To Him we belong and to Him shall we return. In the end, the only thing promised is death
On June 15, late night, I received an email from Flip kart with the subject ‘The perfect gift for your Dad’. I opened the mail to find an image of a father hugging his son with the message that read “From teaching you your first letter to helping you reach new heights! This Father’s Day, say thank you dad for being my superhero! Thank him with love.” For me, this was not just a reminder of a day which celebrates fatherhood but a tear jerker which took me back to the golden days and made me relive those once cherished moments which are now just memories and tales to tell. I believe that children do not need a specific date to celebrate the contributions made by the most important persons in their life i.e., mom and dad and for me every day is a mother’s day and every day a father’s day. But since the names and dates are specified, this year’s father’s day was entirely different for me because I have lost the hero of my life recently, on 27th May, a little over a year after being diagnosed with cancer- “Umeedon ka kaafila bhi bikharta chalagaya, Ek shaksmeri mehfil se uthkar chalagaya.”
This is something I never thought I would be writing at an age of five and twenty, but here I am writing to you Papa. It’s been more than a month since you bid adieu to this mortal world and I have finally mustered the courage to tell you what you must know. I remember losing you like it happened just yesterday. The way my whole world stood still when suddenly I heard the cry of La ilaha illallah and you lying before my eyes bereft of life; my body numb, eyes dry, head heavy and soul so sore. I could not make sense of what was going around me and didn’t know how to handle the death of a dearest one. It is so tough and unnerving to realize that the person with whom I spent twenty five years of my life has gone to meet his Maker and the thought of living the remaining part of my life without the most important man of my being rips me apart.
Papa, I want you to know that right from the time when you held me in your arms, to the day when you saw me off for my first day at school, to the nights when you would swing me in your lap singing ‘Chanda ko doondhne sabhi tare nikal padhe’, to the days when you were overjoyed when I did well in my studies, to the days when you would accompany me up to the bus stop holding my hand when I would leave for school, college or university, to the days when we together rejoiced the bike rides, to the day when you wished me luck with your eyes sparkling with joy on my first day in college as a teaching faculty, to the days when we enjoyed lively and delightful conversations filled with mirth and laughter… today, I am holding onto those beautiful memories and cheerful moments which keep me going.
It was only sometime back while you were fast asleep; I was looking at your face and filling my eyes with your image when suddenly these lines popped up in my mind. Little did I know that this was a premonition of things to come-
Ye dil main jo khalish si hai, Kahin ranjish tou nahi,
Inn aankhun main nammi si hai, Lekin purnam tou nahi.
Hume unse wafaa kithi umeed, Jafaa ki tou nahi,
Maangaaye thay unse zindagi bharkasaath, Aisi bevafaaii tounahi.
Tum jo aaye they mere darr par ek raunak si thi, Kahin ye tumhare jaane ki sadaa tou nahi,
Ye kaisi kaifiyat hai bar paaaeydil, Kahin ye uske dilki pukaartou nahi.
On the day I lost you, I lost a father, my best buddy, the first man I ever loved, my anchor, my pillar of strength, my best teacher, my advisor, my role model, my cushion to cry on, my best hugger in the world, my backbone, my torch bearer, my smile, my laugh, a balm to my soul. And with you I have lost myself. I have lost the spring forever.
To Him we belong and to Him shall we return. In the end, the only thing promised is Death. That last moment when I could feel your heartbeat, that last time when I whispered in your ears to wake up, that last peaceful breath, that last beautiful smile on your calm face, that last motion of your tongue and that last sight of yours when they took you away from me, I will never forget. Such a peaceful departure! I wanted to snatch you from the arms of the angel of death, embrace you and hide you in my bosom from where nobody could take you away from me. This life, indeed, is ephemeral where separation is definite. I wanted you to stay with me till eternity but helpless we are in the hands of fate.
It pains to think that you are not here with us anymore. We may be living miles apart but this distance can never separate us. “Aahatsi koi aaye tou lagta hai ki tum ho, Saaya koi lehraayetou lagta hai ki tum ho” I know you are not here but I can feel you around me. I cannot see you but I can feel you in my every breath. I close my eyes I find you there. I know you will never come back yet I know you are watching over me and your hand will always be there to hold me. I can still smell the fresh aroma of your belongings. The echoes of your voice calling me Jaanana still reverberate. You will be forever alive in my heart, mind, soul and memories. Your picture in my heart will remain beautifully pristine forever. You are a part of my being and I can never let go of you. You will always have a piece of my heart that I will never get back. Whenever I think of you, tears roll down my cheeks unbidden just like summer showers. Even while I write this, I feel you wiping the tears off my face.
Pieces of me lie buried with you. I feel lost, empty and incomplete without you. You left behind a dead soul with a beating heart. I want you to know that not a moment goes by that I don’t miss you. I miss you every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Your absence pains me and I feel choked up when I think about the treasure I lost. The agony you left us in is made easier only by realizing that your suffering is over at last.
Dad, I know you are in a better place now, healthy and strong again, delivered of your pain and suffering, at peace rejoicing with your loved ones in the gardens of Jannah. But the void that your death left is like a gasping wound that no amount of balm can utterly heal. I will hold on to our sweet memories, till we meet in a place where nothing is ever broken, all smiled up and we part no more. Nothing and nobody can fill the vacuum that your departure has created in my life. Your absence is acutely felt and I could not have imagined you leaving us this early and now I have only your memories to sustain myself. The words you have said to me can never be forgotten, the love you showered on me can never be replaced, those warm hugs and sweet kisses will never fade away and your genial smile can never dissolve.
You must know that I will always be indebted to you for the life you gave me and will forever be grateful to have had you as a father. A smiling face with moist eyes is what I get when I think of how we cherished every instant of our lives together when you were responsive. Papa, you taught me to be strong but sorry I am letting you down today. I can never be strong enough to accept that you are no longer with us.I try not to cry yet I cry because I yearn for you, I miss you and I love you.I wish I could just turn back the clock of time to those spells when you were alive and kicking and live out every single day of my childhood,enjoy every moment with you and share with you the deepest secrets that my heart holds. Your life will always be a vivid one, the epitome of strength, inspiration, love and sacrifice. No matter how the words land up in black and white, I can ceaselessly write about you but words will fall short to capture your essence. I love you Papa. Always have. Always will.
(Author is Postgraduate in English Literature)