THE GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH

I am home. Movie Marathon is in progress. The fourth has just got over. I ordered my dinner online. I haven’t ventured outside all day. I am all cuddled and blanketed in my rabbit hole, oblivious to the happenings outside, with the torrential rain making it an easy decision to not have to step outside.

Yet, despite all that, I still know what day it is. What occasion today is. Thanks to Facebook.

Its Fathers Day today. I don’t even know what that means. My FB feed is swamped with messages and photos marking the day. People who rarely utter a word wake up from their slumber once a year (twice, if you count Mothers’ Day!), share a long story on what Dads mean, how they sacrifice themselves for you and your family and go on and on about how much they love them. Thank You for opening my eyes, all. Now, instead of staying glued to your systems and mobiles, go spend some time with your Dads for a change!

Publicizing someone’s love for another and announcing it to the world (unless it was previously unknown!) has always sort of annoyed me. It kinda beats the point. Its like telling the world “Hey, don’t you love your parents? Post stuff on FB if you do; if you don’t, it means you don’t love them…” Right. I knew pre-FB children never loved their parents.

Fundamental lesson, guys! Every day is Parents’ Day and Children’s Day. Anyone believing otherwise is kidding themselves!

But since everyone out there is out sharing a story, here’s mine. A tale from long ago.

My Mom had been admitted to the hospital. I was in Grade 4 or 5 at the time. Not too young that I couldn’t comprehend why Mom had to stay for a while at the hospital, yet not too old that I was able to stop my eyes from wetting itself every other minute.

I did not know what the ailment was. I know it was a cyst of sorts in her armpit, a swelling that needed to be removed before it grew to dangerous proportions. And that she needed to be operated on immediately. But that’s all I knew. How serious was the swelling? I don’t know. How risky was the operation? No idea. How long would she be away? When would she be back? We did not know.

I was 9 at the time. My world had 3 people – the friends circle did not count. At that age, everyone’s dependent on their Mom; in my case, I was overly dependent, a situation that exists even today. Anything and everything needed Mom’s approval.

Amme, what shall I study today?

Amme, I can’t find my English Notebook.

Amme, I don’t understand whats being taught at school.

Amme, where is the ID Card?

Amme, where’s my tie?

Amme, can I play for 30 mins?

Amme, please tie my shoes.

Amme, I don’t want to sleep now.

Acha… where’s Amma?/

It was then, a horrific feeling to wake up in the morning and not feel her presence around. There was no usual rush and hurrah-burrah. Sure, we needed to act quick; go through the morning chores, ensure we had all our stuff ready and be on time for the school bus. My brother and I were thoughtful enough to ensure that we were up early and that things happened as they normally would if Mom was around.

Yes, despite being as disciplined as the two of us were, naturally, we did feel Amma’s absence. She was the pivot in the house, the fulcrum around which everyone revolved. And this was no slight on my Dad. Achan was more reserved, more reactive, more casual. Amma was hyperactive and on top of everything – kinda like how Achan was at office. That activity was definitely missing and though we did get things done, the usual efficiency was missing. The home was missing a girl’s touch, maybe.

But Amma’s absence told me more about Achan than I ever got to know before or since.

It was in those 2 weeks that I realized the truth behind all these stories that I see on FB now. About sacrifice, about love, about caring, about belonging. I woke up every morning those 2-3 weeks with Achan absorbed in the kitchen preparing breakfast and tea/milk for the three of us, ironing our morning uniforms, polishing our shoes and essentially performing every task that Mom and Dad used to do together. We would get up, get ready, get dressed and be off to school while Dad would hastily rush off to office, waving to us as we boarded the school bus.

A depressing feeling prevailed as we came back home in the afternoon. Dad would be off to the kitchen again and quickly prepare rice and some side-dish. My brother and I would sit around him and he would feed us both and send us off to sleep. We woke up in a couple of hours, at which point, Dad would leave for office again, giving us instructions on what to do and calling us every 20 mins to ensure all was well at home.

Later in the evening, we would get dressed, he would come over and we would hire a taxi to Jimi Hospital to see Mom. At the hospital, Dad would buy each of us a Pepsi, leave us out on the large, deserted and dimly-lit lobby, give us instructions and go off to meet the doc and see if it was okay to see Mom now. If it wasn’t, he would come back, sit with us and listen to what was happening at school, enquiring about exams and tests and we would share everything with him. When it was time, we would be led upstairs to Mom’s ward. She would be lying on the bed all draped in the hospital uniform. Chettan would try to put on a brave face, while I would go all teary-eyed and make an honest attempt to stop wailing, simply because Achan would have said “Don’t cry in front of Mom; it would only upset her…”

It was the same routine everyday. The lingering images I have in my mind now are of the noiseless house and the dark hospital lobby, Chettan and I sitting in a corner, drink in hand, discussing what the differences were between Coke and Pepsi. And of Achan. In the kitchen, at the office, in the hospital. Rushing from one department to another for records, documents, medicines and what not. Its sweet yet scary and depressing at the same time. The distinct clinic smell, the sight of patients, medicines, crutches and wheelchairs and the occasional ambulance, siren et all.

And when I think of it now, that’s when I began to not take my parents love for granted. Until that age, you expect your parents love you like its your birthright. You want them to treat you nice, satisfy your every wish – most of which were frankly, ridiculous – buy you your favorite chocolate, play your favorite game and basically spoil you. And yet, if you feel irritated for some reason – and for the record, I have an infamous track record for being a very short-tempered and annoying kid – you begin to wail and moan and scream and throw a tantrum.

Those 2 weeks opened my eyes. To say I did not know that my parents loved me was obviously wrong. I loved them, I valued them, I missed them when they weren’t around. But this was probably when my little mind realized that they would go depths for me and make all the sacrifices they could for me. For us. I think of all the struggles that Dad and Mom went through those days and since.  And that was probably the first time that I began to understand and acknowledge their love.

I don’t need a day to announce my love to my parents. I don’t need to earmark a day to let them know that they are invaluable to me. I don’t need a reminder that their constant presence in my life is what fills my life with peace and joy. This is not from the bottom of my heart, Mom and Dad. This is from all of it. I may hurt you. I may be frustrated with you. Hell, I may not even answer your calls or reply to your messages. But, you are the first people who come to mind when I am in distress. I think of you when I am in trouble and all pain ceases to exist. And its no exaggeration. Sure, I cant stay home all day. I need a life, a career, a mini-family of my own, but put all these in the same bowl and ask me to pick one, I’ll pick the two of you over everything else. Now and forever.

Lets live long and prosper, Mom and Dad. And lets show that we love each other with all our heart.

And to all you sons and daughters out there, don’t wait for a day to tell your parents that you love them. They are the greatest gift life has to offer (even in a world with KFC and Coca-Cola!). Cherish these moments while they last. And thank the Heavens that you are blessed to have them in your life.

I love you, Mom and Dad….

  • Your Darling, Smart, Incredibly-Handsome Son! (Not the elder Mandan, the younger one!)