“Didi, uth na. Papa ki tabbiyat kharab hain.” (“Sister, wake up. Father is sick.”)
The words of my ten-year-old brother, my little treasure, in the morning hours of the day, still gives me goosebumps. Rubbing the sleep off from my eyes, I scrambled from my bedroom to find my father sitting in a chair in the hall, drenched in his own sweat.
“Papa, papa, enda pattiye?” (“Father, father what happened?”)
I saw him struggle to even utter coherent words to make a complete sentence. That is when my brother and sister told me that he had been sick since early morning hours while I was in my deepest slumber after being awake until the wee hours of the morning.
None of this made sense to me. I didn’t hear the pain in his voice when he sang, “Uthaoonga Apni aankhein, Yahova par jo mera bal” during our morning prayer. I did not see the frown etched deeply on his face when he read the Bible portion. To me, he was perfectly alright. In my sight, he was the one I debated with every night after family prayer. He was the man who was ministering to the church and had answers to all my questions. He was the man who would never tease me but always reminded me to get in shape for my own big day. He was strong and I was his little girl.
I lost all my senses when I saw my father heave his guts out, not once, not twice but a total of three painful times. Time stood still for me as I continued to rub his back and hear the monstrous sounds deep down from the back of his throat. My numbness didn’t even register my usual nausea during these sights. Never in my lifetime had I seen my father sick. Nothing in life could prepare me for this moment. No warnings would’ve been enough for what I was witnessing that morning.
The morning of May 19th, 2020: my wake up call to reality.
Dear readers, I didn’t recall this horrendous experience for your sympathetic glances or to see that unshed tear glistening in the bridge of your eyelids. No, that isn’t what I aimed for.
Words would never suffice to tell you what I went through that morning. I cannot explain it enough to you the regrets and the guilt that burdened me that morning. It was in the following week I asked my father how old he was, even though his birthday was in March. He said he had crossed 50. For a moment, I was shaken to the core.
How often have you and I been busy building our lives and understanding ourselves that we have forgotten to drown our parents in the right attention? Haven’t you and I had moments where you skipped the call from them just so you could avoid their nagging? Haven’t each of us, at least once in our lifetime, called them “old generation” and incapable of understanding our pain, ignoring the prayers our mothers have for us in the middle of the night?
It took one morning of my father getting sick to bring me back to my reality; to wake me up from my own reverie. I don’t want or wish the same for you.
That is why I can only beg, plead, and request you to please PAUSE. Take a moment. Look around.
You can argue with me or defend yourselves enough, but I’m reminding you again, nothing would be enough when that time would come. No experience of yours would prepare you for the moment.
May you be blessed with the revelation that there’s a Father up there, who would love to be connected with you, who would love to hold you close and whisper His secrets of love. It is us that run away from Him, thinking about the pending nagging or the guilty conscience.
On a personal note, dear friends, He is always there with His arms open, for you to jump right in, just like my father did. I’ll always be his little girl, the apple of his eye, and his treasure.