Saturday, December 29, 2007

Eighty fifth birthday

My father celebrated his eighty fifth birthday on the 26th of this month.

I wanted to write something to celebrate this rather nice human being who happens to be my father. I still need to find the right words.
So I'm taking a short cut and posting something that I wrote in my pre-blogging days, almost two years ago, which is also about my mother.

I am a privileged person, I know.

My father was, for most of his life,
like most people, biped,
walking on his own two feet,
till age and infirmity and a broken hip
added a limb, a walking stick,
made him three- legged,
a ‘tri-ped’, to coin a word.

Tri-ped, he managed, went to the park,
climbed the stairs back to his flat,
restricted, but not housebound…
Just needing that one extra limb.
Until the next hip fracture…..

Uh-oh. The tri-ped needs a walker now-
The four-legged frame becomes a trusty friend
I’m like an insect now, he laughs, I walk with six legs!

And my mother ‘inherits’ his walking stick
Her knees hurt her, she needs support
The height is adjusted to suit her,
Clever stick, adjustable, one size fits all!

Somehow they managed, “tri-ped” and “hexa-ped”
Alone in their flat, until yet another fall
Convinced them that it was time to move,
To live with a child, cede to the vicissitudes of Time…..

Much relief all around, despite occasional maternal yearnings
For lost independence. For me, no more long distance anxiety,
Or emergency flights- a peaceful rhythm established
It may be the back of beyond, but at least we are all

Together, sharing our lives, our joys, our sorrows…
After some years of use, one fine morning,
the walker breaks a leg- (at the ankle, as it were).
That too on the day of a major local festival, followed by

A Sunday- no way of getting a replacement for two days.
Relative immobility is something my father accepts,
But total immobility is frightening, especially when
Nature’s calls have to be answered- not possible
Without the walker.

The poor wounded thing needs emergency repair-
I look at curtain rods and broomsticks and mop handles
Nothing seems right. And then the walking stick appears….
Can you manage without it for a day or two? I ask my mother

I think I can, she replies, As it is I’m always leaving it
Somewhere or the other, asking you to find it for me
so I’m sure I’ll be fine. But how will you fix it?

That is easy- height re-adjusted, handle turned inward,
the walking stick tightly bandaged to the walker
once, twice, tight, safe, secure
a functional entity once more
tried out successfully, a great relief to us all!

It was symbiotic, and symbolic of my parents’ lives
one barely mobile, yet sharp of ear and memory, the other
hobbling along, despite aches and pains, needing the other’s guidance
for so many things, both their personalities deeply intertwined,

each alone relatively helpless, together still a viable entity
life companions, sharing a world of memories no one else could share
peopled with those long gone, a world changed beyond imagination.
Blessing my home with their loving presence, my father’s innate courtesy,

Gentleness and humour, my mother’s amazing faith and good cheer,
Their occasional arguments …..
Let them be together always, I pray, knowing that it’s unlikely…
One has to go first- that is the very nature of life.

In the meantime, the tri-ped and hexa-ped ( with brand new walker)
Walk slowly on, together!


Anonymous said...

This was beautiful, Dipali.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. May the tri-ped and hexa-ped bring you many long years of joy :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Broom, you still blogging? Send me your password!

Savani said...

that brought tears to my eyes dipali..happy 85th and many mroe to your gentle father. I don't know what else to say...sorry..

neha vish said...

Beautiful.. just yesterday I was entering the year-end guilt of not calling my grandparents - and now this just makes me want to run and call them right away.

Lalita said...

At last! I am glad you posted this. I told you you should, more than a year ago. :-)

dipali said...

Broom: Thanks. I'm missing you. Do send an e-mail id, please. Have a great new year.
Lekhni, Dotmom,: Thanks:)
Neha: Thankoo. Have you phoned your grandparents yet?
Lali: Thanks: I hadn't started blogging then, but your encouragement helped me start:)

Unknown said...

This is beautiful Dipali .

imaginista$ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
imaginista$ said...

Fathers just have a way of putting everything together with such grace...great piece of write up...or rather..a great expression of love, Dipali:)

Space Bar said...

Ah...fathers and birthdays...wish yours from me. and happy new year to you too!

neha vish said...

Just got back here to say that I did indeed call the grandparents! There, this add several points to your karma counter! :)

Maggie said...

Aww... beautiful, Dipali!

I hope you and your entire family have a wonderful 2008!

Usha said...

Beautiful, touching, loved it - It is lives like this that renew my hope and It seems with love everything else can be managed.
Wish you all a wonderful 2008!

Thinking Cramps said...

Lovely post, Dipali. What togetherness. I am glad they are close to you.

Sue said...

Oh Dipali. Now I know why you sent that email forward.

It was a beautifully written poem. Really. You must show me some more of your poetry next we meet. I'll keep it in mind.

dipali said...

Eve's lungs,Imaginista$, Space Bar,Moppet's Mom, Usha, Anamika, Sue:
Thank you so much. Yes, Usha, I guess that love is the most powerful force in the world.
Neha, I'm sure your grandparents were all delighted to talk to you:)

Choxbox said...

beautiful dipali. really.

SUR NOTES said...

dipali,that was beautiful...

Sue said...

If you have space on your (virtual?) sweater, there's one more badge for you at my blog.

Parul said...

Hi Dipali,

Posts like this make me wish that I had more time to spend on others' blogs...I regularly miss out on such great stuff.

I don't think I can comment on this piece of poetry without getting excessively emotional...dads have that effect on their daughters...specially the ones that are gone. So I will just say, keep writing please and move on, for now.



Indian in NZ said...

very touching - made me want to pick up the phone and talk to my dad. Wishing your dad a very happy 85th.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year too.

Unknown said...

That was so beautiful Dipali. Hug your father from me. I so missed having my own father around when I read that.

dipali said...

Chox, Sur, 2B's Mom: Thanks.
Parul, Kiran: Kya kehen? I know I'm very fortunate to have both my parents around and with me. Kiran, I gave Dad your hug.

Everyone:I've been telling my father that I'd written about his birthday on my blog, and friends from across the country and the globe have sent him their good wishes. He seemed somewhat bemused and pleased at the same time.
His eyesight is quite poor but he manages to read for most of his waking hours- please pray that he continues to be able to do so. Thank you.

Thinking Cramps said...

You're tagged :)

Anonymous said...

lovely poem dedicated to your parents!

Unknown said...

miss my parents so much I came back .

dipali said...

Anamika: Will do!
Kalyan: Thanks and welcome.
Eve's lungs: Awwww. You're making me all teary. Here's a hug:)

Anonymous said...

that was so sweet, Dipali. My own parents share a very diff dynamic, but I hope they're able to share moments like these at the same age.

Wishing your mom and dad the very best.

dipali said...

Amrita, thanks. They do squabble sometimes, but are usually very sweet.

david mcmahon said...

Beautiful post.

There is no greater tribute than a tribute to a parent.

I grew up in Kolkata and half of my first novel was set in that city, so it's great to find a Kolkata blogger.

Came here from Su's blog, by the way ....

dipali said...

David, welcome here and thank you. I'm a very recent Kolkatan, but I do love this city:)

Indian Home Maker said...

My first visit on your blog today, and I am glued. This was beautiful. My best wishes to you and your parents.

Sukhaloka said...

This brings tears to my eyes, Dips, reading it now...

Aarti Gupta said...

Looks like I have seen it n experienced it :-)...loved reading beautifully you have put it...just goes to show the sensitive person you are...Love and light dear

dipali said...

@Aarti Gupta : Thank you!