There are a few things I remember about him. But with each passing year, my memories of him dwindle and I forget that they were ever there. My first long-distance-relationship. My father.
I am told that, as a little girl, I once proclaimed that I wanted to marry a person who would be just like him. A very special person, full of kindness, joy and warmth, he was always my hero when I was growing up.
He was a fairly strict, disciplined in many ways but totally lacked it in other ways. He would make uswake up early even during our summer holidays and go out for a jog or to the park. On most days he would accompany us. But he would come back from that exercise and take a long siesta in the afternoon, this made my mother very angry. She said that there was no point to his morning walk if he slept right after a heavy lunch!
My father made me learn the multiplication table upto 15 x 15, front to back, back to front, just when I was 6 years old. He was of the opinion that intelligent children ought to be strong in mathematics. He was a chartered accountant himself. Unfortunately he din’t do his own personal money maths too well, so he was in a lot of debt. This part about him being bad about his own money is my mother’s opinion. I think that he cared about us so much and loved us so much, that he wanted to leav no stone unturned in giving us a good education. Even if it was difficult for him to pay the school fee each month, or send us to hobby classes such as dancing and tennis, he made sure we never gave it up. He had a passion for life and his motto, of live and let live was something he followed to the T. He lived large and was always kind to everyone. His zest for life is evident in all the things that inspired him and tat he shared with me. In class six, he sent me letter on a yellow page. and attached the letter was the poem that still remains among my most cherished ones. It was called Don’t Quit.
When he came back home from work, I could hear the jingle of his keys one the second floor, even as he entered the building on the ground floor. To me it was the most joyous sound, of my father returning home. My favourite person in the world returning home to spend the rest of the evening with me!
It was quite a shock to me when I stopped hearing it. At that time I think I dealt with it pretty well. Looking back, I think I looked upon it almost as a fancy event. That my father had gone to another land to save us all from hunger and despair was a superhero fantasy. I believed we would go and join him again and be like the family we were, once again.
I just realized that I have even been writing of him in the past tense!
I am not sure when I realized that it was going to happen that way. Some time after my father left, it was my mother, my brother and I.
We learnt to make all decisions independently without having to consult my father, or even eachother sometimes. If my mother din’t feel like cooking, she would independently decide that we were eating out. It was just the 3 of us for so long and for the greater part of my memory. (It has almost entirely been just the 3 of us in my brother’s memory. I wonder how he feels about this all.) This is why a lot of things I know instinctively are for 3 people. I know the measurements of rice, dal, vegetables that need to be cooked for 3 people. I know the cost of living for 3 people. I know water quantities used and number of luggage bags and life lived by 3 people.
I have forgotten what it is like to have appa around, often forgetting him altogether. I think of him a bit later than one would think of their father, when I want to share a good or bad news. I have few things to say to him and now, as I have grown up, all the fights that come from generation gaps have manifested themselves. This has made communication even more strained and difficult, for two people who already spoke less. Two people who are so intensely bound together by blood and truth and love, but have forgotten to love.
But perhaps its only me who has forgotten to love. I wonder how he feels about this. I know that he thought about us all the time in the beginning. But I am wondering about now. I wonder if he is moved by love or if he thinks of us forlornly in an alien manner.
I suppose he wants only the best for us and wants us to be happy. as I do wish for him.
But this is only in the times that I think of him. I am sorry and I sad about this, but it its true that these times are few.
My father was my first long-distance relationship.
and it has taught me things about myself, it has determined how I interact with people, my desire for intense privacy, my desire to trust few, my desire to seek for people and then run away on finding a hand to clasp. Perhaps it will change one day, but for now, I know that it certainly has moulded how I feel about relationships, and deal with people who I am distanced from.
Out of sight, out of mind. Not necessarily “out of mind”, but certainly cast aside. With friends and relatives, I pick up from where we left off and am absolutely fine with it.
But perhaps there are relations that are not meant to be cast aside. This is where it begins to hurt and I fear to let another person close to me, believing he would leave to go far away.
Leave a gaping hole.
An empty seat in a table meant for four.