Time And Toes
Time tends to erase the most precious memories of the departed but the one memory that will always stay with me are of my dad's toes resting on a coffee table in his bedroom that I could see from where I was sitting in the living room through his door left ajar.
I remember looking at his toes with grief and intense sadness, my world as I had known at the age of twenty four had come to an end. He had been told that he would live no longer than ten years but he never made it beyond a month after the news was delivered to him. Fibrosis of the lungs had him wheezing like an asthma patient and the steroids had weakened his immunity system towards even the smallest viral or bacteria in the air and body.
I still remember that evening - staring at those ten toes, crossed and twitching from time to time. The television was blaring with his favorite show - Saanz - and my mother was sitting with him silently. It was their twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. The house was quiet, we were all quiet, sitting in different rooms and yet thinking the same thing, Why him? Why our family? How were we to deal with this? We were a stoic bunch, never showed our emotions to each other and then more than ever the chasm between us deepened.
I didn't know how to put my arms around him and tell him that I loved him and didn't want him to leave, the very same thing I found myself telling him by his death bed before they pulled him off the ventilator.
I don't like to remember my father the way he was in the hospital or when they bought his body home. Even in death his skin had been baby soft, eyes closed, there had been light pink hue to his skin. I had refused to believe that the shell left behind was my dad. He was gone and so many things between us had been left unsaid.
It's been seven years since his passing and yet we as a family have yet to come to terms with it. Since his death we haven't gone through any family albums, my elder sister refuses to see her wedding video for seeing our energetic dad smiling to the camera makes her cry, my mother a lonely woman lives for the sake of her kids and grumbles about my father leaving her too young.
"He had no business leaving us," she would say. "Why didn't he take care of himself better?" she would ask.
All the ifs, coulds and woulds are aired when we remember him during occasions of difficulties and joy. We miss him still, a lot.
In my mind the clock has come to a standstill - it's his fair pink toes that I miss the most. My mother never ages beyond the age of 51, no matter how many times she tells me that she is now 58, older and greyer. To my mind she is still the age when my father died, 51, the age when she grew older within a day, when they bought him home, dead and departed.
How irrational can my mind be? To remember toes and no more, to think someone remains a certain age forever by default, to change channels when the radio plays old Hindi songs that were his favorites.
Even when we think that we have moved on, the erasing of memories by time only makes the pain a little duller but deeper as we trudge on living the daily hum drum of life.