Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Year Hence

It's been a year. A favourite food offering was made. Photographs were wiped and garlanded. A date, based on the lunar year, was set for the religious ceremony. A very heartfelt ad was put in the paper, one that quoted Frankie Laine's 'Flamenco' ("Dance, gypsy, dance, gypsy/Laugh and romance, gypsy. Dance, gypsy, dance, gypsy/Break every rule/Fly, gypsy, cry, gypsy/LOVE WILL NOT DIE, GYPSY/Now that you've captured the heart of a fool").

We didn't know what to do further.

Religion, however you personally choose to profess it, endows the bereaved with traditional duties and customs, ostensibly for the purpose of adhering to tradition but I believe that it is secretly intended to distract the bereaved from the grief and also to give them the freedom from participation in activities/events that might cause them to miss the deceased even more. Religious tradition expects you to do something in memory - to do it feels necessary but it does not of course feel completely satisfactory.

So I played his songs extra loudly. That helped a bit. But it didn't feel right. It felt like how they have Rajnikanth music specials on his birthday. How do you celebrate and grieve at the same time for someone whose absence is so conspicuous, still a little raw and whose true spirit was so free from rigid ideologies, unwaveringly seeking only what was fair and true? He would laugh at the acts that try to distort the truth and present some warped sense of reality. For him, the truth however unpretty, however complicated, was the only thing worth living for. Hypocritical, wishy-washy behaviour was something he saw through at once, even if it was in his favour. For him, his heart ruled and he followed it, unfailingly, as much as a man of science could. So when I felt a twinge of hurt at an action that attempted to do exactly the above, I decided to do just what my father would have done - laugh. Because when you know the truth and when the truth is love, you have nothing to feel hurt about. If there's anything my father has taught me, it's to be truthful and about to be strong, cement-footed about it.

In a year, life can throw beautiful miracles your way. It can heal you by keeping you so busy, so absorbed, so productive that you push the pain to the back of your mind. That helps. But of course, in the dark, sometimes at night, it sears and aches because of the forced vacancy, the closed door that you cannot open, a fated date that you cannot reverse.

And you dread the date coming around again, because you don't want to confront it. It would seal the time since so specifically that it increases the vast canyon that separates you from that person you had so close and who seems to have just slipped out beyond reach. I always felt that past the one year mark, I would be so further away from his life, that his living memory would fade and I forgot what it felt like to hold his hand. There would be tears but less specific. I would rather crave him to question my movements, to miss me when I travel, to be there so that we could have major life decision conversations and even arguments. I would want him to scare the person I chose to marry and to finally agree. I would never want someone to do that for me, not even another family member. I wish that he, specifically, him as a person, would be there to do that because I am not able to imagine right now how he would react to such circumstances. When he was ill, I was so wrapped up in his health, his suffering, the fear that I would not have much time with him that I treasured our daily moments together and never had the luxury of taking my father for granted, as most people would do. My parents' love raised and lifted me in such a way that I never felt the typical teenage stirrings of rebellion or the need to let loose. Of course, I was lucky that they never suppressed or restricted me but I knew what his expectations of me as a human being were and I always felt responsible to that. So, in my moments of weakness and rage at life's order of things, I sometimes feel so resentful that my father being a father of a 24 year old girl is something that I will never have the privilege of experiencing.

But I do have faith in the protection he has left me, both earthly and metaphysical. I can only imagine what they would react to the prayers and offerings being done (knowing my father, he would say "Bah, humbug!") I believe that he is a part of all the good things that happen and I believe that he can, with his invisible, mysterious force, alleviate the bad. People say that he is always there, everywhere but I'd rather he were elsewhere, looking down, all-knowing and all-understanding but somewhere much better than the restrictive, physically-bound, potholed streets of Chennai, just for my sake. Of course, he will always be my guardian and confidant but I know, just know, that whatever form he is in, it would be much expanded and much powerful.

Because love is powerful. And love does not die.

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