My father passed away on 19 December 2021, at 1:20am. My life hasn’t been the same ever since. Here’s how I’ve been trying to deal with everything and if you ever have to face such a situation, hopefully this will help. This essay is more personal than usual.
There are certain events in life, after which, everything changes irreversibly. There’s no way to get back to the old way of things. For me, it when I got the call from the hospital.
The first call came at 12:43am. “We’ve some bad news. His heart has stopped working. There’s no sign of life. We are trying CPR to revive him. We’ll call you again in 15 mins.”
We didn’t get the next call until 1:27am. My mother, my partner, and I were waiting in absolute dread. These were the worst 45 mins of my life.
The funny thing is that I was still hopeful. I still believed that my father would fight back and revive. It was such a hopeless situation that I had nothing but hope to lean on. False hope! Naive hope! But hope, nonetheless.
By the time the second call had ended, I realised that there’s no way to turn back from that moment. My life will be divided into two parts from then on. The time when I have a father, and the time I don’t.
That moment marked the beginning of the life where I don’t have a father and my mother doesn’t have a husband. It was an ‘irreversible’ moment. Thenceforth everything was going to be about how we deal with this.
When you lose a loved one all of a sudden, the information registers logically but not emotionally. You know that this person is no more but your habits, reactions, behaviours aren’t attuned of the new way of things. Somebody tells you something and suddenly you think, “I should tell him this” only to realise that this can’t happen. It’s a very sad realisation.
Time takes care of this, but time is a double-edged sword. Time takes care of the pain but time also makes you forget your memories. You don’t remember everything about the person after a couple of years, and very little after a decade.
Time doesn’t heal the pain, time erases the memory. This is the real tragedy, not the passing of a loved one.
I don’t want it this way. I would rather cherish his memory, inculcate the traits I admire in him, and keep him alive — not as a memory, but as an idea. Ideas, unlike memories, live forever.
My father was a simple man but he had some unique traits that made him extremely likeable which in turn gave him a lot of advantages.
Following are my favourite lessons that I constantly try to emulate. I believe they don’t work alone, and instead build up on top of one another as a package.
- Be authentically humble: I had heard my father say this on multiple occasions that he has gotten way more than he deserves or is capable of in this life. I dunno if it’s true but that’s not important. What important is that he believed in it with all his heart. This belief kept him extremely humble, and people loved him for that. Over the years I’ve heard countless people say something like, “Your father is among my favourite people in the world.” I believe it’s only because he was a genuinely humble person, from the bottom of his heart. There was no trickery. Authentic humility sure has its benefits. It kills ego and makes you a better human being.
- Don’t talk behind someone’s back: There’s a saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” My father never said anything bad about anybody, at least not publicly. If he had to give strong feedback, he gave that privately. He didn’t gossip about others, not even within his closest circle. Over the years, this garnered him tremendous trust and respect. This trait set him completely apart from others. Knowing they won’t be judged, folks were genuinely honest with him. People love to gossip, especially about other people. It’s tempting. But not giving into this urge can make people feel safe with you.
- Don’t shy away from asking for help: My father is the biggest hustler I know. Trust me, anyone who has met him even once would realise that he wasn’t even close to being one. Yet I’ve often noticed people going out of their way to help him out. He’s a nice person, yes, but another unique trait about him was he never hesitated to ask for advice or help from others — not only in important matters such as which hospital should be best for my mother’s eye surgery, but even in trivial matters such as what colour of light bulb would be good for the washroom. This made people feel important and useful. It also increased their liking for him and they naturally loved helping him out.
- Don’t worry too much: For a typical middle class person, my father knew how to have fun. He dressed extremely well. He loved to travel. He took good care of his health. More than everything, he was always relaxed. My mother often blamed him for being way too much relaxed. And she wasn’t wrong. But I believe he remained relaxed because he was always prepared. His finances were in place. He never took any undue risks. He was disciplined and responsible. He tried to do right by everybody. This gave him a sense of freedom to relax and take it easy in the rest of the things. He knew what was in his control. He ignored what wasn’t.
- Enjoy the little things: This was a man who took a tonne of pleasure in the simplest of things: a nice cup of black coffee, a quick chat with friends, watching a TV show with family, having a plate of potato fries, etc. He took his time to enjoy them deliberately. In no real hurry, he put his mind into enjoying everything he did throughout the day, even if it was cleaning the toilet. This made him a joyous person. He loved and enjoyed living. You could see that in his face. That’s why people enjoyed being around him so much.
I miss my father. I miss him everyday. When he was at the hospital I visited him everyday. It was hard to see him like that. I cried everyday. But I haven’t cried since he has passed. Even though I miss him a lot and wish he were here, I still force myself to see the bright side and cherish his life the way he lived.
Even if our loved ones leave this world, they don’t have to leave our hearts. I don’t believe my father has left us — me and my mother. He might not be with us physically, but his lessons, his love, his teachings, his advice, are with us. Always!