Almost five whole years have passed since then. I wonder how time flies by. I vividly remember that day, the day when I first saw the face of death, the day I understood how you feel when you continue to live even after having lost a piece of you. That day, my father passed away.
An adamant, rebellious and stubborn girl who was in love with the idea of love and wouldn’t have a care about what was going on!
A brother two years younger to her, whose birthday was two days after his father’s death and who struggled with the idea of how he would celebrate his big day without his father by his side.
A mother, a loving and overly dependent homemaker and a wife who would now have to support a family of two young teenagers and their education!
This was all that was left behind when he passed away. All this, and an environment bejeweled by people masquerading as concerned and sympathetic ‘relatives’ fighting over property, money, car or whichever memory, or better to say, commodity, that was up for grabs. It was December, probably the coldest day, the coldest in my life for sure. We were all waiting for him to return home soon to eat dinner, the one meal we had together, as a family.
He had made the dinner fastidiously, with his own hands, and had childishly warned us not to start until he comes back. The next thing I remember was a knock on the door and him falling on the threshold of the home. I remember my mom asking me to grab him a glass of water while he was busy repeating the same statement, that nothing had happened to him. He was constantly vomiting.
I remember how I was shouting and screaming over the phone at an ambulance driver, who was unable to comprehend the written address and hence unable to reach on time to help. I remember how helpless I was, how I could do nothing but wait and plead people to help me taking him to the hospital, which by the way wasn’t even 2 kilometers away. I remember how I took on the responsibility of filling up numerous forms in the hospital with trembling hands and palpitating heartbeats. I remember how impatient we were while sitting outside of the ICU and optimistically reassuring ourselves by thinking how quickly he would recover and all of us would be back home. I remember what my mom was wearing, how quiet my brother was and the questions the doctors were asking me about my dad’s medical history. I remember the doctor’s chamber, when they called us inside to let us know his chances of survival and how they are incapable of doing anything as they weren’t aware of the procedures or medicines to give to a patient who was suffering from a heart stroke and is diabetic. I remember how I looked through that small window, curious as to what those strangers were doing to my father in the ICU. I remember how hopeful my mom was, as she thoroughly planned what all to say to him and what not to give him to eat during his recovery.
However, that day never arrived. Sometime later, I remember people leaving the ICU with tears in their eyes, unable to meet my mom’s eyes and answer her infinite questions about dad. They just took us to my childhood house, back to a mother who had no clue that her son died minutes ago.
All this, but dad’s death still didn’t get to me.
I remember how pale my mom got, how she wouldn’t cry. I never really saw her like this before. She was cheerful all the time but now I saw her pink skin turned pale, and tears drying up on her cheeks.
My brother was clueless about whatever was going on and was timidly sitting beside my mom. I remember the next morning too. How I saw an ambulance pulling up outside my house, a stretcher being taken out.
The motionless and silent house of grievers had stirred up with noise and movement. I remember how my dad’s body was wrapped in a white sheet. A man who never wore dull, unbranded clothes was just wrapped in a white sheet.
My dad’s death hit me hard when I saw them taking him away, along with my brother who was to perform the numerous rituals and last rites. That moment I cried, shouted, screamed and shrieked at top of my lungs. I was terrified by the fact that I would never see him again, terrified by the idea of how I would be left alone to take all the important life decisions, how I would have no one to advise me on colleges or cities, how people would call me an orphan, how I won’t have my father bossing around my boyfriend and giving him strict instructions to treat me like a princess and take care of me, terrified by the fact that he won’t be present in my wedding to give me away.
That was the only time I cried so much. Those tears turned into late-night weeping and soon into bad memories and nightmares.
Time changes people. Death changes people too.
We learned how to cope with changing times. It’s amazing how once a terrified, over possessive and protective mom turned into a woman who had the determination and strength to send her only family away from her for higher studies so that she could ensure a prosperous future for them. Amazing, how a timid boy turned into a mature, protective man overnight to take care of his mother and sister. Amazing, how I changed into a person who learned to appreciate the little things which other people get easily, a person who thinks thrice before spending money on clothes and food. I have now changed into a person who would do anything to provide a better future for her mother and brother, the only family she is left with in this whole wide world. It’s amazing how time and death forces us to change into a better, but a new person.
~Tanvi Mehta | Edited by Nandini
Image source: flickr.com