I never thought that I would wake up one morning in a world which didn’t have my father in it. But it happened. And then the unthinkable also happened. I survived it.
Almost a decade has passed since that day. It hasn’t been easy. There are any number of expected and unexpected things that remind me of him, which suddenly come to my mind and sometimes make me weep and sometimes make me want to laugh out loud and long. Maybe one day that is what you’ll be saying,too?
I remember his sense of humour, his system of organising, whether it be his wallet or letters or finances or clothes. I remember our shared love of music and I know you remember it, too. As a little child, during vacations, I remember you lying quietly between your grandparents, listening to Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Gangubai Hangal and so many more stalwarts. I know this memory is precious to you,too.
What I’m trying to say is, one day you, too, will be left with only memories. Memories of us laughing, singing, memories of our discussions. So many memories! It is these happy memories which help us to carry on long after our loved ones pass on. I’m thankful that we had such a lot of time together, inspite of both of us working full-time and you busy with studies. Now, new memories are created almost daily because calling each other is so easy. You seem, and are, nearer – so I don’t miss you as achingly as my parents must have missed me when I got married and moved a couple of thousand kilometres away from them.
That was the time of letter writing and I remember we never waited for one to arrive. There was always a letter in progress. So much to share on both sides! Grandmas, brother, dog, kitchen tips to read about and new relationships , new town, first job to share about! Today I’m very glad I wrote so many letters home; that I spent long summer months with them; that I was there for them and with them in times of joy and sorrow. The long 40 hour journey in a slow non-ac train never seemed daunting!
I say this to you in such detail because this is what happy memories are made of. And this is what later gives rise to more smiles than tears – in today’s world of packages and glitter, of ambition and discontent, it is easy to forget basic family values, to keep postponing that call or that visit to attend to ‘pressing’ engagements. But all the perks and packages cannot console when the time comes to let a loved one go. And later, the only consolation is that we did spend as much time together as possible, that I was there for them. It helps.
Another consolation is your newer family. A spouse who cares, who understands when to give you a silent hug and when to insist on going for an invigorating walk to raise your spirits. Other family members who rally around you, with whom you can share a joke or a worry; at the end of the day, or of life for that matter, that’s all one needs. Loving people around.
A few more points to bolster you up:
Find some women who share your interests, who enjoy life, who can laugh loudly and sit quietly. They will be your support system when you need it. I have friends who are my counsellors, sounding boards, sisters and critics. I wouldn’t be able to get through some days but for them.
Humour makes life more than palatable. Remember to use it generously every day.
Give back to society what you’ve got from it. Affection, respect, education, shelter- we haven’t earned all of it; we were just lucky to have been born on the right side, so give back generously. Help all those you can. Respect people, be polite, be concerned. In a flippant world ruled by indifferent Yups and Nopes, I appreciate your natural gracious nature. Don’t lose it, you are on the right track.
As I grow older, it comes very strongly to me that the basics matter the most. People, manners, values; the quest to constantly change oneself into a better person. A society that considers material things more important is on a hurtling course to self-destruction. These are the things that have mattered through the ages and will matter, always. The rest – job, perks, titles- is attractive fluff. When Mr Alzheimer strikes, people help, not titles!
Do not wait for age to catch up before de-cluttering life of material possessions. And do not hesitate to give away/ throw things I may leave behind. For, sweetheart, life goes on. You don’t need things to keep our memories alive. You will find enough of us in yourself! And, be assured, we live on in the hearts and minds of those we have loved.
Just be happy, now and always!