On the occasion of Father’s Day. I see people posting the photos of their fathers. ‘ Dad I love you’, ‘ Dad I miss you’. It has been easy to remember people these days and show your appreciation through Facebook and other social media. But, one school of thought seriously poses the question – Do we really care our parents as we should or do we do it for the sake of formality?
There may be debates regarding this question but one thing is certain. Traditionally, people whose parents pass away, are remembered during the day of ‘ Shrad’, a ritual that allows people to reflect upon the ones who have left. These days, people do not have much time for such pedantic rites. This is specially obvious to those who have moved abroad. The fast pace of life leaves less time to reflect.
Despite all odds, the Facebook provides us the opportunity to think of our parents who are not with us anymore and also to be aware of how much they mean to us. So, even for a day, this ritual of paying tribute is phenomenal. As the saying goes, ‘We can buy everything in this world but we can’t buy father and mother.’ Thus, even though the Facebook is crowded with messages about ‘The Father’s Day’. It is good to follow the crowd for a good cause.
I lost my father at the age of twelve but have an authentic memory of his face to last for a lifetime. From the 12 years old boy until now, many things have changed in my life but the longing for my father hasn’t. In fact, as you grow older, the memory of your childhood becomes stronger. There are scattered memories which I can recollect. At one point, I visualize his old Phoenix bicycle, deliberately polished , with a light in front which used to run with a dynamo fitted at the rear tyre. He cycled to work early morning, carrying me and my brother, on the front seat and on a carrier fitted at the back. Those days, the roads were dusty and often we felt the bump on our backs as the cycle glided. Memories have their own way of playing with the past. No sooner you remember something, it is hard to trace the chronology of facts, in a linear way and you are presented with another picture, another incident.
The other event I fondly remember was when he used to come to pick me up for a winter vacation back in the hills of Darjeeling. I was in St.Josephs, a boarding school run by Roman Catholic fathers on the northern belt of India. Our school literally nestled on the lap of the Himalayas. We could see Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchan Junga from our classroom. The snow peaks changed their colors according to the temperament of the day. On such occasion, the children looked towards the tower gate of Northpoint from the playground. The dads and mums, that the children have missed for months arrived one after the other, with big smiles on their faces. We watched and waited for our parents at the playground, near the theatre. Sometimes, the wait would lengthen for hours and hours before they actually arrived. My father had a side bag, brown in color which he often carried on long journeys. Going out of the school compound after many months was one of the happiest things I remember as a child. The parents gave us treat with Glenary’s ice cream and Dekevas’s chowmin. The same day we would head home via Siliguri to spend another three months at home.
Those days, there were fewer buses, unlike the ones that we have today. Das, Rajdoot, and Kankai buses were popular during those days. As soon as we crossed the Mechi bridge at Kakarbhitta, the smell of the winter field as we entered Nepal reconnected me with the soil, my motherland. kakarbhitta was a small town then, with a few shops and lodges. We boarded in one f the night buses bound for Kathmandu. There was no greater happiness then to go home after nine months in a boarding school. I could not sleep all night as I watched the moon from the window.
It’s been more than two decades……….. the day I lost my father.
This poem describes what a father means to a son esp after the truth that he will never he here again:
I cannot forget the day you decided
the morning wasn’t worth waking up to anymore.
At the Cancer ward, Bharatpur hospital
Vials of medicines that failed you sat next to your bed.
The tubes were gliding out of your mouth like tentacles.
Whenever the white curtain at the door ballooned
The wind brought in the smell of dettol-washed floors.
I was convinced you were asleep.
Outside, that February day went long.
The smell of wet earth after a light winter rain.
The green lawn splendid in the sun and in the middle
Your body swaddled in white.
Your face shrivelled, somehow bluer than the sky that day.
There was a faint smile frozen on its way to your eyes.
That morning was the last time you held me.
I’ve forgotten what you were telling me then.
Twenty-five years have passed since that day;
sometimes when I am alone
I turn within myself for an answer, like you.
When all the noise settles down
I feel the weight of your hands
heavy on my shoulder.