I wish you’d stayed.
The coffee is still warm.
Not piping hot though, as you always liked it.
Flawless brown in a vessel of steel.
Sounds a lot like you.
The Hindu is still lying, unfolded-
But of course, when was the last time you saw me read the paper?
Except forcing myself to read when you would insist at the breakfast table.
The table where Amma devotedly made you oothappams and olan.
And for lunch- eriseri, and morkuzhambu.
And then, years later –the karela juice, to help with the diabetes.
But the cake was always me.
The small slices of chocolate cake,
That we had decided not to serve you.
But look, I saved you a piece anyway.
I know how much you love a little dessert when no one’s looking.
No sirree, I never read the paper.
Nor did I read all the emails you sent me dad.
In fact, I didn’t read 193 of them.
Letters from a father to a daughter.
And now I want to.
Cause I still see them, in my inbox. In the folder that says dad.
They are mostly reminders I am pretty sure-
To book tickets home.
To finish something on my to-do list.
To file my taxes.
To send you my itinerary so you can text me at the exact minutes I take off or land.
But I am scared to open them- because I know I will find, in them-
Occasionally, a loving greeting or two.
Some valuable life advice.
A note of pride.
A rare compliment.
A plea to be a little older, a little wiser, a little calmer, a little more accepting
Of life and its wicked ways.
O wicked art thou, sweet breath.
Or, I may find, a not so funny forward,
That probably tickled your great big belly,
And you sent my way,
Chuckling earnestly, your merry eyes crinkled,
And not the unseeing orbs I wish I had never seen.
I will always remember you and your smile.
A joyous smile, that leaps up unabashedly,
And lights up most rooms.
May it could even light up our little black car,
The one whose tail lamps you smashed accidentally,
But told me not to tell mum.
Of course I told her.
We always thought you were a terrible driver.
Singing unconcernedly in traffic,
Or turning around to look at me while driving,
“Don’t look Dad!
“It’s okay kondhe, the car can drive itself.”
“Haha, stop it Pappa!”
And you never did.
Always rushing to get through the reds,
Always too quick to go,
Until one day, you did.
But I can’t stop. Loving you. Missing you.
Double Pyaar was our family’s coat of arms.
A phrase Dad chose.
Amma and Appa love me, Appa and I love Amma, and Amma and I love you.
And now that’s what you have Pops. For the life beyond. For eternity.
Two people, incomplete, learning to be whole
By sharing the love you left behind, and sending it back to you.
All the while.
When I’m in trains, with no one to play book cricket with.
When I’m walking in Lalbagh, no hearty companion to keep pace with me.
When I’m trying to watch a soccer match, with no one to explain what’s really happening on screen.
I only watched FIFA for you. Thank god it was only once in four years. It’s only fun when there are penalty shootouts Dad.
There are so many things we have to do.
Our trip to Switzerland- Mum wants to go for her 60th, and then, maybe an evening in Paris.
Or to Kerala to see the boat races.
To Shenkottai and the fields.
Or even just to Malleswaram, to walk past the little lane you lived in,
The roads you drove your bike on,
As a young hoodlum.
Were you ever though?
Or were you born this way?
A warrior? A giver?
Blood and bone be interred,
You are fire and fight, courage and compassion, love and life.
And you are also my friend.
My oldest friend.
Without you I would have never
learned to tie my shoelaces,
write essays in hindi,
Drive a bike,
be social in a foreign setting,
Have a weird passion for trucks,
Have an inexplicable fondness for Reynolds pens
Tell unnecessary white lies,
Carry business cards (what were you thinking)
That I can’t win an argument with mom and it’s easier not to try,
Love a good song,
do the two step waltz,
Know that being alone is being in good company.
And so i have come to be- alone-but never lonely.
You taught me well.
I may not have the strength to live without you if I hadn’t lived with you.
Ah well, it was a good run. ( Come back)
25 years, was it?
It’s more than some lifetimes. (come back!!)
It’s 5 times 5.
10 and 10.
Its twenty five ones.
It’s 20 and 5 more.
I love you Pappa.
Won’t you come back for your Sunday mornings with me?
I wish you’d stayed.
After all, the coffee is still warm.