Though we had a satisfying father-daughter relationship, I never really acknowledged it during my younger years as much as I do after his death.
Dad to me was a person living in the same home, who obliged to all my demands and was my companion in all seasons. He listened to me whenever I wanted him to.
In Short I abused my dad’s love towards me making him a friend only when I needed. Rest times, I made him a mere spectator giving priorities to all the other charm in the world.
For eg, I hated when he walked me to school. My school was so called walkable distance and dad often carried my bag and food stuff.
My school was one of those schools in the then Madras where the so called rich studied. I had friends and classmates, whose dad’s were in Banks and were doctors or the least businessmen.
The least was they came by scooters and I walked.
I was not ashamed of walking, I was terrified at the thought of walking with Dad. He wore basic slippers from Paragon, and often came in his dhoti. It freaked me and I wanted to hide the fact to my friends that he was my dad.
I used to walk at least 5 steps away from him, while leaving the bags for him to carry.
Once I started crying halfway and said, pls don’t come with me, How can I explain you to my friends. Dad simply smiled and said, tell them I am your Servant (Some rich kids came that way to school). I wiped my tears and shamelessly and proudly agreed.
In simple I never knew how my school fees was funded, I dint want to know who paid for my books and clothes to give me a decent education. All I wanted to do is disown my humble Father.
This realization did not come as early as it should but as late as it can when I scanned through his Pension Papers after his death. God, what on earth and how on earth he provided us with such a dignified upbringing with such a meagre salary. I was reduced to nothing with guilt. I covered my face in shame, cause I have never bought even a pair of shoes for Dad. He has never asked me for anything. I felt ashamed beyond what I could explain.
I never really realised those weary hands are the reason I exist. He provided for our family. The hardworking honest man with humble beginnings. Who put aside his interests and made ours the top of his list. Who never bought any clothes for himself, or as mom describes, never even took an autorickshaw in his life. Either took the public transport that had minimum charge or put his faith in his never complaining legs. He wore the same slippers for ages. And when they were worn out, He stitched them.
Dad had never really eaten from a Hotel. He thinks a million times before spending a penny. Asir anna and me hated him for that. Never took us in an auto, never bought us Barotta and kuruma. He had an explanation for everything.
For eg, after one of our Beach outings, we staged a protest that we want to go home in Auto. Dad explained, auto is so small, you will not be able to see the high decorated buildings if you travel in that. The buses are big and window seats meant we could have a full view of the bustling streets of Madras. He was talking sense. We agreed reluctantly. He made sure he got us Window Seat.
Long story short, my wedding never made much difference in his approach towards life. He still greeted Reji and me in the Railway Station and took us by Bus to home.
As I moved out of the comfort of my home and started to know people especially girls from all walks of life is when I understood, my Dad was an Extraordinary Human Being.
Reality came into existence and I realized it’s not money or glamorous houses that made good fathers. Especially for a Girl Child.
A Rare breed. A matchless creation of God. His love for me was beyond any human sense and I wanted to shout out to him “I love you appa”.
Shame I never Did. He always did. Over Phone and though letters. But I never did.
Even during our last meeting before his death, dad used to feed me. He used to wash all my clothes, literally.
Dad’s Honesty, his forgiving spirit, his calm attitude, his angelic face and smile, often made me wonder if I was really part of his blood.
I always promised to myself, that during my next meeting, I will definitely kiss dad on his forehead. I wanted to express how I after 30yrs acknowledged his Presence in my life. And without him in my life I would Have just been a mere lesser being.
And that’s when I kissed him….
That day, the 10th of June 2014, in the Living room of our Modest house in Chennai, I Kissed him.
I kissed his chilled body, fresh from the Freezer in the Ambulance. In human terms, my then father, now a mere body, was already close to 3 days old. The man of our lives lay there cold and lifeless. I felt mercilessly slapped by fate and stood there in denial as tears flooded my eyes. His chilled face was beyond what I could bear. I gently held my dad’s face close to mine and Kissed him for once and for all.
I hopelessly cried into his ears, tell me dad what wrong I did, I will not do it again.
I begged him to bid me a final goodbye.
I helplessly pleaded him to bless the little unformed tiny body growing inside me.
After all He was longing to see his precious daughter this way for 5 years. I shouted at him, if at all God has been gracious to me and blessed me is it not because of this poor man’s teary prayers.
He seemed to be obvious of my tears. So calm So angelic so much at peace. And I knew he has already rested in peace and been welcomed in Heaven. Now all that was left with my brother and me was to give the old fellow a fitting earthly farewell.
With shock waves on our faces and grief stricken minds and trust in Jesus Christ we put our faith into practice and laid our Dad to rest, on that warm afternoon, right next to his beloved Father.
I wish I get that same honour to be buried next to my precious father who loved us beyond anything the word love meant.
PS: Our Dad never smoked, never took a peg, never ate non-vegetarian food as far as I can trace back my memory. Some ask, what’s the use if you don’t enjoy these pleasures. But Today my brother and I stand here cherishing his spotless legacy that he has left behind. A dad like this is a boon and his Children and generation are Blessed beyond a doubt.