20th April, 1984 (36 years to the day)
It was on a Good Friday and my mother and I was in church attending the rather long service that was almost coming to a close around 3 pm when my brother came searching for her. Those were the days of limited communication, telephones were landlines and we did not have one.
My dad was in the hospital for a check up and had met my brother in the morning visit and he had asked him to get her in the evening. He was at home when he was visited by a constable from the nearest police station. He was startled but realized that he was just a messenger. The hospital had called the nearest police station as we did not have a phone and he came over to inform that someone needs to go to the hospital as my dad was not too well.
My brother, following my dad’s morning order, came to the church and we proceeded to the hospital. We reached around 4 pm and the visiting hours were from 5pm to 7pm and we were not being allowed inside.
My brother had one pass for two and he went up with a neighbor. I remember talking to someone to give us a pass to go up to the room. I got one pass went up the lift alone to the concerned floor. As I reached the room, i saw my brother come out and shake his head. I told him to go down and send mother. I walked into the room and took a step back.
My dad was swathed in white and his face was also covered. I peeled back the layers and exposed his face. He was ice cold and looked peaceful. I stood there unsure of what to do and was looking out the window when my mom came in. She was not prepared to see her man in that condition. Before I could catch her she collapsed with a thud. I sprinkled some water and she came to. We hugged and broke down.
By this time it seemed the entire church had descended to the hospital and matters were taken from my hands. The funeral was conducted after three days as we waited for my eldest brother to come down from Muscat. My sister managed the calls to relatives.
I was 21 and in my 1st year of hotel management a month before my exam and did not know what lay ahead. I did give the exams and well.
These events are still as clear as yesterday without the benefit of cameras, mobile phones or videos. It had been burned into my memory with pain.
On turning the pages further back and trying to recollect what kind of father he was, I have few memories of personal interaction but that was the style of parenting, never in your face, too much interference, and self help was the motto. This meant that you needed to make decisions, make mistakes, learn from it and become better.
Financial constraints meant that you became creative and stretch your imagination to get what you want. But when I got an eye injury (cornea rupture) as a result of a misdirected throw while playing hand cricket, I saw my dad losing his cool at a hospital which did not admit us and we had to be rushed to another one, he was by my side.
My driving was initiated on the Amby way back in the late 70’s thanks to him as was the parenting style of giving a long rope to my kids and allowing them to grow with independence.
So, Pappa, as I use to call him, was a figure in the background but with a heart of gold as was demonstrated by his love for animals.. be it dogs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, parrots, mynah and even an aquarium in the small two room house that always was full of people both immediate and extended.
Thank you for inculcating a heart of kindness and goodness in us and a leaning for the arts and a penchant for head-wear.
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