It was June 2014 and I was travelling to my hometown on a weekend. Like always, my family was happy to know that we would be spending time together.
I reached home at aroutravellingM and my father welcomed me warmly at the door. I could see a big smile on his face. We hugged each other and I went inside to meet my other family members.
Though I love everyone in my family, I’ve always been closest to my father.
That night while having dinner, I realized that my father was not eating the way he usually did. He was a big foodie and relished all kinds of dishes be it salty, spicy or sweet. But that night, he ate very less. I noticed it but did not say anything.
After dinner, both of us were taking a walk hand in hand when I asked him, "Papa, what happened? Why were you not eating properly?" He tried his best to ignore my question but I insisted, "Please tell me, Papa.”
He said, "Beta, I have been facing difficulty in swallowing food.” I asked him why had he not mentioned this to anyone in the family till now.
He said, “Nobody noticed it beta and I did not want to bother them.”
I was stunned to hear this. The next morning, I took him to the doctor even though he did not agree initially but ultimately came along, as he could not say no to me.
The doctor did a lot of check-ups and a few tests too. He said that all these tests were being done to identify the problem.
But we were sure that it was just an infection related to the throat.
He said that we could pick up the reports after 2 days. We paid the bills and left the hospital. My father was silent the whole time.
After 2 days, I called the laboratory to collect the reports and they said that I could come and collect them. I went alone as I also had some work near the hospital. I finished my work and reached the hospital.
I was not in a mood but I opened the file. I was shocked to read what was written there. The doctor suspected that my father had throat cancer and he had recommended a biopsy to clear this doubt.
I wanted to tear that paper and throw it away but I gathered myself and headed home.
A thousand thoughts haunted my mind on the way home. What would happen now? How would it happen? What should I do? Should I tell everyone at home, especially my father?
I gathered my courage and decided not to share the report with anyone.
But I had to get my father’s biopsy done. He was a well-educated person and I knew that the moment he heard the word ‘biopsy’, he would understand what was happening. That was my biggest fear.
I could not sleep that night and my father sensed that something was wrong but I pretended that everything was fine.
That night I died a thousand deaths. The morning was just a few hours away, so I finally stood up from my bed and wore whatever I got in my hand and left for home. I was not alone during that travel as a million thoughts kept me occupied.
After a few hours, I reached my city but I didn’t want to reach home because of the worry I was holding with me. With a heavy heart, I reached home.
As I knocked the door, I saw my smiling father in front of me.
He hugged me affectionately and we went inside. As I sat down, my mother offered me tea and some cookies but I could not eat anything. My father asked me if I had collected the reports but I lied that I hadn’t due to my busy schedule. I said that I’d collect in a day or two and he was okay with it.
I went to take a shower, as that was the only place where I could cry my heart out.
I came out of the bathroom, got dressed up and ate some breakfast at my mother's insistence. Then I spoke to my father and suggested that we meet another doctor. After a lot of convincing, he agreed.
With great fear in my heart, we reached the cancer department where it was clearly written "Radiology room".
My father looked at it but did not say anything. He came along with me to meet Dr. Rashid. I had already spoken to the doctor and requested him not to say anything in front of my father. The doctor spoke in that manner but I knew my father.
I could see that he was trying to read between the lines and he understood everything.
He agreed to come for a session with the doctor next week. We came out of the doctor's cabin but I stopped my father and asked him to wait for a minute. I rushed to Dr. Rashid and asked him a simple question, "Can you cure my father?"
The doctor smiled and said, "Cure is a complex word when it comes to cancer but I will try my best.”
I thanked him and ran towards my father. Both of us were silent on the way back home.
My mother served us food but I could not eat much. I did not want to stay back at home because I did not have the courage to face my father and talk to him about the situation.
We spoke to each other through the pain that was clearly visible in our eyes.
My father sensed that I was hiding something, which he could relate to the Radiology room in the hospital. I told my mother that I had to leave for Noida and would be back after 3 days (For the next appointment with the doctor).
My father asked my mother to pack lunch for me. I took the box and picked up my bag. I did not want to look at my father but I had to say bye before I left.
He held my hand in his hand and said, "Beta please pray for me.”
Upon hearing his words, my eyes welled up with tears but I controlled them. I turned my face and left the house. When I sat in the cab to the bus stand, I finally let the tears flow. My heart felt very heavy.
I desperately wanted to save my father and do everything I could to cure him. God and the doctors were my only hope.
After 2 days, at about 4 a.m., I got a call from my house. I looked at the time on the watch and then at my phone. I did not want to pick up the call but I managed somehow. It was my brother.
He was sobbing and said," Nanu, please come… our father is not responding.” I hung up the phone and was silent for almost 40 minutes.
My father did not even wait for the treatment; he left us before that.
I don't know how I reached home. When I got there, my father was lying on the bed with a smile on his face but this time, he didn’t hug me. I fell to the floor. My whole world came crashing down.
It’s been close to 3 years now but I still remember how I felt during those last days of my father's departure. I’ll never forget his last words, "Beta please pray for me.”
Trust me, it has been 3 years since he left for heaven but I pray for him every day and night.
No matter where he is, my prayers are always with him. It is really painful to see your loved one dying in front of your eyes and you can't do anything about it.
Departures are always painful; I realized it very late.
He was the most wonderful person I have ever met and he has taught me so many things for which I remember him every time. I know that he must also be looking at me and smiling like always but I miss his hugs.
Sometimes, I just want to see "Papa calling" on my phone; I just want to hear his hello.
Papa, I love you a lot and miss you with every heartbeat. You will always be in my heart and prayers.