It has been five years since my father passed away. Five years in which life has changed in so many ways. However I still miss him. In fact I miss him even more.
When you lose a person the true shock and grief does not really hit you immediately. You have to be stoic for others, there are things to do that command and demand greater attention than your own grief. You have to come to terms with the new reality however your own grief is somehow ignored in the process. Some version of normality gets established and you go on with your life. Then something happens, something trivial, seemingly insignificant which acts as the trigger that breaks down the dam holding your grief back.
For me that moment was in May of 2013. I had gotten a new and decently paying job and I had moved out of my friend’s apartment to my first home of my own. After years of dreaming I finally was living alone. After deciding to move on a Friday morning by Sunday afternoon I was living in my own apartment. The 1 Bedroom hall apartment seemed too big for me on that day. By evening I had bought some of the basic essentials, new mattress, pillows etc. That night as I laid down it dawned on me the enormity of challenges ahead. I was living on my own for the first time. Till date I had stayed either with my parents, in hostel, with relatives or friends. Now I had to manage an entire house on my own. I also had to learn to manage with the solitude that comes with. I started hoping that I could ask my father about it who after all had lived for years in New Delhi alone.
That was the trigger.
For the first time since my father’s death I cried out. Unrestrained, unabashedly I cried out that night. That was when I truly missed him.
The first time I travelled to Himalayas was in the October 2011. This was a time when my father was going in and out of treatment. Badrinath was a long held dream of mine and I travelled there. Gangotri was actually an unplanned bonus, one that held me spellbound. Mesmerized by the sheer beauty of those mountains I had promised that the next time I come it would be to do the last rites of my father. Thus I told my mother too after the mandatory rituals were done in Kerala. This was the time when my Bullet craze was gaining strength and my mother was worried that I would want to ride all the way to Gangotri. Thinking smartly, at least as per her, she said she also wants to come with me. Smiling inwardly at my shrewd tactics I arranged for us to travel to Gangotri.
Gangotri in the March of 2014 was a completely snow bound town, empty except for two or three caretakers of a few Ashrams. It was a sunny day though, which meant I could actually be in the water to perform the rites. Wearing just my mundu, walking barefoot on the snow and rocks I was stuck by how devoid of life this bustling place was now. Devoid except for our party and a crow and a dog. To this date I do not know where they came from. Without food bearing tourists during season and because of the intense cold and snow there was no reason for those creatures to be there, but there they were to bear witness. I think that was arranged by my father.
2016 was a massively tumultuous year for me. Travelling outside of India and getting married were the hallmarks of that year. The year started off with our trip to Melbourne to attend the wedding of our cousin Keerthi. As part of the same trip I had insisted Amma to arrange a concert for herself. It was always a dream of my father that Amma played a concert abroad. He in fact had discussed it several times with his younger sister Jaya who lives in Melbourne. The day of the concert, I could stand only at the back. I was wearing my father’s Rayban, trying to hide my tears hoping that through these glasses my father could see yet another of his wishes being achieved.
After returning from Australia we were all getting busy with the wedding arrangements. With me being in Bangalore and with barely any leaves was hardly able to do any work. However my mother rose up as a superb organizer. She remodeled our home, got it painted and expertly arranged every aspect of the wedding. Greatest moments of fun for us while navigating through various hurdles was imagining at all the tantrums my father would have created. With potentials of extreme stupidity we were sure he would have made a lot of mess. It was quite interesting when it was just the three of us but with the family expanding it was quite fun imagining how my father would have interacted with them all!
My wife, Aathira, is an extremely feisty person herself. Being a go getter and a person not ashamed at getting her hands dirty to get the work done I am sure my father would have loved the female counter part of himself. They would have become the thickest of friends and I can also see some really crazy and loud fights between them concerning the subject of Me.
My father in law, TR Ramavarma is in all expects a complete opposite of my own father. While one is soft spoken, mild mannered and always dressed to form in formals the other was extremely brash, loud and dressed in the bare minimum. Watching them interact could have been a rerun of the movie “The Dark Knight”, an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Both fathers are extremely crazy, extremely stupid, and extremely obstinate in wildly different ways.
In terms of temperament I think my mother in law Ajitha, is more similar to my father. Unreasonable during normal times but can think clearly in times of panic. Her and my father would have made a good team during times of crisis. Besides both enjoy murukkan, the Kerala style of Paan.
My family has grown, my life has expanded however the abyss left by my father is still there. I miss him when I ride my Bullet. I miss him when I drive my Jeep. I miss him most when doing normal chores with which I need help with. I miss him when I need to repair something and I think of asking him for advice. Mainly I just miss him, my father.