It was today, 35 years ago, my father passed away. It still seems like just yesterday. His words, actions, kindness, thoughtfulness, and wisdom continue to influence and inspire me today. And he did so much for his family, friends and many more. I am proud of him. I do remember him often.
I was then studying at Delhi University, one morning at around 4.00 a.m., my mother and I woke up hearing some strange sound and found my father, whom I call Babuji, was panting for his breath. I immediately ran to call a doctor. My mother started preparing him for going to Hospital, as we guessed that he had to be moved to a hospital seeing his condition. One of my cousins — Piklu — was staying with us then. Piklu was doing an internship in architecture in Delhi. He woke up and immediately ran to call a taxi.
The doctor came home at that early hour with me. He checked Babuji and suggested we take him immediately to a hospital as it was a case of a coronary attack. The taxi was also ready by then waiting at our door. I along with one of our neighbours, who woke up hearing some sound from our house and came down to see, immediately rushed my father to the hospital. My mother and Piklu were following us in a separate taxi.
Babuji’s head was lying on my lap in the back seat of the taxi. I could suddenly see in the early morning street lights on our way to the Hospital that his eyes were still. I missed a few heartbeats. I got a hint that he was no more alive. But, I tried to reassure myself that he was alive and would be OK as we reach the hospital when doctors start his treatment. I started praying for his life. I couldn’t muster the strength to check whether he was breathing.
Alas, my prayers fell into deaf ears, the Emergency department doctor at the Safdarjung Hospital declared him “brought dead”! It shattered my world. But, I had to gather strength to manage everything and my mother. They just reached following us. She was almost uncontrollable then. God must have given me the strength to control my emotions. It was a very difficult situation for me.
The irony was that my father was declared dead at the same hospital where I was born – Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi around 20 years before.
The date was November 30, 1983. Slowly the news spread and there was quite a crowd at our house after we reached back home with Babuji. I still remember that day with gratitude to our neighbours as they stayed back with us taking leave from their office to console us and arrange for his funeral, besides informing our relatives. We were lucky to have such wonderful neighbours who didn’t bother me or my mother and made all arrangements themselves for the funeral etc. Thanks is a very small word for them.
I miss you, Babuji. I love you very much.
Pita swarga, Pita dharma, Pita hi paramang tapo,
Pitori pritimapannay, Priyantay sarva devata ||
In English, it means:
“My father is my heaven, my father is my dharma, he is the ultimate penance of my life. If he is happy, all deities are pleased.”