An Ode to My First and Only Love, My Dad: The Day I Lost Him to The Scythe of Merciless Death

RANI BIBI

“You are such a careless girl”, he said while she ran through the front door straight into her car. She was on her way to office. Fathers are difficult people to impress. “No matter how old we grow they still treat us as a kid”, she thought and ignited the engine, browsing through her favorite playlist. The Weather was pleasant, just the kind of weather u want for a long drive. But she wasn’t going on a long drive. It was just a 15 minute drive from her home. Navigating through the turns she kept thinking about this “careless” title she just earned.
“I am earning new titles nowadays,” She thought and a counter thought sprouted in corner of her brain.
“I am not careless. Fathers have this strange habit of not praising their children; they are the first ones to scold when we do bad and last ones to praise when we do good”. She thought and pumped up the music. Tunes of ” Bechasai khan mouj kour” filled the air, wondering about the meaning of these notes, she pushed the paddle more intensely.
“Why is Bollywood so complicated? Why can’t they just keep things simple? Now I have to find some Kashmiri person who can translate these lines for me.” She talked to herself.
Her eyes brushed past the sight of children leaving for school those innocent wide toothed smiles reminded her of school days. And how can she not miss those weekly visits of her parents. She, narrating everything she did in week to her father. He listened patiently. Sundays were fun. Every time she smiled, its reflection appeared on face of her father. For her father, happiness in its zenith was seeing his children smile. For him no other happiness ever existed.
“But, I am not careless, this thought knocked her out of past. And she was already near her office building.
“I strongly believe that “Rest” is the natural state of human beings. If a person admits that he enjoys not being at rest, He is either lying or has no other choice.
“Wish I can go back and crash on my bed again for some more hours” her heart desired and in rebellion, she pulled herself out of her car and started climbing towards her office.
After a transaction of few warm greetings and some compulsory smiles she occupied her seat. Now she started planning her days work. For her it was like tracking the psychological Atlantis. “But that’s what I do every day. And that’s what I get paid for.” She thought to herself and straightened her back and mentally dived in the pile of papers resting on her table.
While she was browsing through the papers, the phone rang. To her surprise, it was her cousin calling her on official number.
“That is unusual,” she thought and received the call.
“Hello”, she said.
“Rani, we are taking your papa to hospital,” the voice at the other end said.
Suddenly, it appeared to her that things around her have started turning upside down. Her hands sweated. Throat turned dry. Her heart paced in clear disagreement. She could barely speak.
“Wait, what happened to him?,” She interrogated while leaving her cabin in a hurry.
“He is not well”.
Suddenly she felt her blood pressure dropping. She lost command on her legs and somehow she hardly managed to reach her car.
She accelerated in full thrust and at same time she called everyone who could give her information about her father’s whereabouts.
Everyone assured her that things were going to get well; they suggested her to drive cautiously but for her every word dropping from their mouth was weightless and meaningless.
“He was just alright when I left home”, she thought and accelerated further.
Outside the hospital she saw her uncle running here and there in panic.
She went straight into the hospital and her uncle guided her into the room. As she entered, she felt the sky falling down. Just in front of her was her father lying with face covered with white cloth. She went near him and lifted the cloth from his face. She wasn’t able to believe that her father, someone full of life, was laying there absent his soul. It was hard for her to believe that he was dead.
She almost lost her senses. On way to home, she saw her younger brother smiling at the convoy of cars rushing past him. He was completely unaware of things. That was the last genuine smile she saw on his face.
At home, she saw hundreds of people gathered and in complete chaos she clearly located her mom wailing in the middle of the throng, which tore through the crowd and shattered her heart into million pieces and that’s when she finally realized that she has lost her most prized possession.
It was raining but all her feelings somehow suddenly retired, as if someone has sucked all the oxygen from the atmosphere; she was choking. For her, this was the end of the world. Her whole body was lifeless the only thing she felt was her aching heart as if someone was hammering nails into it.
Suddenly, she felt as if the whole world has vanished and she was the only one crawling on the face of the earth, shouting at the peak of her voice calling back her father, longing for just one glimpse of him, smiling at her. She can trade her worlds for just one glimpse of him. But Death befriends no one. Death is merciless and knows no emotions.
There, in front of her they were taking her father to his final abode. She begged everyone to leave them alone to let her keep him. Her cries were falling on deaf ears.
Life has a way of testing person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once. For her no grief was greater than this.
Sometimes, the death of an Individual is actually the death of whole family. Her whole family was dying. With every step towards the Graveyard part of life inside her was evaporating.
At graveyard, she got to see his face for the last time. To her, it felt as if he was in some deep sleep, unaware of the world around him which he cared a lot about. He was resting in peace. He was so fond of his moustache, and for him it was the sign of strong will and fearlessness. She touched his face and curled his moustache.
“You are meeting God, My Papa, I want you to face him with a same charismatic personality,” She whispered in his ear. Rest in peace my world. From now on I am father to your children. I promise you that I will take care of them… but… but.. “She mumbled” do me a favor please I need u to take care of me. Please come back I need you. Come back to me”, she cried.
And they started descending him into his final resting place.
Back home, everyone surrounded her mother. Like the warriors who were back home after losing everything in battle. The absence of her father created the kind of vacuum, a strange feeling of hollowness and emptiness.
She remembered the recent promise she made to her father.
She wondered if our dreams are really our own, or if we are all fated to fulfill the unrealised dreams of our parents. But today, it struck her that perhaps the best way to remember the life of someone who shaped and inspired her is to realize their dreams. Perhaps the best way to honour them is to carry the torch they dropped, to pick up the broken pieces of their hopes for the world, to revisit their incomplete things and turn them into successes. Perhaps the best way to celebrate them is to try as hard as you can to walk in the world with the same compassion, humility, love, and joy that they carried with them, so that the light of their life will not have been extinguished with their passing.
She filled the vacuum. She pulled her siblings up, hugged them and assured them that they will face it together.
Suddenly, she felt a strange pat on her back. For a few moments, she felt the hands of her father on her shoulders, as If he was appreciating her. She turned around only to find no one there. Then she heard someone whisper in her ear, “You are not careless”****** and she wept.

—The author can be reached at:simran.rani90@gmail.com