“The food is good,” he said! Deep in my heart I knew what blunders I had made while cooking this meal, my first ever hands-on experience in cooking! But somehow dad enjoyed it like he had never tasted anything better!
I have no memory of my mother. She passed away due to labor complications, just a few minutes after my birth. My grandmother told me a bit about her and that’s all I know about mom. However, there was no end to of her singing praises for my father’s brave decision to raise me all by himself. Almost all of his relatives warned him that it is tough being a single father. However, he was determined to bring me up amidst the societal pressure to remarry and rapidly changing trends.
Despite his unreliable work hours, he ensured that I never had to worry about anything, provided I abide by his set of guidelines and rules. I had to wake up early, get ready by myself, and walk to the school. He taught me to cook food when I was in seventh grade. Since then, I got appointed as his chef. He brought the groceries and other necessities. I took up the role of a housekeeper. From Bharat Natyam to Judo, my dad signed up for every possible extra-curricular activity. Whenever I made an excuse to avoid any session, he would personally come to drop me off and wait until the class was over.
On my fourteenth birthday, he gifted an iPhone. I went silly with the photos and updates on the social media assuming he wouldn’t know anything about it. One night, he brought opened the can of worms and gave me an earful about a variety of things. From duck-face selfies to crop tops, he left no stone unturned. All the teenage rage and pent up anger blew the kettle top the night he refused to let me go out with my college friends. He signed me up for a couple of online courses and made me teach neighborhood kids during the summer holidays. So I earned a decent sum during my college years.
The grey shadow of the grim job scene touched me too, and I continued tutoring kids while hunting for a good job. I deleted my Facebook account because I was getting sick of my classmates getting married, going on holidays, and photos of the grand lunches with their new office mates. During those challenging and depressing times, my dad used to drag me out to shop, watch movies or visit relatives often, seldom leaving me alone or letting a gloomy thought hit me.
Finally, I scored an interview at a Fortune 500 company, and I anxiously waited to share the news with my dad. When he came home, I saw the wrinkles on his tired face and his grey hair. He slumped into a chair. Before I could share the good news, he handed me a large envelope carrying several scans and reports. He tested positive for stomach cancer. All those bittersweet memories right from childhood flashed in front of my eyes. Next day, I researched and inquired about the best specialists and took him for the checkup. The doctors coldly told us about being a bit late to detect cancer. However, I never gave up hope. This was followed by a series of appointments, chemotherapy treatment, costly medicines, and several sleepless nights.
All my feelings were still inside me, wanting to come out and have a talk with him. I wanted to thank him for all the tough love, comfort, discipline, lessons, and everything that he had done for me so far. I wanted to have a heart to heart conversation with him but that time never came. I wanted to thank him for the care he had given me by sacrificing his own comfort. But all of it now just remains in the heart, as does he. Whilst looking for a right time to have a talk, cancer took the charge and I lost. This Father’s Day, penning this down has helped me a bit. I hope you know what you meant to me, daddy. Happy Father’s Day to you!! I Miss you!!
NOTE: This is a fictional story and the characters or incidents are in no way related to the author or any person.