My dad whom I lovingly called ‘Taji’ is gone! Where? I don’t know. Why? I know. Because his body gave away and was becoming more and more feeble to hold back the soul which was ready to start another journey. Last month when I crossed continents to meet him just a few days before he embarked on a new voyage, I could sense that the moment was not far away when he will pull away. On the very last day, it was as if not only he but I too knew that the time to say good bye had come. I was breaking inside and desperately hoping that his health could improve and that his smile could add shine to my life again. I was also praying that his pain could end as I could not bear to see the sadness that I knew he felt at his own physical state. And then he decided it was enough. Curtains. He was gone!
He breathed his last while I was holding his hand. It was not the way I could have ever imagined this to be. I was in and out of his room that night every to see how he was doing as he was breathing heavily. And then tired and mentally exhausted I went to sleep only to be woken up late in the night by my mother letting me know that they were taking him to the hospital. I got up, went straight to his room where he was resting alone with his nurse besides him while the rest of the family was preparing to take him to the hospital. I saw a tear in his eye, forcefully held back my own and held his hand to see if I could reach out to him. I could feel his breadth as it left his open mouth and entered my nostrils. We were one. For eternity! I could feel a mild, very mild touch from his fingers on my hand as he silently conveyed his last sermon to me. And then he was gone. Silent. Quiet. Peaceful.
Here was a man who gave a body to my soul. Here was a man who held my hands and taught me how to walk! Here was a man who almost lifted me even when I was a fully grown adult to enable me to perform basic functions when I suffered from acute illness. Here was a man with whom I developed stupid ego clashes when I thought that I had become old enough to be equal to him and yet even though he was hurt, he still loved me immensely. Here was a man, who celebrated all my successes and did not shun me when I failed. Here was a man who loved my wife, my children from the depths of his heart and cared for them far more than me. Always!
Here was a man who suffered a lot in the last few years and yet never expected anything back from me. Here was a man whose Alzheimer affected mind would recognize my one word, ‘Taji’ when I entered his room and send an instant signal and enable his eyes to light up as thousand Watt bulbs. Here was a man who sat the whole night on his bed because I went to my room and slept and forgot to lay him down and yet early morning when I went to him, only smiled and did not utter a single word of complain. Even though I could sense that every bit and bone of his body was tired and shaking. Here was a man who pardoned all my mistakes, all my follies and loved me eternally. Unconditionally.
Why? How could he give so much love? Why did I not find words to thank him ever? Why was I not able to find time to offer my hand to him and be there with him to take care of him when he needed me? Why was he one of the rarest person on earth from whom I only received and could never pay back emotionally, physically or even monetarily?
He is gone for a month now and I am broken inside.
I laugh and act tough and strong in front of others and I also know that he will not come back and that death is a final good bye. Yet I cannot come to terms with it.
Taji, I miss you so much, I could cry! I could cry so much that I could fill oceans of tear if they could reach out to your soul! I feel your presence every day in life but I want you physically to be here.
I want you to pinch Mama again in her sleep and smile back at me and I will clap as I did when I was a small child and adored your every move. I promise I still do. Please come back.
I want you to give that victorious smile again with a V sign that you showed to me riding your scooter while entering the house and informing me of my selection into IIT. It was as if YOU were selected. Yes, you were Taji and I promise this time I will let you know that from my heart. Please come back.
I want you to play billiards again and beat me hollow and I will make you play for hours hoping that you will get tired and lose one game to me. I have the cue in my hand. Please come back.
I want you to come and burst all those crackers that you excitedly used to bring at Diwali. I saw the crackers light up brighter in your eyes than outside. Diwali will come again Taji. Please come back.
I cannot imagine a life without your smile. I cannot imagine to celebrate any family function again without you. I cannot burst a cracker without peeping back to see your happy smiling face or enter a Tim Hortons again without thinking of how much cheer a cup of French Vanilla brought to your lips.
Why Taji? Why did you have to go? Why did you have to leave such a big mark on me that I feel empty, incomplete without you? Why are you not coming back?
Death is final. An end to life form. It is assumed to be the beginning of a new life form but I do not know that. For me today even after a month of his departure, it is an end which is difficult to accept.
I have read all the scriptures. I have written stories and poems about the final good bye. I know I have to face the reality and be strong. And yet now that I have to face it, I am faltering.
I am human and while I knew that he was going, now that he is gone, the pain is unbearable. The loss is real and no words of solace can fill his void. It will be difficult and while I can pretend to have got over it, I know that I will feel his absence in every living day of this life. Till the very end.
Father. Mother. Wife. Son. Daughter. Brother. Sister…. These bonds of love are so strong that no words of Gita, Bible or Koran or any Sufi saint can heal the wounds that are caused when they are broken.
Love is the strongest glue. Period.
And yet Taji, my only solace today in my hours of loneliness is that you reached out to me even in your last breath, held my hand and told me how much you loved me. And asked me to convey the same to my mother, my brother, my sister, my children, my wife, our relatives. How much you cared for us and that even though you were leaving, our bonds will still remain strong. Always.
I know Taji what you meant and yet again I am weak and am faltering in my duty by mourning your loss and not rejoicing in the life moments that you shared with us. I promise that I will try my best to accept the reality in months to come but today, please allow me to remove the mask and cry!
And if my words reach you or could ever touch your soul again, I just want you to let you know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did for me. For us! I love you and I always will!
Posted in Times of India on 22nd February 2017. Link below-
A link to the event held on 21st January 2017 to celebrate the life of my father, Mr. S.C. Narang (3rd July 1941- 16th January 2017) as below-