant eyes that evinced a million tales or the curated words that conveyed so much beyond what was spoken. Nearly fourteen weeks down the line, the sun still shines, clouds envelope the sky, moon moves, people continue with their normal routines but my world has turned upside down. My father was the centre of my existence and universe. He was my backbone- the reason behind my jovial nature. His departure snatched my smiles. I have ceased to exist the day he breathed his last.
Customary condolences are over. Mourners minimized with each passing day. The amount of pain I feel is unbearable. None can share it. My younger brother, Younis, is a brave heart. He hides the invisible trauma he goes through, puts a brave face and smiles in return. He pretends to act young but he can’t. It shows on his face. He is not able to come to terms with the loss. None in my family is.
I never knew that that my dad would leave us so early. He left us devastated. Death be not proud- is what he taught us all his life. Once upon a time, not long ago, dinner discussions became depressing as dad would frequently discuss the eternal journey. I could not dare to confront him but I could not tolerate it either since he was my prized possession. I hugged him and begged to stop. He did.
“Abbu, you are our only hope, who will take care of us if God forbid something bad happens to you. Do you want me to end my life so that we are buried together?”, I would ask him forlornly. He could see tears stinging at the corner of my eyes. “But, beta he would retort, nobody dies for anybody.” He was absolutely correct. Now, I yearn to hear his “Wansa zowa” to my “Papa Kati chev.” He was he, the prince of my darling mother. Brought up in an extremely disciplined and democratic environment, he never forced his decisions on us. My dad was a perfect person. He nursed us with utmost care and affection. At times, he would wake up to offer pre-dawn prayers and prepare breakfast for all of us.
My beloved dad was my best-friend. I was his most pampered kid. Long time ago, a tragedy had struck us when our downtown dwelling went up in flames. On that fateful day, I was not home. The moment I saw the blaze consuming my abode, my ear-piercing shrieks wet his eyes. For him, I was a son. He knew when I was merry and when miserable. He would simply read my mood. Being the the best dad in the world, he would wake up in the dead of the night and prepare coffee for me during exam time. He was my stress-buster.
A man of his words, smitten by the love of his family, dad was our backbone.
On February 04, Radio Kashmir’s morning news bulletin announcement which stated that it was world cancer day, soured our mood since this dreaded disease had killed our hope. Heavy sighs sans my dad in the house are adding to the emptiness and melancholy that defines our abode now.
To reminisce about my dad further, he was armed with staunch faith in Allah Almighty but he never forced his views on us. A man who rose above sectarian considerations, Dad saw humanity where others saw red. Dad was also hospitality incarnate: Even during the last legs of his life, unconscious, unnerved and uncomfortable on bed, he would insist on visitors and guests being treated well.
Dad always used a humane approach. He was a true caretaker. During the deadly deluge of September 14, when the troubled waters seeped inside the house of our next-door neighbors and when the structure was about to crumble my dad rolled up his sleeves and tirelessly helped them to set things right.
He was once in a millennium soul. Today, when I pray, I feel him around, calling my name. I struggle hard to hold back warm tears. I crave for his single glimpse. I know he can’t be back but his memories are my hope against hope. We lost a jewel. Being his laadli, I feel his demise has created a huge void and emptiness in my life. Papa, you live in the marrow of my bones. No matter, you are not with us physically but you are and will always be with me in my soul, spirit and heart. As I am writing this piece- my humble attempt to pay tribute to your well-defined personality, I can see you smiling from skies. Keep smiling Papa!
—The author is a student at Media Education and Research Center, University of Kashmir and can be reached at: [email protected]