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Archive for July, 2013

Remembrance

It has been almost six years since my father passed away. It has become marginally easier to remember him these days. Tears don’t well up automatically at every thought of him. But a sense of unreality still persists. It is still difficult to think of his absence as a void that will remain forever. It is still impossible to quell the sense of overpowering loss or subdue that feeling of overwhelming regret, at the thought of his untimely death.

At this point of my life, I stand on the threshold of significant changes. I greet new faces and look forward to new beginnings. There are unguarded moments, however, when I sit contemplating the present and weaving dreams of the future…when images of my father and thoughts from the past, flash across my mind. And then the realization dawns on me that he can never be there to smile on my good fortune… or appreciate the wonderful things in my life. He can never be there to give me his all-embracing support and acceptance… or be there to comfort me in moments of sadness.

All that remains of the vibrant man, with that candid and brilliant smile,  are a few photographs, a few belongings, and a whole gamut of memories.

When I cook something and it goes unappreciated, I invariably remember my father. I remember how happy he used to be even when I would serve him something tasteless… just because it was something I had made. If I gave him a small gift, he would cherish it like it was the greatest treasure. After he passed away, I found among his personal belongings…. things that I had given him. Faded greeting cards… a torn wallet or an inexpensive and empty bottle of aftershave. He had kept them all.

Whenever I feel neglected, a bit forsaken or, taken for granted, I unfailingly  remember my father… and I am filled with bittersweet memories. I remember… his excessive pride in me, in my little achievements…  his belief in me, even when I did not live up to general expectations… his great love for me, even when I was following a selfish path.

I remember how alive he was, even during those last days. His mind was sharp and inquiring and he would enthusiastically take part in all my plans…. as much as his weakening health and dwindling strength would allow him. He would want to hear about my activities, my thoughts. Only now, I can fully understand how important it is to have a listener who grants you complete and undivided attention.

How he loved old films and songs! He would hum along with his favorite singers and reminisce about the bygone days. There was a part of him that always dwelt in the past. He had faced disappointments and hardships… that had made him somewhat disillusioned. But he never for a moment ceased to hope or dream for my future.

I look at his photographs and remember how young he was and how handsome. My father was as good looking as a movie star. And no, I am not exaggerating. He had a broad forehead, and an aquiline nose…. his dark eyes would crinkle with laughter, and his hair was always so well-groomed. His black, wavy hair was his secret pride… I can still see him… standing in front of a mirror, bending a little and, meticulously combing his hair. Even when illness took away his health and looks, his hair remained black and beautiful. I would, sometimes, tease him about his swarthy complexion. He would get a serious look on his face and insist that he was not dark but ‘coffee-brown’ and that his European friends really liked his skin tone. How we would all laugh at this little conceit!

My father was a great admirer of Uttam Kumar, the Bengali movie star. He would always want to watch the reruns of Uttam Kumar movies on the telly… so much so that I would get slightly rattled. Because, at the time, I would prefer watching programmes that were more exciting than boring black and white classics. It’s only now that I truly appreciate the craft and thought that would go in the making of those films. It’s only now that I understand what a wonderful performer Uttam Kumar was and how right my father was in admiring him. These days, when ever, the handsome face of the late screen idol flashes across the silver screen, I think of my dad. How I miss watching those lovely Uttam Kumar films with my father, by my side!

I go through my father’s old files and certificates and am repeatedly reminded of his many achievements and talents. In his youth, he lived in a glamorous world and met celebrities and VIPs on an everyday basis. He was used to gourmet food, sumptuous ambience and yet, there was nothing he liked more than the simple pleasure of spending time at home, surrounded by his loved ones. He really loved us, his family and when I look back and think of all the things that he had done for us….. I feel a deep sense of love and gratitude. Not once did he deprive his family of things that truly matter… like good food, books etc. Once in a while, he would make my sister and me wait for a second new outfit or a Walkman but that only taught us about the value of things. My father abhorred wastage of any sort and he would insist that we finished our food properly, before leaving the dining table. He gave us valuable life lessons in his quiet, firm, yet unobtrusive way.

Strangely, even the demise of my father has brought me closer to an understanding of something significant. That death is not just a vague, unfamiliar occurrence but a reality that I need to be prepared for. One day it will come to me. But if, at the other side of the veil…. in the middle of all the darkness and overwhelming terror…… I find the familiar, dear, dear face of my father, then I don’t have anything to fear. Death has, in a way, lost some of its sting. Of course, I fear the idea of loss still but there is a kind of hope too. A hope of meeting my father again.

Now, I see my son, toddling about, busy as a little bird, flitting from one object to another. I see the same broad forehead, the well-defined curve of his upper lips, the determination in his chin, even the same squarish palms…. and I can’t help but think of my father. There are so many similarities. I just know that had my father been alive today, he would have simply doted upon his grandson. Because he was not only loving but also knew how to demonstrate his affection well. He knew how to laugh and make others laugh. My boy would surely have been one pampered little guy! However, these wishful thoughts only make the well of sadness inside me threaten to brim over.

My son will know about his grandfather through photographs, that do speak a thousand words… through a few personal items, that can be so revealing. Also, I hope to tell him stories that will help him build a near-complete picture of his grandfather… stories that will also keep memories of my father burning brightly in my heart.

Copyright © 2013 [Violet Dolui]. All Rights Reserved.

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