From Dad, with Love

From Dad, with Love




He had never meant much to me. I had never loved him. I thought he considered his work more important. I never shared my thoughts with him because I felt he would never understand. He never made a place for himself in my heart. Why is then my heart crying for him today? Why is it that I’ve suddenly started to love him? Why is it that I’ve grown to hate myself for not giving our relationship a chance?

“Sir!” the voice of the airhostess yanked me back to the present, “Your coffee, sir!’ I smiled and took the cup. I was returning to
Nepal after five years. As an employee of a multinational in Bangkok, it was very difficult to spare time for a long vacation. My trade-off: a handsome pay. But this time I had to return.

Yesterday, I had a call from my mother. I was over the moon talking to her after a long time. “Hey, how are you?” I blurted out in excitement. She remained silent. “Mom, what is it?” I was starting to feel creepy. She answered as if chocking on her tears, “Your father… he is dead.” The receiver dropped from my hand. I stood there blank, speechless, lifeless.

My wife came running out of the kitchen. “What is it Ashish? What happened?” she asked.  Tears started rolling down my eyes. I threw myself into her arms and cried. I cried like a baby, long and loud. I cried for all those wonderful moments that I am my father had spent together when I was a child. I cried because I had lost someone I loved. I never realised it, but today when I’ve lost him, I know for sure that I really loved him. After I took control of my emotions, I told my wife about what had happened. She immediately booked three airline tickets for the next day.

So here I am, with my wife and kid waiting impatiently for the plane to land. As soon as we landed at the airport, we left for home. I saw my mother, still, with no emotions on her face, all wrapped in whites. As soon as she saw me, she ran toward me, held me and burst into tears. I cried along. My father was a good friend to my mother, always very supportive and caring. He may not have been one of the romantic kind, but his love for her was unmatched. I was just beginning to understand how difficult it would be for her to have lost the love of her life who meant nearly everything to her.

At Pashupatinath, it was difficult for me to set fire to his body, but as a son, it was my duty. So I did it. I looked at his face for one last time. It was not the face that I knew. The face I remembered was always glowing. It then struck me that probably what was always vibrant and glowing was his soul that I was never able to see. And what I was doing here was liberating that soul, which had been trapped within a body, from the worldly worries so that it could now experience heavenly bliss. So even at that sad moment, I somehow felt happy for him.

The next day as I was sitting by the window, my mother came to me and handed me a letter. He had written it in his last few hours on earth. It read:

Hey Ashish, my son. You’ve grown up to be a mature and a responsible man. It feels good. As your father, I worked relentlessly to see this day. But in that quest I realised that I forgot to be a part of your childhood. I was so busy working all the time that I could never spend even a few quality moments with you. I thought I gave you everything as a father but yet I never understood that I was straying away. I was never there to help you out with your homework; never there to listen to you speak about your day at school; never there to cheer you up in your football matches. And by the time I realised it all, you had already drifted away. I’m sorry son. I love you — Dad.

My eyes welled up. I remembered that phase as I was growing. My father tried to bridge the gap we had developed over the years. But I always drew away. I thought that he had never cared much for me when I was a little boy, so why this pretence now! But now I realise how wrong I was. He was trying to make up for what he had missed.

This realisation today has made me a better son, but unfortunately I don’t have my father around to tell him how I feel. More importantly it has turned me into a better father who now knows that just harbouring feelings of love and affection isn’t enough, I need to express it.

I noticed my son playing football in the garden all by himself. “Hey Sunny, do you want to play with dad?” I asked. “Sure, I would love to dad.” The game may have been just another one for him but years later he will cherish it, I thought. As for me, I have my dad’s letter to cherish for the rest of my life.

But I also wish that at the end of my life, I don’t have to leave any letter to my son, to let him know how much I love him. If there is any time for me to make him feel my love, it’s now.

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