Hold my hand, Papa

Dear Papa,   

I know you are holding on. Like you always do.    

Keeping up a cheerful front, acting resolute and dauntless with a smile sunny enough to put the sun to shame.  

You are my sun, did you know? How else do you brighten my days and warm my spirit, even if we are miles apart?

Because you are thererooted and stable in my skies, I dare to step into another carefree day.  

As a kid, I thought you were above everythingthe most chaotic circumstances couldn’t touch you. You had me fooled so well. I believed that you had superhuman abilities and that nothing could distress you.  

But then I grew up.

I realised you were human, after all. A human with superhuman abilities to keep a brave front. Now I know that you break inside. Things upset you, haunt you and keep you awake in the night. You worry about us. Your children and our future. You worry about Mother. And you worry about yourself. 

But, at the flash of dawn, you leave your bed and go for that morning exercise. As regular as clockwork. As hard as tapasya. I call it tapasya because I believe tapasya is a deep meditation that armours one with total control over body, speech, thoughts, and emotions. Those hours in the morning you spend training your body and grounding your mind must be no less than a tapasya, I guess, because you come back all controlled and contained. Not a whiff of emotion, even to a wife whose day begins and ends with you. You are the axis around which she rotates. Maybe she never told you so, but that’s how it is. If it were not for you, she’d lose her alignment.   

Despite an austere lifestyle, self-discipline, and spiritual ways that included regular checkups with doctors and a medicine schedule set in stone, the dreaded ‘C’ word came knocking at our door.  

What can I say?  

This is sheer panic for someone like me, who thrives on their sun. I want to run and shut myself in a box. I want to howl and cry. I want to blame myself for having missed a simple screening test that could have detected it earlier. But this is what it is.   

I may run, howl, scream and cry all I want, but would it change anything? Besides, I can’t do it. I know you are watching me. Watching me like a hawk to see if there is anything I am not telling you.  

I know I have to stay strongstand like a pillar for you to lean on when all I want to do is crumble down and never get up.  

How do I do it?  

Over the years, I should have picked up your ways to rein everything in. Life gave us some hard bumps, but you motored on. I wish I learnt that. It’s not that I haven’t seen patients suffering from this before. I have. Many times. But it feels like a vicious, sharp kick in the belly when it is you. Enough to knock me down. Many times, over.  

My trained medical mind is in a frenzy now, conjuring possible scenarios, problems and likely solutions. Seeing it from a doctor’s perspective makes me want to give up everything and run to you. Sit by your side, and never leave.   

How I wish it was that simple.   

Things are tied in knots, and we’ll have to wait for every knot to loosen and unknot itself. Maybe we will have to untangle some of them ourselves. As a daughter, I want to blame God for putting you through this. I want to scream ‘whys’ and shake Him up.   

But I know you wouldn’t want that. Blaming God would never occur to you.   

Unlike you, I am not an expert at tucking emotions in a tight-lidded box. But I know I have to at least try being like you. Think like you. However little. However difficult.   

I must remember that problems appear. Often unannounced and unwarranted. Looming over our heads like dark, turbulent nights with skies clawing at us and thunder threatening to drown us. But can one escape it by complaining or blaming people, God, or oneself? One can reach the other end and see the inevitable dawn by only living through and defeating every terrible moment of the dark, wretched night.  

How I wish we had never encountered it, Papa. How I wish the storms change the path at the nth moment and spare us the nightmare. I wish it wasn’t so hard.  

But it is here now. And there are no options but to trudge through.   

At this moment, when the darkness is ominously close and threatening to swallow us, I don’t want to be a logical doctor or a worried daughter, Papa. I want to be a dreamer. For both of us. I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong. Or if it is possible. But that’s what I want to do.

I want to dream about the dawn as the night steps in. About sunny days, rainbows, and starlit nights. Dream about laughter, giggles, and joyful banterabout seeing new cities, trying different food, and clicking thousands of happy pictures together.   

Hold my hand, Papa, while I dream on. Hold it tight, and we’ll cross this storm in no time. Perhaps my dreams will cajole the storms to show us some mercy.   

Hold my hand, Papa, till the grey clouds disappear and the fog burns away. The rain can’t last forever; the song of the sun is just round the corner.   

Hold on to me, Papa, for I have faith, firmer and fiercer than ever, that even the darkest nights can’t dim my sun’s golden splendour.   



Pic credit- Heike Mintel/ Unsplash

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