I KILL MY FATHER
It came as a cold stab, an icy dagger plunged into the depths of my heart- the news of my father's passing. I knew it was coming, an imminent danger to the peace and quiet of my being. But when the news came it shattered my studied equanimity. All my mental preparedness to steel myself against such an eventuality lay waste as I mourned his death. He was a silent presence in my life. Having been married relatively early I didn't get the chance and the time to spend some conscious years with him. Just a phone call from him, the sound of his reassuring sweet nothings meant I was sheltered. But that day when the call came in I felt exposed bare and violated - violated by the Almighty - our Supreme Father, whom I have not seen but who sent papa in his image. He ruthlessly erased that image. For me papa went a little too soon, a little too quickly. He was 69. Another decade and a half wouldn't have harmed anyone let alone God.
His last rites were a big tamasha with many players and the grieving family caught in the middle- dazed and perplexed. It was like a party only difference being instead of music there was wailing of neighbours, instead of beats there were incoherent recitation of the Panditji's mantras. The ritualistic confusion lasted for ten days. Papa was forgotten in the melee, we too laughed and tried to look somber as life seemed normal with a handsome photograph of him smiling and laughing with us.
Finally the people left. One by one the relatives trickled away having performed their duties sincerely and as per custom. We were left to bear the heavy bundle of loss all by ourselves. The burden was almost non-existent but now it felt as heavy as lead and as claustrophobic as a dark windowless room. Our spirits crumbled under the load, knees gave way as an overpowering realisation of grief and irreparable loss became real. So many people had shared our loss but now the whole weight bore down on us. We as a family tried hard to stay afloat.
Then we too scattered, went to our marital families, to live and love again.My husband stood by me, as solid and silent as a rock, giving me space to come to terms with the darkness I felt but made sure that the space did not swallow me up. My papa's image was permanently etched in my mind, the moment I closed my eyes he would appear, smiling or just be there. I didn't want him to come, not now when his physical form had been vapourised by fire. I wanted him to take himself away, but he persisted.
I buried myself in work to keep my mind off him and his memories. I knew no one would understand the pain I felt. Loss of a loved one is so intimate that no one else can even begun to fathom the intensity of it all unless and until he himself has travelled in the same boat. So my grief became a permanent resident of my heart. I dealt with it in my own way not letting anyone in on the secret. For everyone else I had moved on but reality was I still stood where I was, in the moment of his passing on.
I felt angry at my father. He had taken away the normalcy from my life. He had changed the way I lived. He would haunt me when I was the most vulnerable - in the silence of the night. Everybody in the house slept and I wept- soundless tears seeped into the softness of my pillow. I would not let the others hear the anguish of my soul. I would lay awake, peer into the dark to see if I could spot him. I wanted to believe that he would be standing somewhere watching me. But no that was not to happen
Its been over two years now but still a lump forms, sadness grips my heart,tears well up and the unfairness of it all makes me angry. but now I don't let him pervade my thoughts. I kill him! make him disappear, I want to feel free again, free in the knowledge that he's there, maybe not in form but in spirit. I want to be able to remember him with a smile and a laugh, not with tears and helpless resignation. I want him to come and not want to kill him. Its a struggle but may be some day his memories and love will prevail and I'll freely revel in the happiness of having spent memorable times with him.