Excuse me? May I have a few minutes of your precious time to tell you something that I think you ought to know? I just saw you cut an “unimportant” call. I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t have been prying, I just happened to glimpse this way. I understand that’s your father calling you from the old age home landline number because you haven’t seen him in a month now. I know it is not your fault that even in the last 10 years, he could not adjust to the old age home’s environment. I understand you’re a grown up now and have your own family to worry about. I suppose it gets annoying when you think you know better but there’s still some older man who insists that you still don’t. I assume you sometimes feel like you could do better off without him, or you wish he’d stop being so “irritating”. You find him old-fashioned and boring so you avoid spending time with him. He forgets things, his speech gets distorted, he loves talking about your childhood and he repeats things and that’s just too stupid, right?
So here’s what you need to know.
The clock struck 7 am in the morning as he felt you shake his tired, exhausted and fatigued body. Although he had barely gotten enough sleep, he stretched his body, smiled at you and got out of bed. The clock showed 8 am by the time he got home after dropping you off to school. His head throbbed, his back ached. He showered, snatched the buttered toast from his wife’s hand, forgot all about the tea that had gone cold and left the serenity of the house he had built with the sweat of his brow, for another day full of excursion, tiring arguments, cranky employer and uncooperative colleagues. He worked 9 to 5 and then worked overtime to buy you the toys you wanted, ensure your education and buy his wife the jewels she envied. In between, around lunch time, he left his snacks and rushed to pick you up from the school. By the time he got back to work, the lunch had gone cold and the lunch break had ended. As the sun was about to go down, he returned home, tired, hungry but smiling. He looked into your eyes, saw how hope turned to pure, untouched joy at the sight of the new toy and smiled wider. All the fatigue left his body as you hugged your father and told him you loved him.
He was a strong man. He never cried. Do you remember the day you were 13 and crashed your bicycle in a tree? You had a concussion so you lost consciousness so I suppose that’s why you did not notice the tears that slipped down his cheeks as he sat beside your hospital bed, praying and praying for you. I suppose that’s why you couldn’t see the desperation and agony in his eyes, in the quiver of his lips as he tried to be strong for your sake and for the sake of your family. I suppose you were too dazed afterwards to see the dark circles under his eyes due to sleepless nights, the weight he had lost in a mere week and the relief in his posture as you opened your eyes. I suppose you are unaware of the dreams he associates with you, of the hopes he has because if you knew, you wouldn’t have cut the call.
So let me tell you something.
There’s a man who gave all of himself to all of you, to the home you grew up in. There’s a man who spent even his last ounce of energy for you. There’s a man whose whole life revolves around you. There’s a man who will give his life for you without a moment’s hesitation. There’s a man who held you in his arms the day you were born and vowed to always hold your hand, till his last breath. You know what’s surprising? That in a world where promises mean nothing and vows are broken like plastic dolls, he’s still keeping up with his words. There’s a man who will fight this society for you. There’s a man who will stay strong for you but break down in the solitary hours. There’s a man who will make sure that you get everything you ever wanted. A man who will murder all his dreams so that yours can live. All you need to know is that there is a man out there, who is living for you and you only so listen to me…
Don’t take his life away from him.
Your father. The man who struggled till his bones gave in and his eye sight weakened. The man who spent years away from his family, to secure your future. The man who breathed his life into you. Why do you forget that the man you’v left waiting in a place that can never be his home, needs nothing from you but just a fragment of your affection. He does not need your money. He does not need luxury clothes and expensive gadgets or fancy dinners. All he wants is a smile from you, an occasional hug to make him feel loved. All he yearns for is love instead of annoyance in your eyes when you see him. He understands that keeping him in his house is too difficult for you so all he asks is a visit once or twice a week. See? That’s who he is. He’d settle for the least, he just asks for a little. You needed your father till you were a man, your father needs you now because he made you into the man you are now and in the process of doing so, he gave up all he had and was. Just know how lucky you are because someone out there never had the luck of seeing their father smile at them, or hold their hand as they took their first steps. Someone never got to ride on their father’s back or felt his loving embrace. Just know that you are luckier than millions out there so don’t play your luck.
And listen to me.
Go to your father now. Hold his tired, calloused hands or hug his weak body. Listen to him tell you about yourself because that’s how selfless he is. Just show him you love him. Don’t leave your father when he needs you the most because he had your back when you needed it the most. Just let him know that you’d be here for him like he was for you. Forever. The man who carried you over his shoulders might just need a shoulder to lean on.
I just hope that the next time you see your father with a smile, it’s not too late.