Sunday, May 16, 2010

45 minutes, 2200 degrees and the End of the Road

Even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh.

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come. - Rabindranath Tagore

Death is the one thing that connects us all. It reminds us that what's really important is who we've touched, how much we've given. It makes us realize that we have to be good to one another.

This Friday night baba (father) passed away. We watched TV and then had dinner together that evening. He went into the toilet and when he was not coming out after 10 minutes, ma (mother) knocked on the toilet door and when after a few knocks there was no response, I got a bit alarmed. I pried open the toilet door and there he was, lying down crouched on the floor. I lay him down very very quickly on the floor and tried his pulse. There was none. Ma by that time has called my Uncle (Jethumoni-my father's elder brother), who lives in the same but now partitioned house. By the time he came (in about 3 minutes) and checked for the pulse and heartbeat, I was sure father was no more there. I then called my wife who was at her parent's place for a few days. She was shell-shocked to hear it and she, alongwith her father and uncle came as fast as they could. By that time, didi and Arpanda (my sister and brother-in-law) had also come. So, did Subhajit and Ram-mama. Between me and ma, we called up most of our relatives and friends to inform them.

I spent a sleepless night my mind in perpetual rewind-and-play mode. The next day (yesterday) went by in a haze. We took him to the crematorium around 9:30 am and after the rituals of "mukhagni" he was put in the electric furnace, which I am told uses 2200 degrees Celsius.

So, after 45 minutes what remained of my father was the unburnt umbilical cord, which is floated away on the Ganges river, and more importantly a lifetime of memories spent with me.

A life spent loving and caring for his family. Where his family always, always came first. Love for perfection, always maintaining a mental checklist. Always reminding me (and others) of the pending tasks. There is so much that I learnt from him. The hunger and yearning for work and to learn new things was always there till the end. Even the last few years, he was trying to understand the stock market from me. He wanted me to open a demat account for him. I used to joke with him that he should first read and understand a few companies and give me some good recommendations!!

In the last few months of his life he derived the greatest pleasure from being with my two-and-a-half year old son. He loved him dearly, always talking about him and trying to teach him something. He used to tell me nearly everyday that it is the most critical to take care of health and wealth. He learnt it the hard way in his life. In his sickness, he has taught me more than I would have ever learnt.

I know today he is not there with me, but I equally know that he is with me. And will remain with me always.

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