I am missing my dad again!
They say that daughters are always attached to their fathers and sons to their mothers. Something to do with Oedipal Attraction. I totally agree. I always was close to my father. Still am.
My dad, Capt Sandeep Rathod was in 36 Rajasthan Rifles and was deployed in Jammu region. He rarely got approved leaves of absence and visited us once a year. We always looked forward to those precious 15 days of his company. I did what I always did whenever I missed him. I found his bundle of letters, which he regularly wrote to me and picked out one at random, dated three weeks ago. There’s a mystic quality in these hard copy letters which emails and live pings lack! May be, it’s the personal touch or the idea that the person has taken the trouble to write something, especially for us… It touches the chords of emotions. Once again, I read it through…
Was just reading your last letter for the umpteenth time. It always reminds me of your continuous chatter. The constant prattling in your letters give me the eerie feeling of being with you and soothes me in the desolation of these impregnable and proud mountains.
‘It’s quite cold here. In winters the temperature falls to 48 degrees below zero. I see your oval face in the whiteness abroad! I believe that in spite of its ethereal whiteness, the snow isn’t fairer than your face. I remember your screeches when I reduce the temperature of AC to 16 degrees and am warmed by the irritated expression on your face. Haha!’
I smiled and looked towards the AC we bought last year. It was struggling to maintain the status quo with the June heat, and losing the battle.
‘Ananya, do you still write those little poems of yours? Those quaint ones with a Japanese name? Haiku? I have kept a few you sent. I can’t say that I understand the full beauty of them. You know? I always thought that being from an older generation, I couldn’t understand this new style of poetry till one of my adjutants came by them and literally swooned after reading. He told me that this isn’t a new-fangled thing and is an ancient style of Japanese poetry, which was preferred by samurai during 2nd circa AD! He explained me the calculations of syllables and still I failed to understand. May be, like a finger pointing to the moon, I focussed on the finger and missed the beauty of the Opal Moon! I was more focussed on the grammar and calculations, than the essence of your innermost explosions! Trust you to love such a deep and mystic thing! Wow! You are so young and so old! I’m so old and so young! That’s why I always said that you are my mom!’
I laughed happily! I could imagine my clownish father trying and failing to grasp one of the oldest styles of poetry, whose complexity lays in its simplicity. I loved the lines Old and young, young and old! He unintentionally summed up the ancient Zen theory of Yin Yang. A soft mango has a hard seed embedded within the flesh of its rind. The old have a child within and the young have a grave old person hidden. I felt a surge of love towards the best father in the world. Don’t know why the corners of my eyes were wet.
‘Just returned from mess. I don’t know who coined the term ‘Mess’ for the army food cafeteria, but whoever did, used tautology. It’s really a holy mess! I got a chicken, which could have been an athlete in its prime and died of acute old age. Anyway, let’s keep the gastronomical discussions for those long evenings, when you cuddle up to me and ask for the tales of war. I think, we fight a bigger war for food than any enemy outside of our own realm! I still have my old love, you know? Maggi.’
My dad could never cook anything else. He proudly proclaimed that he was an expert in Maggi and omelet during his hostel days of engineering. I vouch for it.
I looked at his old photograph which was kept at my bedside table. It was of a handsome young man in his early 20s, resplendent in a dress uniform of a Captain of Rajasthan Rifles. It was his pic, when he was 24 years old. He looked so handsome in it! In my second year science, I discovered that genetics goes cross. Male is crossed to female and female to male. Boys look like their mothers and girls like their fathers. I’m proud to be the daughter of such a guy, who wasn’t only beautiful physically, but was a prince at heart! A goofy, little absent-minded, loving and sweet father any daughter can dream of! My eyes were wet. But, they always are, whenever I miss my dad!
‘I love the tales of your office, Ananya. Are you really able to troubleshoot internet servers? And to imagine, I have trouble figuring out how to operate my Facebook account! I just can’t believe that my little angel has grown up so! I never cease to wonder if anyone can be blessed with such happiness!
‘Chal! C ya! I am stuck here in a time warp. Some day I will meet you and then will discuss how I missed the light of my eyes! Always thought that ‘without you my world is dark’ is a term of speech and a cliché. But, it’s really dark here without your scintillating smile, Ananya! Miss you, my doll!
Today is Father’s Day. I never believed in this American concept of celebrating days for your loved ones. For me, everyday is a Father’s Day. Today is 21st of June. It’s raining heavily. Bombay monsoon is famous for its cranky unpredictability. It is raining through my eyes too. Through the curtain of tears I looked at the old photograph which was kept at my bedside table. I turned 28 this May, older than he was in this picture. He will never meet me now. How can a 24 years old father meet a 28 years old daughter? He would forever remain 24. Death has ensured that.
My dad laid his life for country on 21st June, 1999, during the war of Kargil, when I was 8 years old. But, he’s always present with me in spirit. Joshing me, encouraging me, egging me on to dominate the world!
Professor Sigmund Freud was partially right about his Theory of Oedipal Complex. A son may not love his mom forever, but a daughter will always love her dad. Even beyond the veil!
I sighed, wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and picked up the pen to write another letter.
I know that you are sad, my doll! …’