Friday, April 13

For my father

It has taken me almost a month to write this. And I still dont think it captures all that I feel and want to say to the man who meant everything to me.

I lost him on 6th March'07.

When I wrote this several images flashed by.

Of a 40 year old father who peeped into my nursery school with a brown paper bag that was to be my tiffin.

Of my father who gave me some hurried points on why proliferation of arms wasnt a great idea for the school debate. and also who told me that Salt Satyagrah happened across the nation and not only in Gujarat.

Of a man who choked when he told his sister that I had started writing for newspapers.

Who made me afternoon tea when I prepared for various exams.

Of a man who withdrew from the room when I announced being a bureaucrat was too much of hard work and I wasnt game for it.

Of a father who asked whats HR all about?

Of the decaying father who urged me to get Goldflake lights if I dont find Wills Navy Cut on his maiden trip to Bombay 6 months back.

Who held me before going to the hospital and said "looks like its the end".

If you count backwards hard,
maybe you can hold your breath.
May be if you spelt with your eyes shut
And take your mind off that goddamn pain
your kidneys will work
If you persist your blood pressure will come
Outside the ICU sits a woman,
Her heart breaking into two parts
Waiting to be told: “You can now take him home”
Images of all the gods flash past her eyes
And all the chants she forgot only for a second
Find their way through her muted, scared lips
May be, if you try hard enough tonight
You can live

What is the smell of death?
Disposable syringe smelling
of freshly drawn dosages ?
Acidic smelling ICU away
from loved ones ?
or the hurriedly dissolving incense
In a 100 sq ft enclosure
where you lay shrouded
in white muslin

What is its touch?
Biting mosquitoes
outside a dimly lit ICU
or pricking syringes
through shriveled veins
or a hurried touch
To hands that tiptoed in

How does it taste?
like the last half eaten chapatti
or the sweet holy water
dripping all over the muslin
or just a strange chocolate
Just like Life.

What is a dying man’s thought?
A praying woman
sacred chants eluding her
or a daughter
who refused to believe
take it at face value
or a daughter,
who peered through a slit
to watch life’s last spectacle
or the son
forced to be father
Always without a buy-in
did you carelessly shrug
To all who mattered ?

In a dark night
You lay there, indifferent
As we sat in turns
when finality struck us
Unawares, Unprepared
A cold night
That taught us
Life’s hardest lesson
Of living
Without a part of us.

They say time,
Give it time
All will heal.
I wonder how
Who will I say
Those thousands
Unsaid things to ?
Who will I read
The editorial
of TOI to ?
Who will I
Think of
When I cook red meat
And how will I smile
when I see
Someone smoking
How will you know
Last time I got angry
It was not for real.
And that
Every time I said
Bye, I meant to talk more.