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To dad, with love

My father is 82 years old and sinking. I visited him in Chennai for a fortnight recently, and I am still haunted by his condition. He is shrivelled; his once magnificent paunch is today flat. His legs interlock all the time, hampering his mobility. His teeth are all but gone; as a result, his food has to be pureed in a blender. Not a word he has uttered in the past year or so, though on good days he nearly recognises people around him. This is in total contrast to what he was in his heyday.

My dad had always been the alpha male of our extended household. He is the eldest among his siblings and one of the first from his village to have made it good in the city.

He was equally well- known for his temper and his generosity. Relatives, friends and neighbours would always count on him for help, be it for building a house, conducting a wedding, pursuing education, or managing sickness and hospital expenses. Someone needs a job: ‘Thambu’ will help. You need to find a groom for your daughter: call Thambu, they will say. Your mother is sick: Thambu will take you to a doctor. His benevolence knew no bounds, and this “Jeep Uncle” and his vehicle became veritable symbols of dependability whenever needed.

Dad, not that you were ultra-rich, but you never ever failed to provide us with the necessities. Though you were the patriarch of a huge family, with the consequent commitments, you never thought your daughters’ college education would be a burden. Neither had you thought of delaying your three daughters’ weddings in spite of lack of funds. You didn’t even hesitate to adopt your nephew and niece and bring them up along with your four kids without showing any sort of discrimination. Indeed, you were always larger-than-life for us when we were growing up into adulthood.

Maybe I never told you this, but now I am frantically looking for ways to reach out to you and tell you how much we appreciate all the things you have done for us. Can your pain be lessened if you know so many people care for you?

Where can I possibly get a magic wand that, when I wave over you, would bring new strength to your legs and hands so that you can reach out for the stars right now, just as you once upon a time taught us to do?

I can’t imagine what you are going through in this helpless state of yours today. I only hope that all our love and healing thoughts somehow bring some peace and tranquillity to you at this time.

jayanthc1@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:31:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/To-dad-with-love/article14179896.ece

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