Dad, I want to dedicate this post, the 100th, to you. Without you I wouldn’t be what I am. However I want to, I’ll never be able to pay back what you did for me and for the rest of us despite precarious means at your hand.
Exactly 30 years today. Exactly the same time as I’m writing this post. It’s still vivid in my mind. That night I came back late, later than usual (forgive me Dad). It was nearly midnight. I turned the door knob in a slow motion lest it’d tweet in the still air. The door wasn’t locked, purposefully so that I could get in without disturbing the family’s sleep.
Those were the days, the good ones; you could leave the door without lock, even open, anytime; nobody would intrude.
I got in, turned on the lock in the same manner, removed my slippers and tiptoed to my room. I know you are easily awakened at the least noise; and you had to get up early, before sunrise, for your usual prayer. But first I peeped into your room, which you shared with mom and the other children.
Mom lay flat in the large bed besides the juniors. In the adjacent small (single) bed, on your back, your right leg straight along the length, your left leg bent and protruding upwards, you were facing the ceiling. You were in a deep sleep. Well, that’s what I thought. I crept in my room and slipped under my cover. I didn’t know you had already left us, for the heavenly abode. Nobody knew at that moment. How could they? Everybody was snoring.
The next morning I was awakened in a jerk.
“Get up … I think your father’s no more … get up…”
Mom was yelling, disconsolately. You didn’t wake up for the Morning Prayer. She knew something was wrong. That was it. When I rushed to your bed, you were still in the same position as I last saw you. Beside your bed, I lay dumb, tears rolling off; you had gone, for ever. I felt the guilt of not having been able to bid you good night.
You were only in your early years of retirement; well deserved after so many days of hard labour. Yes, you had done everything possible for our comfort. You never thought of your own well-being. You were always concerned about others. I learnt it from you: “Care for others, God will care about you.” Your dynamism, multi-disciplinary approach and courage characterized your will to succeed in the decent upbringing of your off springs. You did it, Dad. We have nothing to complain about. Although you were the typical “jack-of-all-trade”, you didn’t want your children to endure the same sacrifice as you did.
I still remember the days when we used to go to the fields. You’d carry me on your bicycle through the stony and muddy roads, in the sun and in the rain. You’d pedal hard to force the headwind movement. You used to sermonize on the way. I do still recall your advice; and I try as far as I can to put into practice your teachings. They are engraved in my mind. For you what mattered most was the spiritual well-being that keeps you in balance.
For somebody with hardly any schooling due to poverty, a self-made man as you used to say, you had indeed a high sense of morals. Your quest for knowledge was insatiable. You had a mission: “learn… to teach others”. You shared everything you knew. I always cherish some of the values you taught me:
– Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t others do to you.
– Be calm, honest, truthful and sincere, always.
– Never let those who come to your door go empty-handed.
– Always respect the elders; don’t call them by their names, say uncle, Sir, Mr, etc.
– Seek education, always. Learn from the learned.
– Know that you are being watched by the Almighty.
– When you are in difficulty turn to the Lord.
– Avoid egotism. Share with others. The more you share the more you get in return.
Of course, there are a lot more; and they are not new. But I learnt them from you first.
Dad, I wish you were here. You left us too early. You were still young at 63. What could we do? The Almighty’s call knows no delay, not even a second. The angel (of death) had done its job in utter silence. You’ll always be remembered as a model, as a guide, as a teacher, as a writer, as a poet, as a priest, an honest, trustworthy and reliable person, although you led a modest life.
May the Almighty bless you! Love you Dad.