Yesterday suddenly I was in a mood to write a narrative. Not everyday you get so consumed by the desire to try to write something so different from what you have been doing. In between writing the piece, I wanted to quietly slip into a dark theatre for celluloid magic. I did the same, watched Teri Meri Kahaani and came back to my desk to finish the piece. Like a possessed woman, I furiously typed for almost two hours. There was nobody around me. And in that complete silence, writing was like meditation. You are in sync with your inner self. Nothing can be more soul-elevating than this.
As I finished my writing, I looked at my watch and realised that it was 9.45pm. Not in a mood to cook, I thought of walking to the Mcdonald’s across the road. It’s hardly a 3 minutes walk. Dusty Ahmedabad’s street under neon light definitely looked alluring for a change. As I moved towards the glass door, I looked up and saw the bright yellow colour board— Mcdonald’s: A family restaurant. I entered into the brightly lit place which was full of people and people. There were kids, mothers, fathers, coy young lovers trying to find a place for themselves in this mad crowded cruel world. Old parents, young parents. All wanting to have a slice of the great American spread. I gave my orders at the counter and the man at the counter requested me to have a seat as the take-away would take few minutes.
I sat down alone trying to read the huge display of menu on the board in front of me. Suddenly,I heard somebody saying ‘Baba’ aloud. I felt as if somebody cut through my heart with a sharp knife. I felt an aching pain deep within me. I could have collapsed at that particular moment. I turned around instantly to see somebody in flesh and blood whom a daughter lovingly calls ‘baba’. There was a Bengali family sitting behind my table happily savoring their fast food fare. I knew from where the word ‘Baba’ laced with love and affection came.
The waiter came to give my takeaway, I picked it up and walked out of the fast food joint. In a matter of few minutes, everything had changed. The bright streets looked completely dark to me. I had completely lost my appetite for the burger and french fries I was carrying in a paper bag.My hunger had completely disappeared. I had this intense desire to just hug my dad at that moment and call him ‘baba’. I wanted to feel his nice strong shapely hands and fingers in my palm. I wanted to hold his hand and cross the road as I did even as an adult. I could have run across the horizon to soak in that feeling of holding him in my arms. But alas, now my father is beyond the horizon too. It’s like that song from Dier Straits ‘So far away from me that I can’t just see you.’ I so very wanted to die last night. So that I would not feel this gut-wrenching pain never again in my life.
PS: It has been 18 months since I lost my father. Years ago I flew out of my father’s nest to chase my own. Unlike my sisters, I didn’t see my father every single day.Or shared meals with him at the dining table every night. For all my adult life, out of 365 days I used to be with him for 15 days. Not being with him physically everyday before has also done strange things to me. So even now, there are times I feel he’s somewhere there in faraway Bhubaneswar. Still living in the house next to the park.
After the death of my father, I did a lot of reading to understand why I was feeling what I was feeling. I started seeking comfort in that beautiful line of Isabel Allende, “There’s no death, my daughter. People die only when you forget them.” I remember my father every single day. How can I ever forget the man who gave me life, education and a deep sense of belonging? But when the desire to hug him, write to him or hear his voice over the phone overpowers me and I realise I can never do the same. I come back to this bitter truth that yes, there’s something called death. No matter what they tell you, DEATH IS SO FINAL.