Mom :Wake up- its 5
Me: Yeah . ten minutes . Please
Ten minutes later – coming straight from the kitchen
She :Wake up- its six now !!
Me , half asleep –“Ma it was just five ten minutes back . Does time have to fly only when I sleep ?”
She – “You will take good care of him , right?”
Me- “Good care of whom?”
She “Your father- I will die before him.”
Me , still half asleep – “I Love you Ma!”
She – “Go take a look at him – he sleeps like a baby”
Me- “I know. I’m his daughter. I’m sleeping too, by the way. But you only love him”
She – “If you don’t take care of my husband after I’m gone, I swear I will come back as a ghost and haunt you. I am street smart .My mind can get corrupt some times. He’s pure at heart.”
Me (snuggling up to her lap) – “I will do all I can to take good care of him. You needn’t tell me to do that .You only think of him and never me Ma! I’m nothing to you!! Have you ever told him to take care of me? No na? ”
She – “Pappa will take care of you.”
Me – *Sigh* getting up to give her a bear hug and make up for an argument we had the previous night
She – “How will the both of you manage with no street smartness in you at all after I’m gone? You are like him only. Total child at heart. You must learn how to stand up for yourself sometimes. Otherwise, people will only take advantage of you. ”
Me- “Let them try to ! It will get taken care of when the time comes.”
She(handing me a steaming hot cup of coffee) – “Tut! Tut! Like father, like daughter!!” (Shaking her head) “Ayyo!! Who is going to take care of whom after I’m gone? Both these people don’t speak or stand up for themselves. Only god can take care of them !”
A year and a half after her death, he lay in the CCU. His body was deteriorating, part by part. Every time he opened his eyes, he imagined that he was at the place he loved most- An ashram that my family is associated to. The doctors had to be from there, he thought. The nurses too were from there. His guru visiting him was like one of his last wishes coming true. It was time to let go. It was yet to sink in, but it was time
The alarm rang and I jumped out of bed – The day a daughter dreaded most had finally arrived. I hadn’t slept all night. As a little girl, the very thought of letting Dad and Mom go was my worst nightmare ever. But it was time to do so . Much as I dreaded it, it was meant to end like this.
Would Mom have done the same thing as I did?
Would she have let go so easily with a smile ?
Did I love him too less, Did I love him too much ?
Crap! Did I even have a heart?
These questions rang through my sleep deprived head that night. I did not know the answers then. I do not know now either. All I knew was that he didn’t deserve the pain his body was taking. The way he clutched my hand in fear every time IV was administered said it all. His eyes said it all. Nothing else mattered.
Letting go was not easy. It meant coming home to an empty dining table with no dad to drink coffee or beer with. It would mean that I would have no one to cook for, no one who would wait to say his prayers with me every evening. It would mean that there would be no more voices screaming “Out!” or “goal!” every time the football or cricket tournaments ran. The one person who wanted me to “freak out” every time I went to a pub with a friend, but also got worried if I didn’t return home would be gone. Most importantly, it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to give back anymore for all the love I had received. He made my rubber bands and tied my pig tails when I was at school. He stitched clothes for me out of waste cloth that I would proudly wear on my birthdays, telling my friends “Daddy made it !” When I failed a subject first , he calmly told me to take failure in my stride, and explained that all I had to do was try harder to succeed.
But then, letting go was all I could do them. All that courage just came from nowhere in a matter of five minutes or lesser.
But at the same time, a deep sense of satisfaction prevails. He died while I was holding his hand. Six months before his death, there was talk of me going overseas to pursue a masters degree and work in parallel. I was about to resign my current job, but decided against doing so. I had no reason to decide against it then, but looking back, it all falls into place. I know that I am a self-confessed agnostic. I do what I think is right at the moment, and listen to what comes from within me most times. He was like that too, and life has always given us something to be grateful for. This is much, much more than what I asked for, ever. Not every daughter is blessed with the fortune of having the two people she loves the most die in her own arms.