It has been 13 days since it all fell apart. 13 days since I remember taking a cold water shower in Delhi winter, water pricking my skin and sealing the emotions in a way. Making my heart and body harden for what I had to bear in the coming week. As I let the cold water sit on my skin and wore the crisp white mens kurta pajama to bid dad goodbye to finally let his body go, I realised that I was shaking and not just from the cold. The thought that I had to actually light fire to the pyre, that I have to actually burn my dad was un-nerving. I wanted to lock myself in the bathroom forever and never come out of it. To tell everyone that I cannot do this, that my dad is here and he is not gone but then I recalled how I had told my mum “No one is touching my dad, I am the one who will bid him goodbye”.
I braced myself and stepped out and did everything I was told in an autopilot mode. I frankly don’t think I remember anything. I don’t remember how I reached the cremation ground or what happened there, the only clear memory I have is of having a stick with fire in my hand and the priest telling me “aag lago”. In that moment, all I wanted to do was sit and throw that wood away and hug dad, to bring him back home. In that moment, I realised how lonely one is, in grief. I had 200 people around me, atleast 50 of them who cared about me immensely and would have done anything to comfort me. But I stood alone not knowing what to do and how to deal with the intense grief, with sadness which felt like physical pain. I stood alone in a moment that belonged to me, dad & grief connected by that fire. A moment where no one standing in the crematorium mattered, all that mattered is that it was my dad burning in that fire. That I would never see him again, he would never hug me again. I would never fight with him again.
My dad was a self made man who was very proud of his daughters, sometimes a little too proud may be but I think we can discount that to a father’s love. For me feelings towards him varied from “OMG how can this man be my father” to “OMG, I am so much like him that it is scary”. We shared a very funny and warm relationship, we would fight like crazy and then defend each other fiercely to others. My mum used to tease us that we behave less like father & daughter and more like sister and brother. There were moments that I found difficult to stand him and there were moments that all I wanted was him around. Infact I never realised how much he mattered to me till he went away. Listen to me folks, go hug your parents right now and give them an extra hug from me because I am yearning to hug mine and I can’t. What if he never hugged back and was shy and would shrug when given a hug. I hugged him one last time when I went to pick his ashes next day.
I have always said that Hindi rituals are not respecting of the deceased, that we never treat the person gone as we should but that morning was in a way my closure. My final goodbye to his physical being. I recall picking bones (what we call “phool” with respect) from the simmering ashes wondering what each piece was. As I touched and figured that the piece I picked up was a bone or wood, I found immense peace. It felt that I am finally letting him go. That I know he will be happy and peaceful where ever he is and that I will have him around me always. The exercise of picking bones felt so personal and calming that I really didn’t want to stop even when people around us kept say stop, there isn’t any need to pick up the tiny ones. I wanted to pick every small bit, every small bit that belonged to him. Every small bit that was ours and then let it go, let him go.
Dad, as I drink the glass of milk you always fed us. As I wear your ring in my finger I want to say I miss you. More than I imagined, more than you will ever know. Be happy dad, be in peace something that you kept searching for in the last few years of your life. And try not to make God’s life too tough with your tantrums and whims, he isn’t as patient as mum
PS: I have been wanting to write this since the day he passed away. Every night on my phone, I open notes scribble something, delete, scribble and rinse repeat, I don’t know how much of what I wrote today makes sense, I know there is much more to write but I had to start somewhere and here it is
Dipanjan Dasgupta says
I know the pain Madam .. I’ve also lost my parents in Six months gap .. when all left to return back to their home and myself sitting in a room alone .. forgot to switch on the light even as outside become dark .. all the next 10 days everytime I return back home and recall those old days … With my parents .. and try to strengthen myself with those old memories. Losing parents is losing very own cozy personal place .. losing roof from our life Dipanjan
Thanks Dipanjan. Strength and wishes to you as well
Hugs Mon.. though I haven’t lost a parent, I have lost enough people to know how painful it is bidding them goodbye… hugs and strength to all of you and mom.. Cherish and relive the memories
Thanks for the hugs & wishes Aarti.
It makes a lot of sense Mon. Loved every emotion that came out.
Hugs and prayers
it only came to me now that you are the eldest of uncle’s children and you lit the pyre. I don’t know how you did it. the supreme power gives us strength to do what we got to do, i guess. what you wrote is beaufitul Monika.. I lived through your pain while reading this.. may no child ever have to do this.. may no parent ever have to do this either, is my wish but then we know life has its own rules. and we have no choice but to just accept. big hugs to you and your family. I can feel that uncle is in peace and smiling for you are a great daughter. He is proud of you and so am I. love you.
Thank you Tara. We can wish all that we want but eventually life has it’s own ways :\
This must have taken immense courage to write and I think that’s what moments like these do to us. They help us realise how much we are capable of, and how strong we can be when we need to. Sending you lots of love, peace and strength Mon, though you are stronger already. Big hug!
Thanks Richa, yes I am not even sure where I got that strength for. I guess like you say moments like these somehow help us gather it all
I really have no words, just that I was taking deep breaths as I was reading and my heart was pounding.
Prayers for strength to your family and my deepest condolences.
Thank you Aathira
Monica Joseph says
My heartfelt sympathies to you Monika. May God give you the strength and peace during this period.
It takes a really brave person to do what you did, Mon! Really, really sorry that your father isn’t here with you any more. I am sure you will hear his voice in your head – that is how the ones we really resonate with make their mark on the world, through each and every one of us. And our kids. Hugs!
Yup, that voice in the head is all one is left with I guess
I am sure your dad will be very proud of this post and that you had the courage to write this here. I so much agree about the feeling that you felt that you are alone even though there were people there who would do anything for you there at that time. One of this things i really love about you is Monika your openess about your feelings, good, bad you share it. Lots of love to you. I so much admire you.
Thank you so much Finla. I feel sharing and talking about it makes me feel at peace.
S Roy says
Normally Contrary says
Monika, my heartfelt sympathies to you. May God and your father bless you with strength and peace. Take care.
Thanks a lot
Deepa Subbaraman Sriram says
So touching, I feel a heaviness in my chest and a lump in my throat. He sounds like a wonderful man to have such a brave and courageous daughter. I don’t know what to say, except that you are allowed to grieve anyway you can. Friends are here should you need a chat. I’ll ask you to pen down any of his favourite dish for us to make in his memory.
Thanks Deepa. I thought of that as well. I think these are the things one finds comfort in
Hugs, Monika, truly touching! I am sure he is very proud of you!
Thanks Sharon 🙂
I don’t know you personally but I couldn’t stop tearing up. I faced my deepest fear as I read the thoughts you shared. Parents are truly irreplacable..a tight hug to you. .God bless! !
Ipsita Banerjee says
Hugs. Sometimes there are no words.
dr sai daayana says
Please take care…time is supposed to heal..what you wrote makes perfect sense and is v touching..big hugs and next time I meet my parents…will give them an extra hug from you..:) please do take care..
Deepest condolences to you Monika. Hope you get the courage and divine blessings at this time of the hour. Its going to be two decades since I lost my father, yet I feel his presence all the time. Prayers to you and your family. God Bless!
Thanks R. They tell me it only fades, the scars never go
Hugs and prayers to deal with your irreplaceable loss, dear Monika. Please accept my condolences.
Mon, I just started following you and don’t know how I stumbled on this post. I lost my dad 12 years back and here I am sitting here with tears rolling down while reading this. It took me the longest time to verbally talk about it without breaking down. All I can say is that it becomes easier to deal because you learn to remember the happy memories most of the times. Hugs to you and hoping you find peace as you go forward!!!