RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #115 Clouds&Sunshine

Dark clouds fill the sky

The sun parts wet, dark rain clouds

Sunshine filters through.

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RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #115 Clouds&Sunshine

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To my Father with Love

My father grew up in a small town where my grandfather was the Headmaster of the Municipal High school. My grandmother passed away when my father was only twelve years old. We used to ask him to share with us memories of his childhood. His remembrances about his mother and about the years of childhood were happy ones. His father, elder brother and two elder sisters formed his life with abiding love.

He excelled in studies, and got a job in the Indian Railways. But, life was not easy for him. In his twenties and later in his thirties he was afflicted with spinal tuberculosis, and was confined to the hospital for long periods of time. He learned to be patient. It must have been very difficult for a young man to be required to stay in bed for a full year. His interest in life led him to see this an opportunity to learn tatting and knitting.  I learned tatting from him. He was surrounded by love, and that must have made a lot of difference. My mother tells me that my grandfather used to go daily to the hospital, and be with him the whole day. I was an infant and my mother had to stay at home. We lived that whole year with my father’s elder brother and his family.

My father recovered, and life went on. He had started working in the Indian Railways in 1958. My parents got married the next year. In the course of his career he was transferred to different places. We were together always. Our childhood was spent in different parts of our country but every summer vacation we used to come to our maternal grandparents’ home in a small town in South India. Those two months were a strong foundation for our lives. We learned to love and enjoy the company of all our relatives. We move on in life, and there are so many changes, but those memories stay with us.

My paternal grandfather lived alternately with his two sons, dividing the year between them. This went on till he passed away in 1980. My grandfather’s presence in our family was another formative element in our lives. He used to read aloud stories to us. Even now I can see him sitting and reading to us. That love for books has been passed on to the generations that followed him.

After my father retired in 1986, my parents settled in the  small town where my maternal grandparents were living. My parents made it a point to be with their children and grandchildren for a little while every year. Their love was a strong presence in the life of the family.

Last year, at the age of 84, my father fell ill. My parents were with us for almost two months. My father was hospitalized during this time. In the third week of October he expressed a strong desire to be with his elder son because he felt that he did not have long to live. His reason to travel to his son’s home was that he wanted to breathe his last there and not at his daughter’s place. In India, unfortunately, sons are given greater importance than daughters. People still believe that parents should live with their sons and their families.

In February this year, my father became bedridden. My younger brother is a geriatric psychiatrist. On his advice, the family decided that my father should not be hospitalized, but should be cared for at home. Here, hospitals subject the elderly to long and energy-sapping  medical procedures. We wanted to protect him from this invasive treatment. We also felt that he should be given love and all possible care at home. My brother had engaged the services of home nurses to assist them with the daily care. The people who helped us showed extraordinary devotion to their old patient.

Very early on the 19th of this month he took his last breath . My mother, brother, sister-in-law and niece were by his side at the end, holding his hands. The love that his family gave him sustained him from the beginning of his life to the very end, through all the difficulties that he had to face.

The Bhagavad Gita was his strength. He used to read certain chapters every day and often used to explain to us some  shlokas. The 20th shloka of Chapter 2 says,  “This Self is never born nor does it die; it is not something that having been born, It again ceases to be; unborn, eternal, and everlasting, this ancient One is not killed when the body is killed.”

appa

Waiting

I meet her almost every day and every time she tells me her brother will come to see her the next day. She has been there for more than five years and is a life member. Her brother and his family have paid the money and believe she is no longer their responsibility. In a way, she is no longer their responsibility but can family ties break so easily? It has broken easily for them but not for her. She remembers her brother every day but he has never come to see her. We have many festivals in our country and they are an important part of our lives. During these festivals many there go home to be with their family. They are happy about it. But no one has ever come to take her home. We wonder about the behavior of her brother. Why cannot he understand that she would love to go home with him during festivals? The least he could do is visit her twice a year and take her out for lunch. But he does not understand and he never comes. It is sad. And every time she tells me that her brother would come the next day, I feel like banging something on his head to bring him to his senses. She is always waiting.

That reminds me of a beautiful song from a beautiful old Hindi movie, Bandini. It is about newly married girls waiting for their brothers to come to their home. It is a song which touches the heart. We all wait for something or the other from birth to death.

I remember the days when we were waiting for our grandchild to be born. Life changed when we saw our grandson for the first time. Now we are waiting for the end of October when he and our daughter will be coming for a month. He is three now. 🙂

Of all the different types of waiting, I think the most tragic is waiting for death. A few months ago I read books by Jennifer Worth. They are some of the best books I have read till now. In one of them she writes, “It does not really matter what you think or believe. Death comes for us all. How, when and where we die has always been a game of chance. Our determination to control it has not loaded the dice in our favour. Did anyone ever imagine that it would?” Most of us pray that we should just leave but who knows what is in store for us? Suppose we have to wait for a long, long time for death? Not all are lucky enough to remain healthy, physically and mentally, till the end. There will be changes, changes in our thinking and we may become helpless and dependent. It helps a lot if we are lucky to be surrounded by a loving family. Waiting does not become merely waiting when we have the support of our family. Sadly many have to wait all alone. Jennifer Worth has written, “many a time the tragedy of old age is loneliness and not the surroundings.” Being lonely and waiting for release from life seems so very tragic. One may be alone but need not be lonely. But that waiting might change us. We will never know till we reach that stage in life. It is good to live in the present but thoughts of the future do come to mind at unexpected moments.

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.” ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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( Sunset )