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Restoring Happiness

by Ritu Gulabani

Though this blog is all about happiness but all of us experience moments of pain, sadness, worry and sorrow too. The worst moments are those when we suffer with an irreparable loss and land into a world of grief. I can understand and empathise as I have lost my father too and I saw him dying everyday, every moment for about six months in the hospital.

But should we close ourselves in a snail shell and live a secluded life (which will lead to despondency, diseases and depression )or should we try to relive, fulfill the dreams of the departed soul and rejoice. The choice is ours.

With this, here comes my second story “He is Daddy”,which was first published in “Meri Kahani- Nonfiction Anthology of Short Stories”. My soul felt nurtured, relieved and healed once I had penned this real life pain followed by miracles of my life.

He is Daddy

Daddy was an amazing father, full of adventure and enthusiasm, always available for his little girl. His work as a central government employee meant that he and us, had to shift residences several times. But no matter where we lived, he would walk down to the farms to secure pure and fresh vegetable, fruit and milk. His mantra was, “if wealth is lost, something is lost, but if health is lost everything is lost.” A Civil Engineer by profession, he was also a sportsman. He truly epitomized his name – Hargun  ( All the qualities)
Our family of five was so happy and connected that we hated it when daddy was away on his tours. With him around, no problem seemed too big.  Our childhood in this loving family was blissful, but life was yet to unfold its secrets.
I was hardly six then and daddy was posted in Nepal. I still remember the night when we travelled to Delhi. Upon reaching their house, we saw a huge white tent outside. We were still in the auto, when a lady approached daddy, “Hargun! Govind passed away…….. this morning.” Mom and daddy looked at each other, with disbelief. The lady continued, “his scooter and right leg were crushed under a truck just three days back and today while doctors were operating on his leg, he took his last breath.” Daddy’s eyes brimmed with tears, while mom was still under shock. My sister Sandhya, who was five years older than me, also appeared upset. Perhaps she had also understood. However I and my brother, who was two years younger than me, remained blank.
Daddy paid the auto driver and entered the pavilion while mom took us to the guest room through a small side door. Pinku tried to be with daddy but mom pulled him up with her. However, she could not block the shrill wails that escaped the pavilion.
On the first floor, I saw an aunt and happily ran towards her to hug her. She, in turn, hugged me with a sad smile, red face and tears visible through her spectacles. She helped us settle down in the room. Mom advised my sister and me to keep an eye on Pinku, “Remember how we had lost him in Bombay Central Railway Station.” She reminded us.
I had a sibling rivalry with Pinku. So while Sandhya didi, took out a book to read stories to Pinku. I sneaked out and ran to find Mom. As I moved down the stairs the wails got louder, giving me goose bumps. I slowed down as I neared the pavilion. My heart thudded as I put a tentative foot inside.
I can never forget the scene. My Uncle Govind lay in the centre on the ground. He was covered with a white sheet and flowers. I stood still, frozen, staring at him. Mom pulled me back to the room, angrily and instructed my sister not to let me or Pinku out of sight.
By this time our grandparents had arrived. I saw my grandma and ran to her. Grandma had perhaps sensed my trauma and hugged me, her own face was wet with salty tears and sweat.
I pulled a napkin from mom’s handbag; wiped grandma’s face and started my questions, “Dadima, why did he die? Does everyone die or only those who meet an accident?  Will I also die? Where do we go then?”
I still remember the crux of her explanation – we were all sent to earth with a purpose and once that is fulfilled, we are called back.
With this knowledge, Death became the most fearful monster. I started praying, every morning and night that no one in my family should die. If someone really has to go, it should be me first because I didn’t want to bear the pain of losing anyone from my family.
Time flied and we grew up. Just after my wedding, Daddy was diagnosed with – Cerebral Ataxia.  Neurologists gave us a bleak prognosis. The disease started with a lack of co-ordination in muscle movement but slowly his health started seriously deteriorating.
For my wedding in 2001, he had driven the car on his own with my mom by side, and distributed the invitations. Barely seven months later, he had to hire a driver to distribute the cards for Pinku’s wedding.
He retired in April 2004 and mom became his only companion. Pinku was usually on tour. At that point, he could still walk. Come 2005 and mom had to buy a wheel chair because he would often lose his balance and trip.
Mom was grateful that he could still walk to the toilet but by 2006 he had started using a urine pot. His speech had started to slur. His hand and mouth coordination were like that of a baby learning to eat food on its own.
Another fortnight and mom was feeding him. As I silently cried, he tried to cheer me up, “I am through with my responsibilities now, am quite tired and I must rest,” he said.
On first June 2006, he suffered a cardiac arrest, was hospitalized and put on ventilator. Mom was alone in the hospital when she called me at five in the morning. Pinku was on tour and Sandhya didi lived in Ahmedabad with her husband and two little girls. We called up everyone we could – Pinku, Sandhya didi, Uncles and Aunts. I prayed for daddy’s recovery, begged for his health and God actually responded. The ventilator was removed, but by then, multiple complications had caught up with him causing ulcers and lung infection. A few days later, doctors had to operate upon him for a throat infection and they inserted a tracheotomy tube. This took away his voice, we saw daddy dying every day, every moment.
In October 2006, doctors advised us to take him home. My heart oscillated between hope and fear- one thought said he might improve at home with his little grand-daughter who was not allowed in the hospital and the other thought was sending chills down my spine. He was surviving on several machines. What if one of them suddenly failed? He was fed through rice tube, which had to be changed every now and then. There was – a tracheotomy tube, a suction machine, which mom had just learnt to operate in the hospital and an oxygen cylinder.
But mom was as happy as she could be under the circumstances. They both were tired of the hospital and wanted to be in their own comfort zone. However, their bedroom turned into a hospital soon. The bed was raised and an air mattress was bought to prevent bedsores. A nurse was also hired.
After about a fortnight at home, daddy showed discomfort and breathlessness.
Hospitals denied him admission; there was no bed due to a dengue epidemic. Mom tried a hospital where the trustee was daddy’s friend.
Although there was no bed daddy was admitted because of this friend who left no stone unturned to help us.
Exactly a month later – on my birthday, first November 2006, at 3 am in the morning, the phone rang and I took the call. Anil, my husband, thought that it was some friend or cousin wanting to be the first one to wish me. Instead it was a call from the hospital. Through a cloud of foreboding and fear I barely comprehended the stranger’s voice as it informed me that daddy was taking his last breath.
On my way to the hospital, for the first time, I was not grief-stricken. When I reached, mom was standing beside his body with tears but perhaps relieved. We didn’t mourn. Daddy had finally relieved of utmost pain and suffering.
Pinku was on a tour in Ranchi. He somehow managed to catch a flight to Delhi with the help of our neighbor, who was an ATC with Air India. The neighbour had to actually take personal control of air traffic to make sure that the flight landed just in time for the funeral.
Even at the funeral, every single person gave a helping hand. Pinku’s partner gave cash to mom much more than was required.
Things appeared so much in place except for daddy and his presence. But at every difficult spot, we felt as daddy himself was helping us.
A few days later, my aunt arrived from Jakarta with mangoes. “Mangoes? In the month of November?” I asked.
“Yes we get them in Jakarta at this time. Your daddy loved mangoes.  We thought we’ll feed them to the cows. They may reach your daddy, as our scriptures say,” she replied. I was filled with gratitude as I absorbed this miracle.
I stayed with mom for the next twelve days till the final ceremony. During this time, I helped mom secure hospital and death certificates, pension papers and manage account transfers as I myself was a banker. At every moment, with every explanation, the process became painful, perhaps more for mom. She would often be in tears. Later daddy’s friend took over and helped mom complete the formalities.
Sometime after daddy’s death, I got a promotion. The whole department was congratulating me but I was missing my daddy. My mind was flooded with memories; how much he had celebrated every small success of mine. How much he had taken pride in my growth.
A few days later, I saw daddy at an airport, fit as a fiddle, with a rucksack on his back as if he was ready for his next adventure. He was smiling and walking towards me, waving. Before I could call out to him, I realized that he was no more. It was a mystic scene but his face was same ever-smiling. He hugged me and said, “Ritu, I had actually left five months back, on first of June, the day I was put on the ventilator. But I could see you and your mom, intimidated, outside the ICU. I knew, both of you would not accept my death, so I decided to let you decide the fate. I left when you all permitted me to go. Don’t worry I am happy and will be back with you soon. Take very good care of yourself and your mom till then.” He bade goodbye and boarded a huge plane. “Daddy……. Daddy!” I cried as his flight took off.  My eyes opened and I found that I was back on my bed. The airport had vanished into thin air. I wiped the tears that had crept out unbidden and turned towards my husband who was still sleeping, blissfully unaware of my restless mind. I put my arms around him and tried to go back to sleep.
The dream, nevertheless, provided some comfort. A prophecy, as it was, I was blessed with a son within ten months of daddy’s departure. It was no less than a miracle because we had been trying for a child for more than six years and with a history of tuberculosis in uterus, polycystic ovaries, hypothyroidism and two miscarriages, a baby was a distant dream.
During the grand celebrations that followed, my grandma surprised me further by crying out loud that the baby looked exactly like daddy and that even daddy had umbilical hernia on his birth just like my baby.
“Is daddy really back?”I wondered.
As time passed, my son kept surprising me. He enjoys swimming. He loves sea and all the adventure sports. He loves to try different cuisines. He enjoys Mathematics and says that he wants to become an engineer. He has a celebrating spirit. Just like my daddy, and so unlike his own. He even kisses me with a little bite on my cheeks, which was my daddy’s peculiar way of expressing love for his chubby little girl. My son often makes me think “He is Daddy.”


So friends, I have chosen to be happy, friendly, cheerful, travel enthusiast, nature lover and adventurous like my father. I love, when people say that they see my father in me and my son, especially all those old people who knew him well. Hence choice is ours and we should make them live in us.

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0 comment

Meenu April 9, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Loved every word Ritu. And can relate so much. Specially the dream part, where he tells you all is well. Same happened with me as well. Can feel you. We still are and will always be our daddy's little daughter !❤

fromcaterpilartobuterfly April 10, 2018 - 12:16 pm

Thank you Meenu for such lovely words. I write so that people can co-relate, compare their own situations, get inspired, work on their goals and achieve happiness. That is the sole motive. Thanks again.

semesthagruha April 14, 2018 - 8:30 pm

Very touching Ritu. I love the way you relate real experiences to wisdom. Simple and just right.

fromcaterpilartobuterfly April 24, 2018 - 3:21 pm

Thank you so much di!

Unknown May 4, 2018 - 7:14 pm

Beautiful narrative full of wisdom and inspiration. Enjoyed reading it.

fromcaterpilartobuterfly May 14, 2018 - 12:25 pm

Thanx so much Richa

Unknown July 27, 2018 - 1:56 pm

Nice ink

fromcaterpilartobuterfly July 30, 2018 - 1:22 pm

Thank you

Unknown August 15, 2018 - 6:13 pm

Very touching didi

Ritu August 16, 2018 - 11:11 pm

Thanks dear


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