Oh captain, my captain!

“Ghano kharcho na karje maara uppar” (don’t spend too much money on me), dad said when I was talking to him randomly one day about death and last rites. There was earnestness in his eyes and yet, I dismissed it as another one of his rants on being frugal, and not wasting money.

Over the course of the next few months, his cancer progressed rapidly. The doctor gave him a month to live when we found out. “Stage 4, terminal”, the doctor said. Nine months later, dad and I were having the same conversation on frugality. By then, I had already spent a considerable amount of time with him, coming down to Bangalore twice in a span of four months. In those moments, he had given us access to all his bank accounts, and made us nominees everywhere. Set his affairs in order.

I always looked up to dad for his patience, and resilience. He was my totem pole, my North Star in all its shining brilliance. What does one do when they lose their guiding light in life? I find it so difficult to not be able to do anything at all in this situation. Dad’s passing away is a kind of finality I have never experienced. The helplessness is unnerving.

Dad was one of the most resilient people I know. A mild-mannered, soft-spoken person who was made to become an entrepreneur. He stuck it out even though it was evident as day that he didn’t have it in him to be cut-throat and ruthless. The odds were always stacked against him. A South Bombay boy, stuck in the outskirts of Bangalore, he didn’t know the local language, the local culture, didn’t have friends or his extended family with him; and yet he went to his shop daily for 22 years. For reasons best known to him, he didn’t quit. Dad was also practical and understanding. He was gentle — I only remember getting slapped by him once, for which he apologised the next day — and kind.

He loved us dearly. Every time I returned to Bangalore for my annual holidays, his hug would be the tightest and longest. I will also deeply cherish our weekend facetime sessions where we talked about everything under the sun. He was intellectual and had an articulate opinion on everything — which always differed from mine. This always made these sessions more interesting.

Thank you for everything, Daddy. You will always be remembered.

I know that time heals. As I wait for the process with patience and resilience, I keep telling myself one thing, “ghano kharcho na karje” (don’t spend too much money).

P.S. Thanks for reading this. I’ve spent 3 weeks trying to finish this post, but it has been difficult. My father passed away on 26 April 2016. I know he is somewhere up there, still looking out for us.

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