Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In Retrospect

Two deaths. A wedding.
An old address. A new home.

New routes. Old tales.
Pockmarks of jealousy; unease.

Illness, wellness.
Hopelessness. Happiness
and I-miss-you-so days.

Life paused today to say,
I am glad I was there with you every step of the way.


Monday, October 01, 2007

My father and I

were the best of friends till I turned 11 when he got his first outstation posting. Then, in the flurry of changing addresses and rise on the corporate ladder, the next 10 years passed off in a blur. Baba became more of a figurehead who visited from time to time, bearing with him gifts and happiness and transience. When we woke up the next day, still dreaming of the laughter, he was off in the pursuit of his next big promotion.

I think it was only about a couple of years later that I stopped expecting him to be around. Baba tried in whatever way he could to be connected, but for me it wasn't enough. My life shifted focus to Ma and my grandparents and that was how things were for a long time.

But then came the turnaround. An untimely death in the family, Thamma's fatal illness and Baba decided to give it all up and come back home. It was a tough choice for a workaholic like him, and not too many things were going in his favour. But with characteristic resilience Baba hung on. And came back. Almost around the same time when I was ready to step out of home.

The first time I realised the grey in his temples was when I went back home on a visit at the end of my second year out. As the escalator moved down towards the arrival lounge, I spotted them, my parents, standing in a corner, scanning faces anxiously to catch a glimpse of me. And I realised with a start that they were aging. Ma looked way too thin. And Baba, smiling, booming, jovial Baba was just a tad quieter. Just a wee bit more worn out. I wanted to tell him to relax, that I would take care of them, but I didn't. I didn't know how to. All I said was, "Don't worry." He smiled.

Over the subsequent years a lot of things have changed. People, plans, fortunes, hope and health. But I always thought my parents were infallible. That age won't catch up with them. It has. This weekend Baba was diagnosed with a form of retinal degeneration that slowly robs one of their vision. It's an age-related degeneration, but it's irreversible.

Baba was low the day he told me about it. But he was back to his old cheerful self the next morning. "I'll manage. It's not the end of the world, and there are other doctors I can check with. Maybe something will come up," he said. And I looked at Baba once more with the eyes of the child who stayed up nights, because Baba had promised he would call her whatever time he got back from work and Baba always kept his word.

I have been thinking a lot ever since, of those childhood days. Days when Baba was always there for me after a battle lost or a plan gone wrong. Of times when I failed and Baba accepted my failure without a question. Of the times he stood up for me when everybody else refused to. And I have been ruing my short-sightedness. And the years I wasted being hurt.

This one is for you Baba. For teaching me about life, love and courage. And for being the best kind of friend. Always.