death father's day father and daughter

Didn't I Have The Right To See Papa One Last Time?

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

Maybe it was all destined or Karma from my past life.

I was born to a lower-middle-class family where my father was the eldest of his siblings and his father passed away when he was 16. Shouldering all the responsibilities being the firstborn, trying to take care of his old mother and balancing his personal and professional life, he was a very good, honest, and humble man. With all his efforts, he was trying to give a good life to all of us including me, my mom, his mom, his brothers and sisters, and my sister.

Our NEW HOUSE was under construction. Moving from a 2 room government staff quarter to a two-floor bungalow was about to be a dream come true.

I was 5 years and 5 months old, and a super excited kid. We shifted to that new house on May 15, 1993 (I still remember the date and all the tiny details from that day). We were all very happy and were enjoying our lives until we completed the first month there, when that day finally arrived - 15 June 1993.

Morning 8:15 am; as usual, summer vacations were going on, my father was leaving for the office and as a daily routine, one round on his two-wheeler around the society was due. My sister was 4 years old. Both of us would hop on. He left for office around 8:20 am.

As we had newly shifted to the society, our landline phone was still not functional. Around 8:50 am, an old uncle from the neighbourhood came running. I was the one to open the door for him, and I could sense his panic.

He asked me to call an adult. My Grandmother was resting, mom was taking a bath, my uncles had also left for work and the only person available was my father's younger sister. She came out.

Uncle said, "Bete, jaldi gate kholo Prem ka accident ho gaya hai

I still remember that morning. We were shocked. Everyone was panicking and crying. My Grandmother and my mother were rushing to the hospital, and we stayed at home, crying, crying and crying...

A few neighbours came to console us, reassure that he will be okay. Then in the evening, we got to know that an auto-rickshaw hit him from behind on a signal, that too when the signal was red. Was he not wearing a helmet? Yes, he was. There was not a single scratch on his scooter. But he was hit on the head so hard that it caused a brain haemorrhage. 

I heard some people say, "He's in a coma." I was 5 years old. I didn't know what it meant. Others said he'll be fine. Some said he might be bed-ridden, or paralyzed, or brain dead. But I wasn't able to understand any of that. I only wanted my papa to come back and make me on more rounds on his two-wheeler, around the society. I just wanted a normal life like any other kid. 

I remember asking everyone to take me to the hospital just once to see him, but everyone said I was too little to go. They said kids were not allowed. They could only take me on Sunday, when I could see him from afar.

I started waiting for Sunday. And that Sunday came. It was 18-June-1993 (Father's day). I was waiting for the evening just to see him once. There was a surgery scheduled for him on the same day. They were going to remove the blood clot from his brain. 

Then a few maternal relatives came to our new house- the house that we were so excited about! I couldn't understand what was happening, they were all crying and they cleared out the drawing-room to accommodate more people.

Then I heard someone say "Prem is gone."

My heart couldn't accept what I heard. How could this happen? I overheard my mother and grandmother say that us kids shouldn't know about this. That we won't be able to bear the pain. They planned to send us to a neighbour's house that was a little away from ours, so we wouldn't be around when our father's body came back home. Even after I heard that, I don't know why I still agreed to leave. Maybe I didn't want them to bear more pain, knowing that I knew what they were trying to hide from me.

So my sister and I were taken to our neighbour's place. She kept asking me what happened, and I calmly replied, "Nothing."

She asked if papa was coming back and I said, "Yes!". I knew the truth and I was lying to her. 

Our neighbour gave us food to eat. I fed my sister and lied that I wasn't hungry. She went to sleep, and I kept crying silently until eventually, I also fell asleep.

So much for the new house. It took away my father. And now, I'm 34 and I really ask myself- didn't I have the right to see my father one last time?

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