His memory followed me even when he moved on
It was after me even though I had pushed him away
It was tracing my footsteps through the barren lands
It was sneaking up on me from behind trees and rocks in those forests
It was lurking out at the most ungodly hours in the snow-capped mountain peaks
It was chasing me to the sand dunes; it waited near the oasis to quench his thirst
He was hunting me down like a deer caught in headlights
He was pursuing me through the deep dark caves under the Earth
He was tracking me down to the waterfalls of Niagara
He was walking down to my trail and reaching out to me as I break down, not letting me rise
He wanted me to be back, his memory not letting me find a hideaway
He wanted me somehow, his reminiscence making me trip every time I move on
His words coming back from the past to haunt me
His touch still spreading its arms, ambushing me unawares
I sat there and cried, wailed, shouted, threw stones at him, asking him to leave me alone. The wind blowing hard on my face, chilling me to the bone. My hair was scattered all around me as I gathered some loose strands and tucked them behind my ear. I Heard him then. His voice howled with the wind right in my ear as I closed my eyes. It was like he is sitting next to me, startled I opened my eyes and saw him, he was sitting right in front of me.
He just smiled, held my hand, looked into my eyes, and told me “I won’t leave you, I am here for life. You have left me, but I won’t leave you. My memory will chase you to the ends of this Earth. I will live inside you till the end of Time. You can’t hide from me; I will never let go. You know why? Because I live in each breath you take, I survive in your thoughts; I feed on your soul, I drink the blood of your heart, I get stronger with each tear you shed. I am here for a lifetime, remember the promise” he said with an ashen face as I looked transfixed into those mystical eyes.
“Yes”, I told him. I remember it; I remember the promise “we will live in each other, we will never be apart, nothing separates us but death”….. I said that to his memory as he smiled and vanished into a puff of smoke, drifting with fog. I buried my face in my knees, wrapping my hands around me, wanting to feel safe and secure, and repeated those words “nothing separates us but death, nothing separates us but death, nothing separates us but death”.
I removed the blades I wore in around my neck and held one to my wrist. My hands trembled, my breath caught in my throat, my heart beating hard like a drum, my mouth went dry and throat parched. His voice came in my ear “Do it”. I closed my eyes, steeled my heart, stopped breathing and drew the blade across my wrist. The blood splashed across the floor. The pain seared through me, scourging my being. And I saw you, your face in the blood that pooled around me. With every drop that flowed you drained from my body. It was getting quieter, peaceful, sleepy. What a relief to have exorcised you from my soul. I smiled in contentment before all thoughts left me and I slept in the lap of my free soul. Unburdened of the promise we made, I kept it, baby, I kept my promise love. Nothing separates us but Death.
Missing is not a timely thing; it’s a full-time job. A 24/7/365 thing. You are never done missing someone. It becomes second nature, just like breathing, paining a little with every heartbeat. Morning you will wake up and feel blissfully ignorant for few blessed moments and then the missing part will hit you hard in the guts, and you know a perfect day just turned imperfectly bittersweet. You will be bathing and find yourself just sitting in the tub or standing in the shower, letting the water soothe your senses, in retrospection on life, a knock on the door will jerk you back to present, and you will give yourself a small mental tap “get it together, just go through the day”‘
Getting dressed and making a scavenger hunt through your cupboard and you found the old sweater he so loved on you, and you pick it and feel it in your hands, feel its texture, try to relive that moment in time. You rub the sleeves on your cheeks and then sigh as you keep it back in the corner so that it won’t come back in your hands anytime soon. Sitting at the breakfast table and you are just served a toast that’s a bit burnt, and without any prefix you see him sitting in the chair opposite you, grimacing as he looks at the burnt toast and making a face like attempting to eat it. You laugh, and suddenly you realise you are alone in the kitchen, no one is here. You finish your breakfast in automation as food is needed to live. You lock your home thinking you locked his memory in there as well, but as soon as you bring your car to a stop on that red signal, you realise he has followed you and is sitting in the passenger seat next to you, his hand on the gear over yours, smiling at you in that quirky way with the corner of his lips curled up in a smile. The cars lined behind you honk, your stupor is broken, the signal has turned green, and you are still immobile, you shrug him away and get on with it.
You pull over in front of your workplace, and his favourite song plays on the radio, you switch it off, but he holds your hands and pulls you closer for one goodbye kiss, and you know it can keep you warm all day long, a colleague comes and taps your window, you are snapped from that alternate reality and give one longing look at the radio as you close it and move on. The work consumes you all, completely and it’s such a relief, you got no time, and he got no time to get you to himself. He sits back waiting for his chance to pounce you again. Lunch break it is, and your phone rings and your heart leaps that it’s him before you realise it can’t be him and you let the phone ring as you hear his voice in your ear as he whispers sweet nothings, telling you all things good and bad about his day. The caller disconnected, the silence broke your reverie, and you called back.
You are back home and at your doorstep, and you unlock the door, and the house is so silent, so quiet, you fall back on the couch, and take off your shoes, and there he is again, bringing you a cup of coffee he made for you, just like the way you like it. You trance broken as you see the coffee machine blink and you head back to change, taking off the 9-5 minimalist jewelry, and you open the drawer, but he was already waiting for you in there, making you yearn for him as you see the ring he forgot sitting in the drawer, you pick it up, wear it, feel how it snuggled around your finger and place it back in the drawer and shut it close with a bang, annoyed at him, annoyed at yourself.
In the kitchen you are making yourself a dinner when he sneaks on you and hugs you from behind, you close your eyes as he rests his chin on your shoulder and kisses the nape of your neck. You tell his memory to leave you alone, but it won’t, he was always so resilient. Like a robot you go through the whole dinner making and eating ritual as he smiles at you from the kitchen counter, sitting on it, making sexy, funny, sad faces, trying to get your attention. Time for bed and your close your bedroom door shut, and snuggle into your bedding, patting your back that you went through one more day. But he won’t let you be, he is under your blanket, scooting close to you at once, embracing you and entwining his fingers in yours, kissing your lips softly, running his fingers through your hair. But now you are so exhausted by ignoring him all day long that you allow his memory to make love to you as silent tears fall from your eyes and wet your pillow.
Finally, comes sleep and you are happy that its oblivion, unconsciousness. NO, you were wrong, he isn’t done with you yet, he is there in your dreams, beckoning you, singing, dancing, picking you up and spinning you around till you feel giddy. You laugh, you laugh hysterically till you cry, hard body rocking sobs and you get up startled, heart beating hard, soaked in sweat, tears in your eyes. You bury your face in your knees as you know that he won’t leave you.HE LOVES YOU TOO MUCH TOO LEAVE YOU ALONE; YOU LOVE HIM TOO MUCH TO LET HIM GO. You place your head on his lap and close your eyes as he rocks you to sleep, just to wake up next day and go through the same routine.
I am writing this letter to you and writing just because I need to pen down my feelings; I need to let my thoughts on paper, or they claw me from inside. You are sacred to me Papa. I can never have a better god. A religion where You and I, we both are dedicated to each other. You have now left that body, the body I learned to love all my life. The hands that caresses my hair, wiped my tears, held me in my times of need, embraced me to shower immense love, fed me when my hand was broken, even tied my shoe laces before school every morning, wish I could hold them once again and hide my face in your palms like old times. There was never a better touch than your loving caress. I learned to cherish your eyes, that saw me as the perfect daughter; I was beautiful even with acne and pimples to your eyes.
The eyes I miss so much, so many tears I saw in them, that would well up at my slighted wound, be it to my body or heart. I wish to look into your eyes once again and kiss them; they are my two worlds. I miss your shoulders you know, on which I could rest my head and feel like all the pain washed away, in them I would hide from all the world and you would let none see me, harm me. I am still hallowed by your voice; that is still echoing in my voice, solemnly living in my soul. I miss the laughter in your voice and the way you scolded me in front of mum, just for the heck of it, My Goodness, so fake it used to be and made us conspirators against her. I so want to hear that voice once again papa; I so want to have that one more talk. I so want to hug you and hug you so bad.
You called me pious, after you, no one thought I am pious, you called me Angel, I have never felt like one after you. You made me your religion and your sanctuary, I have lost my god with you, never again my heart found peace. I touch your glasses and try to find your eyes behind them, but it’s just plastic, I kiss your watch wanting to feel your wrist in it, but no, it’s just metal. Your perfume bottle is till secure with me, and you know, I spray it sometimes, just in my room and close my eyes, trying to imagine that you are here, and for a moment, just for the time being, I fabricate you from pieces and feel your presence.
Why am I drafting this letter, I don’t know, but what I do know is it will reach you, I want to say so many things Papa, I am so desperate for you sometimes, just that one phone call. You remember how many times you told me that Papa is just a phone call away, Oh why then I can’t reach you on your number. I still have it, I call it sometimes, and despite all my wisdom your little girl who lives in me says “Pick Up”, haha, wasn’t I always a little foolish Papa ? I still remember the day of that Earthquake, you remember I was scared, and you told me, that you would shield me but let no harm come to me, I so miss my shield. You know I eat the things you loved, even lot of green chillies, thinking that you live in me somewhere and I might feel satiated by doing all this. Why Papa, why is body temporary when we are taught to love it for years upon years.
You know numerous times I have seen Mum miss you, but she never shows, she hides her pain from me, Yet I am her daughter and can see through her fake smiles, the unshed tears. Let me confess; I have not been the best daughter to her. I have not even taken care of her like you used to do, in fact, she is the one who took care of me all this time. I was always partial to you, always loved you more, I haven’t done justice to the woman who gave me this life and nurtured me within her body for nine while months, and has been nurturing me ever since. She is a pillar of strength Papa, you won’t know how bravely she held things together, I am very ungrateful to her you know, but you always knew. We still fight a lot you know, the only difference is that now we patch up on our own since we are aware you won’t come to mediate. I am sorry as I didn’t even keep the promise I gave to you on your last evening with me. It is a tough task you left me; I am so sorry.
I know you have broken the laws of nature to get back to me in ways no one will comprehend. In my dreams, in my friends, in things I do or say. You know I look for shades of you in all I meet, but you were Great, none is like you, none at all. I was a princess to you always, but you are my king too, now I tell you what I lack, what I need, and before I know it, you help me in mysterious ways. You have proven your presence to me in so many ways, and I know you will always be with me. I know you know all my heart’s desire, but I have learned things you know. Learned to make my way, learned to survive without dependence, learned to fall and get up myself. I have held onto your memories with both hands and trying to move ahead. Life has moved on like all told me it will, I don’t cry that much now, like all said I will, but you know, one thing they told wrong, that Time heals all wounds, IT DOES NOT! It is just that we learnt to adapt and evolved as per the situation. Now I firmly believe that what doesn’t kills you makes you stronger. I can’t say enough how much I miss you. But I know you know that I MISS YOU!
Sometimes I wish you were not that good; I might not have missed you so much, but you were so good, a great Father. Never you laid a hand on me, never you scolded me, and whenever you did, I would encash on the coaxing and cajoling that followed a few minutes later. Always you would say a Goodbye and then come back for another Goodbye, just to make sure nothing was left unsaid, but not this last time. You know you went without a Goodbye, and I am still waiting for it. I still hear your car come to a halt at the gate; I still hear your footfalls around the house. I still look into your briefcase to find scraps of your handwriting. I still got your pen and your ties and your shoes. I touch your shoes when I need your blessings, they still got the shape of your feet. Life is long, and there is still lots of time left in our reunion, but know that I carry you in my heart. Make this journey with me Papa; I so need you.Till then I will wait for the day I get to see you again. Promise me you will take me in your arms like you used to do when you were back from tours.
I Love You, Today, Tomorrow and Always, Forever and Ever
Old age is viewed as an unavoidable, undesirable and problem ridden phase of life. It brings many obstacles for the ones going through, many problems, physiologically, psychologically, socially, emotionally and financially. The baggy eyes, the sagging, wrinkled, blue-veined skin, the toothless smile, the silver hair, the lisp words, the trembling hands, the bent back, the improper motor skills and unstable steps, all are screaming of a lifetime of experience and struggle.
They develop symptoms like poor memory, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache, depression, memory defect, periods of confusion, lowered efficiency in work, intolerance of change, disorientation, restlessness, insomnia, failure of judgement, a gradual formation of delusion and hallucinations, extreme-mental depression and agitation, severe mental clouding in which the individual becomes restless, combative, mental stability diminishes, financial power becomes bleak and eyesight suffers a setback. It is a period of disappointment, dejection, disease, repentance and remorse.
I always believed in fairy tales, from my childhood they fascinated me, those mystical lands of Prince and Princess, Kings, and Queens, Demons, and Devils, Witches, and Wizards, of Palaces and Caves, of Unicorns and Centaurs, of Spells and Potions, of Curses and Charms and I was lost in them for as long as my father could manage to stretch the stories, and then I would whine and sulk that it wasn’t long enough, and he would kiss me as he made me sit in his lap and promise me an even better story tomorrow and I would go to sleep with that promise hanging in the air, already eager for the next night. The next evening as he would come home from the office I eagerly would wait for him at the door, reminding him that he needs to recite the longest story tonight and he would smile and nod hugging me despite his tiredness and weariness. I could hardly contain my excitement as he washed and changed, finished dinner, spent some time with grandparents all the while holding my palm in his hand like a constant reassurance that said “soon”, and then he would pick me up in his arms and retire to our room(me, my mother and him had one room to ourselves as we lived in joint family), there he would help me get settled for the night, lovingly containing my excitement with his words, making me realise that we should finish all our nightly routine so no one disturbs us during story time and my eyes would grow a little wider with that pre-event buzz. He would tuck me in my cot and lie next to me on his side of the bed as my mother finished the remaining chores in kitchen and finally, he would ask ” so what kinda story shall I tell my doll today ?”, I would turn to him with enthusiasm only to find him drowsy, about to fall asleep, then tickle him, till I see him shake off the sleep, wanting his complete focus and unwavering attention. He would pretend that he was just acting to fall asleep and I would start giving preferences “Papa I want one where there are animals and a princess and a ghost”, and look at his face eagerly for him to begin, and then he would say “my hand I can tell you one magnificent tale of a lion, a princess like you and a poor carpenter”, cleverly deterring me from the demand of a ghost story as he knew that I wouldn’t sleep out of fear then. I would nod vigorously just wanting it to begin, and he would always start with “once upon a time”, and trust me, it became my favourite quote.
He would meticulously weave his story through all the elements and characters, spinning a thrilling tale for me on the spot, he would decorate it with sound effects of animals, horse hooves, arrows flying and drums beating, he would change his voice and tone for each character, turning it animated for animal characters, making me jump and squeal and laugh with each twist and turn. Somewhere during the story, I would leave my cot and scoot on his side clinging to him as I wrapped my small arms around his belly, thinking I have secured the most unique seat and he would tap my back in that rhythmic pace. I would hide my face in his chest when he told how the lion attacked the princess and would kiss him in between when he said how the carpenter came to her rescue and my breathing would get shallow when the King decides to execute the carpenter for touching the princess, I would change postures in elation as the adventure progressed losing myself in his voice as he traveled with me through that magical world and would stop breathing when the princess marries the carpenter to save him from King and clap like the most attentive and satisfied audience when he ended it with “and they lived happily ever after”, never once he ended them sadly, making his girl happy, keeping her safe from the harsh realities. My mother would settle with us by then, and she would look at my father with the hope of exchanging a few words with him, but he would be softly snoring by then, and I would place a finger on my lips ” Sssshhhh, Papa has fallen asleep, I helped him tell a very nice story”, my mother would give me a warm and sad little smile and place a finger on her own lips in agreement, and we all would switch off lights and close our eyes. The only thing I could think of was how nice a tale, what wise princess, what courageous Carpenter, what a fierce lion, while my mother would be gazing silently at my father’s sleeping form with contentment. The thought that the story was told to make me sleep, so that my father could have a few words of affection with my mother never crossed my mind, I was gleeful that I am still up while he slept, it never occurred to me that my mother was a very vital part of my father’s life, that she yearned for a little time with him, for me he was all mine, my property.
As I grew up my love for stories kept growing, and I graduated from papa’s fairytale to short stories, books, novels, epics, and then came a day when my storyteller left this world forever! And now, I want to write a story, I want to be a tale spinner, you know why? Because I know that my love for stories was not because I loved to read, but because he loved to tell them, now I know that I was his only audience, and he charmed me each night, just for love I showered on him. The magic was in the man and not the tales, in his unconditional love, and I often crave for one more story. Now it’s my turn to be showered with love. Today I wanna be a storyteller, today I want to return some of what I got, today I want to honour my father’s memory, today I have decided I will spin some tales of my own as I was nurtured with the fables of a Tale Spinner!