The sky was fusion of gray and blue, pregnant with unfallen rain. I walked that silent evening lost in thought. I was thinking about Dad. He had died young at 47. An Indian army officer, he had fought wars, but sadly lost his battle to cancer. It wasn’t easy to lose him. It meant not having that one person who challenged you to think, to grow, to dream, and to pursue your passion without losing enthusiasm. It also meant that the man who cooked for us and made every meal a celebration wasn’t going to be around anymore. It meant that I would have to learn to find him in the deep recesses of my memories because time has a strange way of blurring things.
I called him Papa, and I know now that I wasn’t an easy child. I argued for my limitations, I rebelled often, I had strong opinions and I questioned norms. I needed my space even as a child, I was an old soul, and I was free spirited. We often fought, Dad and I… but then we would talk and he would listen without prejudice, and he never made me feel small even as little as a six year old questioning his authority or discussing world news. He sometimes struggled with my independence, my choice of music and love for Rod Stewart,
Dad gave us our love and appreciation for the finer things in life: waltz, music, gazals, sufi poetry, literature, art, astronomy and food. He believed that life was meant to be lived with elegance and enjoyment.
And in his fight against cancer, he taught us about dignity in pain, faith, and the ability to find courage in life’s toughest hours. He made every medical decision for himself and when he knew that the end was near, we talked about how he would have liked to live more but also about quiet acceptance of what was inevitable. He asked me to perform his last rites. And when he passed, we knew that honoring his life was more important than the grief and pain of losing him.
So many years later, I wonder what he would have thought of the world today, what would he have thought of my life journey…
In this edition of WOW we talk about the bond between fathers and daughters from the dad’s perspective. I would especially encourage you to read what Dr Madhu Ghimire has to share. These lines of his resonate on multiple levels: ‘Seek happiness and be happy but do not enforce happiness unto yourself when life events have pulled you down. That would be more detrimental to your life. Learn to accept unhappy moments with equanimity. Most human lives have been a mixture of happiness and sadness; not always in equal measure…”