Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remembering My Father

For the last few years, I have been particularly depressed for a few weeks between mid September and October. Four years, actually. Four years ago, my dad died on 15th September, just a week before my birthday, on the morning of the day I was to return to Delhi in the evening, for my impending exams. I had said goodbye, had told him, in one of his few lucid moments then, that I was going back. He promised not to die while I was away.

He didn’t. He died that morning instead, while I was still at home. Did he just give up, that day, tired of fighting, aware that his family was around him? Or was he finally defeated?

I hadn't been able to celebrate my birthday since, without remembering him… My birthday had ceased to be something to celebrate.

It affected me powerfully for over a year, his death. I found it difficult to come to terms with, even though it had been expected, was almost a relief. Yet though I wore this cloak of bravery that seemed extremely convincing (so much so that a roommate chided me for being too stoic), something within me was wrong, empty.

And since then every year at this time memories would assail me and weigh me down. They did come at other times too, but more frequently at this.

I found it unfair, even. After all, when he had been around, I hadn't agreed with him much. At times I felt like I hated him. Why then should it be so difficult?

Yeah, I rail against my parents sometimes – mostly in my mind. They made so many mistakes, I feel. As Philip Larkin said,

They fuck you up, your mom and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Yet, here I am. I act stupid – and lazy – much more frequently than I would like, but overall I am not totally delinquent. They can’t have done that badly then, eh?
This year, for the first time, those memories did not come. It was my dad’s birthday yesterday, and I was not depressed.

Maybe at last, I have reached the end of my mourning. Maybe now I can look back dispassionately, forgive him for what I think he did wrong, forgive myself for not loving him enough, feeling pity and understanding for all that was missing and made him unhappy, and acknowledging my gratitude for all that he did do right.


Aneela Z said...

Unmama...this was so moving...I go through something similar every Oct when my dad's anni comes around..count yourself lucky that you have memories (good/bad/ conflicting) Im the proverbial hamster in a wheel recycling the same three images.
all my prayers.

Indian Home Maker said...

Unmana I am so sorry, but I am glad that you are talking about it. His family was with him, and you got to say goodbye. I am sure after a while you will be able to remember him with a loving smile.

Rohini said...

Very touching... I'm so moved..

Cee Kay said...

Hugs, honey. Your post gives me courage - that one day even I will be able to move past the hurt. Well, not entirely maybe, but enough to be functional?

Thanks for your kind email. It meant a lot to me.

Unmana said...

Aneela, IHM: I seem to remember responding to your comments, but I don't see it here. Sorry about that. Thank you both. It was only now, after all this time, that I had the courage to write about it. And yes, I am very glad I got to say goodbye.

Rohini: thank you too.

Cee Kay: I don't know what to say. Again, I'm sorry, and I am sure you will find the courage. Saying anything seems inadequate, I just hope for the best for you.