Samantha woke up with a jolt.
It took her sometime to regain her bearings. She was in a plane headed to India. It wasn’t long before a phone call from India had shaken her life.
Her father was ill.
Samantha prided herself on being an independent practical woman. She had graduated with honours and recruited by a leading company to work. With two years she moved to a better job in Australia. That was six years back. From a high flying career to a loving relationship, she had it all. Nothing in her life could shake the perfect harmony that was her life. It all changed with that one phone call.
As she looked out from the plane window into the blistering sky dotted with cotton candied clouds, she thought of what awaited her.
Samantha thought of the relationship she shared with her father. It was not exactly ideal. They never really had a conversation. She never told him about her life and he never shared his with her. Their life was caught in the endless toil of work and making ends meet. There was always this space between them that seemed unsurpassable. He had dedicated his life taking care of his family with no complaints or regrets. He had surrendered his dreams in line of his duties. The concept was not something she could ever apprehend. In fact, the very reason she had worked so hard to move out was so she can escape the same fate.
She let out a jaded sigh.
She thought of the time last time she had seen her old guy. It was six years ago. He had dropped her to the airport as he always did. She remembered him taking her to college on her first day. She remembered him driving her to her first interview. She remembered him walking her to the bus stop every day, day after day, and waiting there until he saw her board it. She remembered his eyes watering when she walked into the airport, without glancing back, leaving her father standing alone on the other side of the railing. There was not much exchange of words; there never was, but there was an understanding, a ritual if you will, that spoke much louder than words.
Her heart ached. She never really understood him. She never really told him she loved him. Was it too late now?
This was her father. A man who had silently stood by her, with her, through her entire life without asking for anything in return, a man who fulfilled every whim and fancy of his little daughter even before it left her lips, a man who sacrificed every dream he ever had so his little girl can live hers. This was the man who loved her with all his heart despite being unappreciated. This was the man who taught her to love unconditionally.
Samantha walked with heaviness in her stride. She was carrying a piece of paper in her hand. It was a letter. She slowly makes her way into the ICU, her steps cautious not to wake the old frail man in the bed. He was sleeping. On the first glance his face looked content. Only Samantha could through it. Only she could see that it was a face of a man waiting. Waiting for his little angel to walk through that door and call him ‘papa’. It was the face of a man who just couldn’t let go without seeing the piece of his soul he was about to leave behind in this world.
Tears rolled down Samantha’s eyes. She silently slid the letter under his pillow and purposefully sat next to him. Today she was going to wait for him just as he had, for years, waited for her.
Samantha gently takes his hand in hers. She looked on while the machines around continued to beep rhythmically. A single drop of tear rolls out of his wrinkled eye, falling on the light blue pillowcase. He doesn’t open his eyes. He doesn’t need to. He knew his daughter was near him. He knew his little girl was close to him. Fathers always know.
She sat there quietly holding on to her man. The shadows on the wall got longer as the dusk set in.
There was not much exchange of words; there never was.
Often I remember the days when you would walk me to the bus stop and walk back all on your own just to spend some time with me; often I remember the days when you would drive your bike braving rain and traffic to pick me up after my evening out with friends without ever expecting a thanks in return; often I remember sitting on the porch complaining about every little things and you going out of your way to fix it.
And often I catch myself wondering… how did I get so lucky as to have a father like you?
Thank you for being you.
I love you.