Father dearest, forgive me

It is a week now since my father passed away. I can’t snatch a wink of sleep tonight as last Tuesday when I was away at home sleeping peacefully, all that made up my father got unmoored and made him drift away. I was not beside him when he sailed past. What would he have felt alone, without my mother, without me and my brother beside him, in the sterile ICU Ward among patients, nurses and doctors. Did he call for us and through gasps for breath did he search for me among strangers?
 
My mother recalled many times the days when she and her siblings took turns to take care of my ailing grandmother at the hospital. She said that a mother can take care of ten children, but all ten children put together cannot take care of a mother. How true this has been in my case! I writhe with pain at the thought that I could not be a part of his life at those final moments when he was conscious, before he was sedated and put on support systems. My brother and I held his hand, it seemed to us like ages between his gasps of breath. We felt, here is the man who fathered us, took us through our childhood and youth, partook in our happiness and sorrows, and became an agent of our dreams and desires. We looked at his fingers, his hand, his face – everything that we were very familiar with. He had always responded to all our calls – “Appa,” we had always called and he had always been there kindly asking, “Ennamma? Ennappa?” We watched with dismay our father slip away from the world and the people that he loved.  
 
The finality settled in me as I saw my father getting prepared for his final journey. My father was a tall and handsome man. He wore panchakacham on festival days and on ammavasai days. He was prepared for the last journey in a panchakacham and an angavathram, a true Brahmin on his journey to the Deva lokham. My brother conducted the rituals that initiated my father’s journey. The finality struck when I saw my father being consumed by the heat in the electrical grate in the crematorium. In less than three quarters of an hour he was all smoldering ashes and bones. The 75 years of vibrant life – thoughts, feelings, emotions – all nullified in a blinking moment!       
 
As I watch the photograph of my father and mother that I have laminated and put on the table, I feel that at last my father has reached a place where he is at peace. I stare long at the photo that my brother had taken of them in his flat. All the three years after my mother passed away, we never looked at the photos where my parents were together. We felt it would hurt my father, we sneaked at the photos quickly and put them away. Now at last we can pull them out and display as we need not have to worry of father’s feelings anymore. 
 

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