It will be a year tomorrow. A year since the day I flew down to Dehradoon to see my father who had been admitted in the ICU all too suddenly. A year since that sleepless night when I struggled with my worst fears, telling myself they were not premonitions and they were just that – fears. It will be a year since I stood by his bedside shortly after my flight landed at Jolly Grant airport, Dehradun. He was asleep but as if sensing me presence by his side, he opened his eyes to catch me weeping silently and I saw a loving, incandescent smile stretch across his handsome face. “Don’t be upset, I am fine. All is well,” he told me calmly although his voice sounded weak, betraying his outer composure. “I am just happy that you are here,” he said smiling a really happy smile that lit up the ICU, then the hospital, then the entire city and finally my whole universe.
It will be a year since I thanked god almighty that my father had survived that critical night of May 1st when I had been told over the phone that the doctors feared we could lose him. The worst was behind us. There was so much to be grateful for.
It will be a year since I forced my way into the ICU, time and again on that day, only to watch him breathe and sleep peacefully. It will also be a year since I stood there thinking about just how much I adored him. A year since I heard the nurses in the hospital praise him for his patience. “He must have been a General in the army, we can tell from his personality,” said one. “He is so kind and so patient, does not complain at all,” nodded the other. A year since I stood there feeling awfully proud that he was my father.
It will be a year since the day we all prayed fervently under our breath for him to recover quickly and come back home. Our prayers were heard and the doctor informed us the same evening that my father’s condition was indeed improving and he would be moved to a normal room to recuperate the very next morning.
Life however, had other plans for him. He moved on a few days and many desperate prayers later. Last year, this time, I waited it to be next year quickly. I waited for the pain and the emptiness to pass. I wanted to fast forward my grieving and my mother’s and sister’s along with it. But a year later, it all feels the same.
Over the past year, I traveled to different places but there was one thing common in all these trips. My father was not around to hear about them.
In this past year, I read many books and saw some movies but there was one thing common in all of them. They all ended. And I had to snap back to a reality in which my father was not around for me to exchange notes with.
During this one year, I have tried to understand the morass that is loss. I have tried to get used to the pain and I have dreamt of eternity. But every now and then, I unlearn all that I have learnt of them. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” my father would say, quoting his favourite philosopher, the Buddha. I have tried to reflect on those words over the past year, when my intense sense of loss deluges all my other senses.
Ever so often, I lift the carefully placed flap to consider the wound beneath, to see if it has healed. Maybe I am looking at it too often, I need to give time for the scar tissue to form. The next time I look at it after a longer interval. I am surprised to find that it is still as raw as it was the last time I looked. I will not look at it for three months now. Oh it has been eight days, let me just have a quick peek. No, I am not weak-willed, it is only just a glance to see if it has healed. I am disappointed. It still hurts. No, I cannot even see a scab forming over it. How long do I need to wait? Will this ever heal? Or will it stay there, just as it is, to remind me of what there was in its place in happier times?
I suspect this void will not fill. It will stay as is. A void set in stone. Stones don’t grow back do they? Truth be told, this void is too special and maybe I don’t even want it to fill.