April 12, 2015, close to 10.30 a.m, a nurse knocked the door and told me I was called to the Medical Intensive Care Unit of the Medical College Hospital, where my 84-year-old father was undergoing a really painful course of treatment for his diabetes-induced kidney failure and the resultant multiple organ collapse for seven long days. He had earlier been in and out of hospital for over a month.
When the doctor told me that my father had suffered a cardiac arrest a few minutes ago and was no more, all I said was: “So, he has escaped all that pain?”
Did I weep that moment? No.
I felt shockingly relieved that his “torture” was finally over. “Please ask them not to torture me,” his words – between sleep and wakefulness, amid groans two days before he passed on – had left my heart bleeding ever since. And for two painfully-long days, I tried pleading with doctors not to put any more needles into his red, swollen body, with endless needles and tubes sticking out from every possible spot – if they could not administer painkillers or sedatives alongside. They insisted his weak body could not take painkillers and dialysis was the only course of treatment to keep him alive, so they could try and treat him for the urinary/blood infection he had!
I tried to convince them that if administering pain was all they had to offer in the name of treatment for someone on the verge of death – I knew he would go any day, I believe they did too – it was a pointless direction they were heading. They said that was what they HAD TO medically do! It made me feel so USELESS.
The last time he spoke to me cheerfully was a month and a half ago, when he was unwell, in a hospital bed, but in a better condition. Back then, he had many bad days, but definitely some good days. His face lit up and his arms closed me in as he lay there exhausted and in pain but conscious. His lips spoke clearly and lovingly.
“See, my little daughter is here, my little daughter is here.”
The affection in those words was priceless. It made me realise that he too saw me as I really were. I had never ever grown beyond the five-year old me mentally. Though caught in a 45-plus body, my soul forever remained scared, stranded, lost, as confused as I used to be at the age of about four or five.
Achan (Dad), if you can read this or hear my soul speak, I want to say; I am really truly sorry for the many times I have disappointed you perhaps, disobeyed you, disgraced you. But now you also can see-I hope-I was LOST, each time, every time I did something wrong, inappropriate. I was only trying to fit in initially, then break free, desperate to find myself, feel accepted, loved the way you did love me when I was the tiny girl you walked to the temple YEARS ago.
Please guide me, drop hints in my dreams, maybe we can still communicate, telepathy, some signs, clues, influence my thoughts somehow. I need you to tell me when I am wrong, stop me before I mess up things, people. I still do not know which path to walk, when to stop walking, when to sleep, when to wake up, when to weep and when to laugh. I am still your little girl, I need you, every wakeful moment, and other times.
We will sit down and have a long chat someday, when my time comes to leave this body and meet you, at leisure. Then, I will explain, every wrong thought I ever had, every wrong word I ever uttered and every wrong turn I ever took in my life’s journey. I know you will understand and forgive me, unconditionally, as you always do. Till then, stay close, stay safe, stay happy. Love you achan…