Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Daddy Strongest ...

The night was young enough for Kannan but the days of fun and frolic with Appa and Amma was beyond comparison and all of it coming to an end. The apartment became silent as everyone went to sleep. It was a sleepless night for Kannan. He tossed and turned around thinking whether he had missed something. What more needs to be done. Wheel chairs for Appa and Amma's comfort, tickets, time and lots of things kept coming back to him. 

By the bedside table the table lamp was awake like a lonely tramp. The diary beside it waited for Kannan's hand to run on it and the pen to scribble down the precious memories. Kannan wrote on his favorite personal diary.

“Be it the fear of the dark, the fear of taking responsibilities or sharing and caring, throughout my childhood memories, Appa made me stronger and stronger by the day. Appa my role model. A strong man in all its senses who kept a smiling face even in grave worries. After many years it was during the surgery that Appa had to go through, it was for the first time I saw him weak and fragile. But that was due to illness. Appa was never down even with fever as far as I can remember.

It’s after five years since Appa and Amma came to Dubai. A couple of days short of a fortnight, days and nights just swept away time like the desert winds. Sun seemed to shine more than usual making it a long day of final rounds of shopping and spending time together. I held Appa's hands whenever possible with all the love and care as he used to walk me when I was small. Was he or was it me.... trying to recollect all those moments spent in smiles and laughs.

Yes my Appa is still strong. God save him from evil eyes" 

Kannan thought to himself while looking at the ecstatic smile on Appa's face and continued writing with a heavy heart and a lumped throat. The worry that they are leaving left a heavy lump in his throat like never before.

"Day before yesterday, we set out on a journey close to nature for Appa to enjoy and lived all the moments which made them smile. I drove through Sharjah and Appa was happy to see the streets again where he used to take a stroll years back. Like a kid Appa enjoyed the sights of Ajman. We saw hundreds of birds there near the beach and he was smiling like a kid. At Umm al Quwain we felt the cool breeze in the afternoon. Lunch was at Ras Al Khaimah where I held Appa as if he were a kid who was with his mother. After lunch we had ice cream from Mc Donald’s. Then a drive by the mountains to Masafi, then went to Fujairah and drove to Friday market. Saw the fruits and dates... I remember when Appa used to come back from trips with bags of fruits or yummy pastries for me and Akka. 

Then we had a special tea by the roadside. When I offered to stop for a tea he nodded like dudes would do on an off road adventure.

Appa stepped out of the car and the wind pushed his hair and ruffled it. I always remember Appa so well kept, hair well gelled to a style of his own. I did not think twice, put my hand out of the driving seat and combed Appa’s hair and felt the truth - happiness is simplicity and nothing expensive, yet priceless. After a hot cup of tea, we drove back through the mountainous Dhaid roads to Sharjah and then back home. Driving for Appa through 6 emirates for 12 hours only thinking of the love shared, made me happy and my body tired.

As we walked in to the house by 11pm, the night silence in the apartment was broken by our chit chat and it echoed in the sleepy corridors. We spent as much worthwhile time as possible as it was many years later we got to spend time together and the night was spent in packing the bags for Appa and Amma's trip back home."

His writing was broken by a shadowed dark figure near the bedroom door. It was Appa. 

"Get some sleep, you have a long day tomorrow" Appa said to Kannan with a smiling face and a tired voice.
"Was just jotting down something, hitting the bed now" Kannan replied

That reminded him of Appa asking the same question when he used to sit late in the night back home. 

"So what time is the flight" Kannan checked again as if he did not know
"11.22" said Appa with a smile

Behind that smile was the pain in the eyes of the father and son. Amma can cry but Appa... no he won’t. He is strong. As the adlib goes Kannan always felt

"My daddy is the strongest"

Kannan felt that he is considered a grown up by his Appa. It was more than any recognition he could receive in his lifetime. He bought all that could bring a smile to Appa and Amma’s face. Smiles were being exchanged and time was flying too fast. Appa never up so late, maybe the thought of leaving his son kept him awake. Amma worried about Appa’s health and she was also going through the turmoil, whether to be happy about the happy 12 days or be sad about the last 12 hours with their son.

Kannan switched the table lamp off and darkness prevailed but for the salt lamp which burned throughout. He never realized when he dozed off to sleep.
The morning coffee was accompanied by quick checks, locks, keys and the packing was done.

"Where are the house keys, I can’t find them" Appa said

The look on Amma’s face was worth an award. She turned pale

"Did you check the pouch... or maybe ..."

"No it is in the bottom of the travel bag"

The shift of expression was on to Kannan. Unpack the whole bag to retrieve the key!!!

Appa and Kannan quickly opened the lock and removed everything from the bag. There it was. The mystery of the missing key had been solved. Then it was repacking all over again.  Kannan remembered how he used to pack his school bag. It was his turn to pack bags for Appa. Golden moments that appeared to be a gift from God.

It was time to go to the airport. Amma's eyes had started pouring the parting rain. Hugs were being exchanged at home. Luggage was loaded on to the car. The sky seemed to reflect the gloom. The morning sky had clouds so dark and sun was hiding behind them. Kannan with moist eyes quickly glanced Appa. He was okay. He felt again in his heart "Appa is strong"

At the check in counter Appa passed the passport and tickets to Kannan and he gave it to the counter staff. The luggage was tagged boarding cards printed. The airport was busy as usual. But for Kannan the world seemed to be slowing down. His heart was sinking in the thought that they are going back to India. Why did the days go so fast.

"So take care of your health" Appa said smiling to Kannan

He couldn’t look at Appa as he was hiding the tears from them.

Amma spoke nothing and was trying to stop the tears that were on the verge of a fall.

The wheel chair assistants were waiting for both of them.

"Take care of them" Kannan quickly told them and took some money and handed over to them.

"We will" came the reply with a smile.

Kannan wished he was working there as the support staff and he could take them to the aircraft.

Kannan asked them to stop before they entered the immigration area. He bent forward and kissed Amma’s forehead. Then turned towards Appa and kissed his forehead for the first time in his life. The expression of love towards one another was never so before. It was like the first rain of love which showered through their eyes. The world seemed to have stopped around them.

A drop of tear fell from Appa’s eyes.... All the strength seemed to melt away. Nothing more was spoken. Just the eyes remained in Kannans mind. The drop of tear and the moment seemed to be the only thing he could see. From then on every time Kannan thought about Appa he just remembered the eyes and the tear. All the fun and frolic was rolled into one tear drop which fell from his strong Appa. Or was it all the love Appa had for Kannan which took the form of one sweet tear drop. Yes he was happy... and Kannan smiled with moist eyes.

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