dad

Offended, then ashamed, for the same reasons

Early May 2015 (a month before Dad died), the family has just moved back to Mumbai and I was searching for a house in the Andheri neighborhood of Mumbai, primarily because of its proximity to the hospital Dad was being treated in. One of the questions while talking with the brokers  was always about religion, but I disregarded it to be a question about demographics. Until this once when I really liked a place and the broker said he will check with the owner. The response:

Sorry, cannot rent the house to a Muslim.

From that point on, whenever I’d speak to landlords, the identification as a muslim (or non-vegetarian, which is supposedly the politically correct term) became a part of the first conversation. (There was this one time when one house owner actually took offence to my statement Will you rent your house out to a muslim family?, that was 1 out of 20+ conversations I had)

There are laws in india against this kind of discrimination, and its implementation usually met by apathy . But in my case it was a deteriorating father. So we moved on and finally found a good place that everybody like, owned by a Muslim.

I was offended.


Fast forward to September 2015 —  Dad’s dead, Mom and Sana are back in Doha with me (the house was not rented after all), and I’m getting married in December. For the dinner with my side of the family* (mostly a practicing muslim family), Jyoti and I decided on a poolside place at The Westin and made sure that Halal food will be available. On talking to the family, another requirement was put forward

The food has to be cooked by a Muslim. 

Now, I could go into the laws of Islam about food being Halal, interpretations by important leaders, and just common (f*king) sense; but an argument is not really worth it. Especially when 1. it is cousins in my age group who push for this and 2. the two possible outcomes of continuing with the Westin are 2a. Mom being harassed because none of the family will speak to me directly and/or 2b. People simply won't show and I will end up wasting money that could have been put to better use.

So we decide to hire a banquet hall, and a Muslim caterer for the event and everyone is happy. Well, not everyone, but is there any event in the world that makes anyone happy? So we move on.

I am ashamed.


When do we move forward in time? And life?

 

*Jyoti and I will have only a dinner with each side of the family independently — reasons (separate, but related) not important here, I’m positive I will write about it later

Thank you, Dad.

The delta of life has been off the charts lately. Dad passed away at 1039 on June 3. And I grew up.

Kind of.

The last three days he spent at the hospital were difficult. Very difficult. I want to believe they were more difficult for us around him than him. I honestly don't believe he was in pain. A person like him cannot be in pain.

The last two years he spent fighting Pancreatic Caner were difficult too. They were also, by far, my best years spent with him. He spoke about his life a lot. Growing up at Bazaar Road, Bandra. Being forced to work at the family shop right after school. Bunking school to learn to operate a crane so that he could earn some money. Going to the Middle East at 17. Letting go of a house in Versova (which would be worth about 200 times now) to get his older brothers married. Fighting with his parents about the guest list at his own wedding. Fighting with white guys off-shore who disrespected his colleagues (Apparently slapped one of them across his face and did NOT get fired). Coming to Qatar and settling down.

He never had a convincing answer to one question though – What do you want to do?. He was asked this question multiple times over the last 2 years in various contexts but never answered it. He probably didnt know how to. Unsurprisingly.

He is missed. A lot. Even though our most recent interactions weren't very cheerful (and I understand its going to take some time for the more jovial memories to be the permanent ones), just him being around was something. It hits me when I go back home and the chair/bed he usually occupied is now empty. Its weird to not need to ask mom the details of how he has been today. Nausea? Motions? Food? Pain?

And then I miss him more. Thinking about the bigger picture, which he is physically not a part of anymore. There are things I wanted to do with him around and couldnt get to. But again, that was always going to be an infinite number of things to do.

Thank you, Dad, for showing exactly what it means to not live for yourself but for others. And thank you, God, for making me a part of that specific others.

Happy Father's Day.

 

Happy Father's Day

Today marks the end of the most difficult year he has ever lived through. He can probably count the number of time he has cried, moaned, complained, disturbed others, gotten frustrated, cursed and wished he would die. Certainly more than once each, probably more than one of the above feelings per day on average through the last year.

More importantly, today also marks the most exciting year he has lived through. The most he has ever travelled (not that he likes flying to India at odd time a whole lot). He is now friends with two of the most prolific doctors in the world (Dr. Markus Beuchler and Dr. Shailesh Shrikhande). He has braved sub-zero temperatures(at least according to him) of Europe. He is the owner of multiple properties in two of the most prolific cities in India. Most importantly. he still holds the upper hand in the most important fight of his life, against Pancreatic Cancer.

 

The only memory I had of him until 9 years of age was a carton of Mars he would get when we'd come back home for a couple weeks. No interactions, no conversations, only pictures. On moving to Doha, life changed quite a bit. He threw me into the swimming pool to teach me how to swim. He made my drive a car (well, at least steer it) when I was 13 and 14 and 15 and 16. He let me back out of the garage when I was 17 and 18. He bought me an over-specced computer in 1998 (about 80% of his monthly income). He bought me multiple touch screen PDAs in 1999, not knowing what they were, or what its use to me would be. He bought me a badminton racket every year from 2000 through 2006. He bought me an over-specced laptop for college and a car on the same day (used up all his savings until that point. And he also sent me to Carnegie Mellon(let's not even get into the cost here).

One would think he kept me happy, and in hindsight, he sure did. I didn't think that back in the day though, probably because he's broken at least 4 belts beating me up. He's thrown me out of the house on multiple instances, sometimes for multiple hours on a winter night(it can sometimes get cold in Doha!), because I was late by 15 minutes in coming back home. He never gave me money to hang out with my friends. He would not drive me to school if I missed the bus. He would force me to take a ride (a lift for those who understand) with a stranger on days I'd have to go to play Cricket at 4 in the morning. The result -- I am money-conscious, (extremely) punctual, disciplined, independent, and can drive and swim well. (results from a Gallup poll of some friends).

 

I've never really thanked him enough. He's never asked for it either. Now that I think about it, he's never really asked for anything. I would like him to ask me for something, anything.

 

Today marks one year since he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. He continues to win, and amaze me.

 

Happy Father's Day, Dad!