Two weeks. That’s when the ‘official’ mourning comes to a close, when all is said and done and everyone has come to visit and gone, and we contemplate upon what has just happened.
The time period makes sense, perhaps, but still, the loss does not. It has been over two weeks since that frantic flight here, mentally willing the plane to fly faster than it already was in the full knowledge that people have taken flights like this before, some of them worse.
In the past two weeks, emotions have been like a strange staccato tsunami. In quick, short, huge and painful waves that are almost musically punctuated. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Morse-esque. Now there, and now not. Hitting with the force of a thousand small waves and poking me each time.
In the past two weeks, those emotions have raged from extreme anger and that all-too-familiar blinding rage, your blinding rage that I so amusingly inherited, to a deep and inexplicable sadness, to utter helplessness at the inability to change anything at all.
We had our perfect little family of three plus two, that five years ago dwindled to three plus one, that now has dwindled to two plus one. Within those sums, there are permutations and combinations, thoroughly undesired ones.
And in those sums there is anger. We were due that next beer, that wildlife trip. We were due the homemade chicken wing recipe I wanted to teach you, the home improvement you wanted to teach me. We were due yet another of our many plates of biryani eaten sitting on the floor of my apartment, cursing at yet another cricket match, both of us stopping only to shout “IDIOT!” at the next dropped catch, at the next unnecessary wicket.
It’s IPL season now, my first without you. Every year will be yet another missed IPL date with you, gearing up with our favourite drinks and snacks 45 minutes before the opening ceremony, both of us frantically scrambling and sending each other text messages as we prepared for the big dramatic opening.
Even more recently, your calls to me just to shoot the breeze and tell me to get Bira and watch the match with you, watch Hardik Pandya because you thought he had ‘so much potential’ – all those plans unfulfilled, but I shall watch the guy play with a smile on my face now.
As I think of all the times I couldn’t sleep because of your loud (really, really loud) snoring and whined “Appa, please don’t snore,” I realise I would do anything to hear you snore again, just to hear you breathe. But I can’t. I am powerless. As I try to stifle my own tears, I ache for you to see me cry, as you always have, and put my head on your lap and stroke my hair and say “Anu ma, don’t cry” one last time and bail me out of every situation, like you always have.
Instead, the situation now is life without you. Some days so far it is difficult, some very. The cricket season adds a special, and incredibly painful, irony.
I learned from my father a love of a) fitness b) yoga c) eating healthy, often obsessively, d) good food e) home improvement and so on and so forth. I saw your love for me in the smallest of things – using home tips I gave you, and never, ever using a wallet that I hadn’t gifted you.
Today of all days I miss the smallest of things. Our constant comparisons of our matching eyes. Our matching hairy misshapen toes. Our matching black curls that became salt and pepper for you, and will likely do so for me too.
I will forever miss the smell of talcum powder, and every time I mash my lips together with lipstick on, I will remember every single time you would hold me up to the mirror in the old house and imitate me and laugh.
After years and years of begging you for a dog, playing with every dog on the street and despite ma being a little scared of dogs at the time, we came back from that one car ride with a wonderful black labrador puppy squealing on my lap – way back in 1998. Our darling Joey.
You did not just teach me – you lived the fact that no man is different from a woman. Working is not a ‘man’s thing’, nor is cooking a woman’s. You were always the one in the house who loved to cook to the point of shooing everybody else out – as I do now.
As I attempt to do the things we often did just together, I try to hold that immense, broken grief in and try to push myself to realise this is not just a vacation or a temporary thing – it’s for life.
And still, you leave me as you made me – strong, able to take on anything and everything the world throws, and has thrown at me with my head held high.
Every bite of a chip we both liked, every persuading glance to share junk food on vacation – glances only the two of us shared – those will remain with me for life, as will the wonderful, wonderful memories you left me with – now tinged with immense pain that I can only hope may dull over time as I hear your voice, always, in my head, patting my head in that rhythm only you had.
I’d give anything, as of this very moment, to see Appa calling on my phone and hear you on the other end – but painfully, helplessly, and ever so angrily, I realise that is something I cannot do anymore.
To the only man who could put me to bed at night with stories of hotel fires and parachuting daredevils and video cassettes of our favourite Mother Goose cartoons – Red parachute, green parachute to you too, Appa. I will love you always and a lifetime.