Good bye, dear father

My father passed away on 12th July 2006, aged 75. He could have lived for hundred years, but it was not to be! Something snapped in him totally when my mother died nearly three years ago. She was his anchor, he had lived 47 years with her believing earnestly that nothing can go wrong in his world. The card castle collapsed the moment my mother died. Within a blinking moment everything that he believed as existence vanished. He packed his belongings in a suitcase and left his own flat in Chennai to live with my brother in Bombay. There was no way that he could have lived alone in his flat, he could not for his life prepare a simple meal for himself and he would have gone insane continuing to live in the same space where he had lived glorious years with my mother.
He spent his time between Chennai and Bombay, while at Chennai he stayed with me in my flat. I watched sadly his world shrink, all his belongings now fitted into a cupboard. I periodically cleaned his flat, sifting through all the things that he had let go after my mother went away. Gradually he could not bear to think that the house where he lived with my mother was kept locked. He wished that someone would open the windows, let in fresh air so that happiness and laughter would settle in the corners of the house. He sold his house to an acquaintance of many years. I brought home with me my mother’s sarees, family photos that my mother cherished collecting. My father brought home the large photographs of his parents and his cousin – the people who were dear to him and who presided over the lives of my parents. There was the marriage photo of my father and mother. These photographs adorned the walls of his flat. My father carefully wrapped the photographs in old veshtis and bed sheets and helped me put them away. He never asked to hang the pictures in the walls of his room in my flat. He knew that they cannot belong there, not that I fancied having large dark framed photos put on the walls in my flat, even in his room – they would clash with my minimalist décor. Now I understand what he would have felt to wake up in the middle of the night without my mother beside him and stare at the walls that he could not recognize in the panic and pain of loneliness. Many a night he had stumbled through darkness to call me and sat with me till the panic passed. My brother too has helped him many nights to chase the ghosts of his past. 
Although my father held me and my brother, his face was turned to the retreating image of my mother. He never moved on. During all the three years the pang of loss never became an ounce less, it manifested in different ways — panic, fear, aloneness, self-pity. He became so self-focused, focused on his own sorrow that the world slowly slipped away. Nothing that I and my brother did could pull him out of the dark world of fear, loneliness and depression. This disengagement with the world and the lives of others took its toll on his health – physical and mental. The muscles in his face remained tense always, smile vanished from his face and anxiety gripped his voice. It was a definite down hill walk for him where fear and foreboding of tragedy haunted him. He walked fearing that something catastrophic would happen and every minute of his existence passed in his attempts to keep the ghouls at arms’ distance. My father was no match to the phantoms that he attempted to wish away as he tossed in his bed. He remained restless. This was really too much to ask of a man frail in spirit, temperament and physique.
His health started failing rapidly, it was the case of mind taking over matter. In this state he trusted us totally – trusted that we will help him get peace of mind. We, my brother and I, decided to take over his life. We gave firm commands to his consciousness, we spoke to him for hours on how to be positive, tutored him how to orchestrate his thoughts. Sometimes he felt fresh blood flow through him, sometimes he stared at us sadly and said that we will not understand what was going on his mind.
Even through this turbulent period, my father never lost his fine taste for music. The way his heart beat and the blood coursed through his veins, his passion for music remained intact. Music held his attention span, soothed his nerves, calmed his mind and kept him away from disturbing thoughts. Even the evening before he died he was moved by Santhanam’s rendition of a Thiagaraja kriti. He wept when he listened to Sri Chakra Raja Simhasaneshwari. He expressed that he wanted to seek adaikalam in the feet of Goddess Rajarajeshwari.
I wonder what gave him courage to take that big step from life to death. By learning to look at fear at face, by experiencing a profound pain that could never be siphoned off by time, he exhibited courage. Or is not death itself an act of courage? I did not know you enough, dear father. You were a brave man in your own right. Good bye, dear father, rest in peace. 

5 thoughts on “Good bye, dear father

  1. uma u have always been an excellent writer these notes on ur mom and dad are just deeply moving ,having known them for these many years i am able to feel the pain u are going thru again after ur dads demise !May God bless their souls and give them peace.

  2. uma, very very touching. Having lost my father just a few weeks back, i found my thoughts getting reflected in your words…its as if i was reliving the last few weeks in the hospital with Appa thro your words.

  3. This is very moving – makes me remember my father – though not a music fan was very devoted in his final years – the song sri chakra rajeswari is so moving

  4. Hello Uma,

    My name is Srividya. It was by chance that I stumbled upon your blog. I was actually looking for the meaning of the song “SrichakrarAja SimhAsanEswari” and one the links hit this post of yours. I have to say your writing style is beautiful. Eloquent and poetic … I am sorry for the loss of your parents … the way you write, I really am. I wish you well.

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