If there ever is a word called ‘Telephobia’ it was all over me during the last weeks of December 2016. Dad was seriously ill at the hospital. The ringtone on my mobile (coincidently the theme music from the Good the bad the ugly) gave me the goose bumps every time it went on.
The writing was on the wall when the docs told me and my brother that it was ‘a matter of a few days’ and I was steeling myself for that dreaded day. I was pushing myself to stay strong as I spent time with him during the last few days of his life as he battled his illness bravely – strong as a pillar, an epitome of grace, courage and faith – as he always was. At some points, I was not sure of how to cope up with the impending loss. The gloom was scary.
That dreaded call came just past midnight on the 28th of December 2016. My wife who had stayed by his side at the hospital for four days along with my mom, called to break the news.
Yet, when it actually happened and the call came in, something inside me just snapped and flicked a switch. A sudden surge took over me – call it strength, responsibility or even emotions (or the lack of it - I really don’t know), and here I was a brave, strong son, taking over the mantle of the family. Even when I saw his mortal remains at 2 AM in the hospital with mom sobbing uncontrollably, I was calm and composed. Touching his feet one last time along with my brother, with a prayer in my heart, I turned to take my mother’s arms and lead her home (after her 4 days at his bedside at the hospital) and get back to the hospital, to complete the formalities along with my brother and my wife to take the mortal remains of my dad back home. Not a tear left my eye all through and even on the final moments when my brother and I stooped to light the Pyre, I was as strong as a hulk - devoid of emotions.
It is still a mystery on where that strength came in though there’s nothing that can compensate a parent’s loss. It is a larger blow in adulthood because you are at the point where you are actually friends with them and relish their presence – especially amidst your children.
His demise has already changed me – kind of adjusted my place in the world, in my family and how I look at the world apart from the new found strength.
- In an odd way it has made me a better son, brother, husband and parent (though not sure if Mom, Brother, Wifey and Daughty would vouch for it).
- The small particulars of his life, the kind I barely noticed when he was alive, grow into great lessons or even revelations.
- I am acutely aware of what memories can mean to my family – especially my daughter and how I will impact her life while I am on this earth.
- I now realise the value systems of dad that people adore – much after he is gone, that money is just another brush in the canvas of life . . . I’m sure, there’ll be more as the years roll by. . .
Every now and then, when his favourite music rends the air, or his favourite dish is prepared at home, or I spot a man with a familiar build or trait, or see a tennis game of his favourite heroes of yesteryears on TV, I feel a knot in the chest, and involuntarily turn to dad, a huge lovely frame adorning my drawing room wall . . . . his famous line “What man?” echoes in my mind, giving me a huge energy boost - to move along in life. . . .