ডোরা তার বাবাকে নিয়ে একটা লেখা লিখেছে। স্বচ্ছন্দে বাংলা বলতে পারলেও বাংলা লেখাটা সেভাবে শিখে ওঠা হয়নি বলে ওকে লিখতে হয়েছে ইংরেজিতে।
বাংলা ব্লগ সচলায়তনে ইংরেজি লেখা প্রকাশ করছি বলে ক্ষমা চেয়ে নিচ্ছি সবার কাছে।
Happiness is a state of mind
When I was asked to write something about the death of my father, I didn't know where to begin. It has been a year since he died and to say things have gotten easier would be untrue. In fact, I'm finding that the longer it gets, the more painful the reality of the situation becomes.
There are many things that I've been able to do since he passed, that I wasn't sure I would be able to. I remember sitting in classes when he was in the ICU and selfishly thinking about the person I would become when he died. Would I be angry? Reserved? Depressed? I feared that I wouldn't know who I was anymore. But none of that happened. In fact, I realized with each passing day that I was handling everything fairly well. That may be the scariest part of the entire process – the wait for some type of insanity, a breakdown of some sort that never came.
I think the only thing that kept me going, and still keeps me going is my family – my mom and brother. I feel their heartaches, their pain and loss more than I feel my own. I think of my mother working as hard as she does to keep our lives together. I think of how hard she has worked her whole life and that surely, God could never want this type of pain for such an amazing human being. I think of my little brother, who I have never seen cry, who holds it all together so well that I am constantly reminded of how much like my father he truly is. I think of how unfair it is that I was able to spend 19 years with my father, while my brother was only given 11 years with him. But more than anything, I feel guilty for leaving them to go to college so soon after they lost my father. This guilt is so enormous that it rips my insides apart, so overwhelming that I can barely face the longing in their eyes when they see me. It is the worst and most selfish thing that I have to do when I leave them.
This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, struggles and surprisingly, growth. I feel so much older than my 20 years, so much more experienced than any of my friends, more dutiful than anyone my age. but despite this, I had been selfish and immature about one thing. I had not made the effort to visit my father's grave since the funeral one year ago. It is a situation that I could not prepare myself for, one that past experiences could not teach me to deal with. Before my father died, I had never even been to a funeral, had never seen a dead body, had never even been to a cemetery. The idea that all these foreign things were now connected with my own father was surreal. I could not imagine that his body was six feet under ground, buried deep under the earth, rotting and decaying just like every other dead being that was once alive. To me, my father was greater than that, a superhero, a god of some sort. I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that he, too, would die and disintegrate into oblivion. The logic of this was jarring and I couldn't find a reason (religious implications aside) to see it with my own eyes.
I knew my resistance to go to my father's grave was hurting my mom, as she kept reminding me that I had an obligation to go. But with every other obligation I had, my life was being pulled in 20 different directions at once. I very strongly insisted to her that this decision was my own to make. I also couldn't stop thinking about the way my father spoke about his own father when he died. I recall sitting in the passenger seat of his car, looking at my dad, noticing a sad smile on his face as he said, "I haven't cried at all since my father died. It hasn't hit me yet. I think if I ever visit his grave, it will really hit me and I can actually cry." Every time I thought about visiting his grave, I thought about what he said, realizing that I wasn't ready for his death to hit me.
On Eid this year, just a few days ago, I finally visited my father's grave, with the insistence of my aunt and uncle. It wasn't entirely my decision to go and although I didn't necessarily disagree to go, internally, I was experiencing the second panic attack of my life. The first one was in the hospital bathroom when I first realized that my father would die. I remember walking into the ICU and looking in shock at my father turned onto his stomach. I asked the nurse what happened, and she explained to me that his lungs were collapsing and they had to turn him to keep the oxygen from escaping. I don't remember how I got there, but I found myself in a ball in the corner of one of the bathroom stalls, crying hysterically. The entire experience is a blur of tears, nausea, and the eventual realization that this was the end: he was going to die.
My second panic attack wasn't nearly as horrific as the first. It wasn't nearly as painful because I knew deep down that the worst had already passed and I was sure that nothing could hurt as bad as what I had already felt. I sat in the car when we pulled up to the cemetery and I tried to keep from hyperventilating, tried to remain calm, tried to not let ridiculous things phase me. The walk up to his grave was harder than I anticipated and I found myself constantly pausing to regain my composure. When I finally saw his grave, it felt as though I was punched in the stomach, a complete slap in the face and I could not stop myself from crying. It was hard to imagine that under that tombstone, lay my dead father. But just then, something miraculous happened.
I began noticing the beautiful yellow flowers placed upon the tombstone. I read the inscription, the letters of my name in gold, forever engraved next to his. I looked at the graves next to his and wondered who they were, if they had many people visit them and notice my father's grave. I suddenly realized that I had stopped crying. I had forgotten that I was supposed to be sad. And just like that, I was still, calm, and tranquil. I focused on my father's resting place and the serenity of the atmosphere. The protective and secluding trees, the soft grass, the faint sounds of silent prayer around me, and I felt a haunting breeze that reminded me of the many ways in which my father could have been trying to reach me.
My mom and brother often talk about seeing my father in their dreams. I would listen in jealousy as they spoke of the way my father talked to them, reassured them, reached them sometimes when they were asleep. I had never once seen my father in my dreams and I often wondered why didn't try to reach out to me somehow, the way he did with the rest of my family. But the night I visited his grave, for the first time, I saw my father as soon as I closed my eyes to sleep. It was instant, like a flash from a camera. There he was, dressed in a maroon Punjabi, adorned with gold embellishment and he even wore a gold netted scarf. Knowing my father and how unlikely he was to be wearing anything other than jeans and a t-shirt, I was surprised to see him look so festive. He had a relaxed and meaningful smile on his face, still young and healthy looking. He looked so different than he had at the hospital and the last few years of his life. He was thinner, eyes open and friendly, with his hair full and jet black. He looked just as he had when my brother was first born, 11 years ago. Then I saw my mother, looking just as young with her long black hair tied in a braid. She had on a luxurious blue sari, looking beautiful in every sense of the word. On her hip, she carried my baby brother, a pacifier in his mouth, his eyes wide and playful, full of innocence and curiosity. There was my family, each and every one of them happy and healthy.
When I awoke the next morning, I felt more free-spirited and happy than I had felt in the longest time I could remember. The image of my father reassured me that wherever he was, he was happy. I had often wondered and worried about whether or not he was lonely or sad without me, my mom, and my brother. But now, I imagine my father in the company of the friends he always told me about that passed away. I remember the way he would mournfully speak of them and the close friendships they shared. I hope that they are all together now, laughing and joking the way my father used to when he was younger and healthier. I hope he is with my grandfather and I hope he is able to finally make up for all the lost time when they could not see each other. I hope he got the chance to cry for his father. But most of all, I hope that he doesn't miss us too much, I hope he never feels an inch of the pain and loneliness that we feel. I never want him to feel any type of pain ever again.
George Harrison once said, "Try to realize it's all within yourself, no one else can make you change, and to see you're only very small and life flows on within you and without you.” This is the only way I can think to live my life. We must all take life one day at a time, the way my father always did. There is no use in worrying about the future, no use in being dramatic, no use in giving up. Our problems, however overwhelming at times, are minuscule in the bigger scheme of things. We are all merely pinpoints, lost and forgotten amongst the grandiosity of life, and this idea is the best way to stay humble and happy. After all, happiness is merely a state of mind and in order to maintain it, you have to believe that it can happen.