I am not the first human to lose a parent. However for me the experience of losing someone I had known all my life was not like what I had expected it to be.
We were prepared – that’s what we all supposed. Prepared for what? To see him die? However, there was a lot more we were not prepared for. The void left behind by the departed one is unfathomable and alarming. I feel it now. Though trite, such statements about death seem to be gaining more depth at this point.
When I saw him on his last night (Oct. 10, the day I reached there), the glow in his eyes was on the wane. His eyes were open and gazing but I doubt whether they perceived anything. He was greedily devouring every bit of air. The laboured breath was not at all giving him any ‘satisfaction’, I could read his thoughts. Seeing his struggle I realized there is nothing more (mundanely) divine than to be able to breathe normally!
I could not believe I was looking at the same person I bid goodbye five weeks before.
What was in his mind? Did he have something to tell us?
While others tried to inform him about my arrival he kept on murmuring, “Aara? Aara?” (Who’s that?) Did he recognize me? No cue. He had no last words for me, not even my name. When I asked him if he needed something he clearly stated he did not. All communication was gradually coming to an end, so were his requirements. After all what was left to say and ask? Or, were all the untold words, the unexpressed feelings and fears choking him?
By the next morning it was as if his body had already given itself the pack up call. After two feeds we felt we were just filling in a body that was no more in need of such nourishment. The huge oxygen cylinder bubbled listlessly. He was perspiring with each variation in his body. We could read the changes even without the pulse/saturation meter (a device that is going to haunt me forever). And my sister asked me later, “What were we waiting for, monitoring the readings each minute?” Maybe there was nothing left to do other than just watch.
By noon the readings started hitting new lows.
Were we disturbing and distracting him with all our expressions of concern?
Around 5.30 in the evening I saw something gurgling in his mouth. He opened his eyes wide for the first time that day and stared up the ceiling one last time with tremendous effort. The numbers kept on descending. And then the next moment… the meter had nothing to say except some meaningful/less dots… We knew it was all over.
The days and nights he spent in constant fear of the looming death came to an end. An entity that moved, thought, loved, hated, desired, planned, rejoiced, won, defeated, failed, created, ate, drank, fought for about eight decades finally gave up.
Did he have the courage to go alone?
The body was still warm and quivering with the last vestige of life left. And for the first time I saw an unusual serenity and stillness spread and then linger on his face. He was relieved of all strain and anxieties. Peace!
* * *
Even these thousands of miles in between me and his abode is not thick enough to prevent the agonizing memories from seeping in.
* * *
Life thrilled him as much as it failed and hurt him. The thrill came from his talents and the disappointment, from his expectations about life and people. He was never short of solutions, ideas, plans, preparations, stories. Nothing irritated him more than lack of punctuality and perfection. Was he punctual? Yes, to the core. Was he perfect? According to his unique parameters, yes.
I don’t intend to go for sentimental eulogies right now. I owe my life to my parents and I am grateful to my father for what I have inherited and learned from him. [Link]
He had been much more than an average human being and the impressions he left will pose real hard work for time to erase. I am not underestimating the powers of time. It’s just a month – obviously too early to forget a dear and near one.
[Link] And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.