Dear Abba, I’m sorry
I’m sorry for crying profusely when you held me in your arms for the first time, and stopped sulking as soon as you kissed my forehead and handed me over to Ammi. I had just opened my eyes in this world, and I was unsure of your love. I was your first son, but somehow was always more connected to Ammi.
I’m sorry for the time when you picked a crying me up from my cot, held me in your arms, wearing your crisp, trademark double-pocketed shalwar kameez, early in the morning ready to go to work, and I drenched you in my baby-vomit. You smiled ever so softly, and quietly cleaned me. It was heroic of you to not wake Ammi up for that, and you somehow managed to put me back to sleep too.
I’m sorry for the time you offered your finger to me so I could hold it and walk my first full, baby steps. Instead, I decided that I didn’t need your finger and ventured alone until my round feet wobbled and I fell flat on my face, with only the wooly carpet saving me from getting hurt. You picked me up, dusted me clean, and held my hand to help me try walking again.
I’m sorry for the time when you wanted to race me in our garden, but I ignored you. I was too busy running around on my own. You smiled and clapped for me every time I ran faster.
I’m sorry for throwing a tantrum when you gave me two board games on my fourth birthday, when I wanted a bicycle with no training wheels. You promised that I would get one the next year if I stopped crying. I did and you kept your promise the next year.
I’m sorry for the time I came first in grade three. I remember after getting my award from the principal, I came running towards you and Ammi, but hugged Ammi instead and almost ignored you waiting to hug me with your arms wide open. I could see you beaming, tears in your eyes, and I wish I knew what they meant.
I’m sorry for lying about my terrible results in grade seven. And for making you cry when you found out I had failed. I wish I knew the tears in your eyes were not because I had failed, but because I had lied to you.
I’m sorry for the times I sneaked out with your car and illegally took it for a ride and pretended that I didn’t know how to drive. I think you might have already known I was driving it around with all the dents and scratches mysteriously appearing on its body. You staying quiet on this was as mysterious as those dents themselves.
I’m sorry for never putting a smile on your face on my annual result days. I remember your eagerness at opening my report card year after year, and showing no signs of feeling disappointed. You always put your arm across my shoulders and jokingly said,
“At least you passed, beta. It’s something I could hardly ever achieve myself!”
Your tone was always encouraging, yet your sympathetic smile always hid your true emotions.
I’m sorry for always running ahead and climbing the stairs before you when we came back late from those weddings that the both of us mutually despised. I always had a football game to watch, or had to run and put my phone on charge.
I’m sorry for never becoming the kind of professional you wanted me to become. My crushed office clothes, improperly grown beard, and disorderly look always irked you, yet you felt proud in introducing me to your friends as the son who became a successful business graduate.
I’m sorry for never buying you a gift from my earnings. You always seemed to have an issue with me spending my hard-earned money on ‘unnecessary’ things.
I’m sorry I didn’t realise that while I was growing into a strong but careless young man, it was becoming difficult for you to keep up with the severity of your age.
I’m sorry that I never really understood the times you scolded me for being careless.
I’m sorry for never really acknowledging the sacrifices you made for us.
I’m sorry for not being able to take care of you when you got ill. One last time.
And then you left. You left as quietly as you had spent your entire life. You left and left a permanent, raging, gaping hole in my life. You left me without telling me how to take care of myself. You left me without telling me how to take care of our family. You left me without seeing me becoming the man you had always wanted me to become. You left me without teaching me how to live life without you.
If I could go back in time, I would take back every ounce of pain that you had to suffer because of me. I would take back every tear that escaped your eye because of me. I would take hold of your finger while trying to take my first steps, hold your hand while climbing the stairs, would wear the kind of clothes you wanted me to wear. I would take back every lie that came out of my mouth. I would give you reasons to be proud of me.
I’m sorry that a father’s love isn’t told in tales, his sacrifices aren’t the basis of folklores. And some might argue that there will always be a stronger emotional bond between a child and its mother, fathers are usually pillars of strength that enable a mother to independently take care of her children.
I know this because I saw you be that person of grit and steadfastness that let us live the way we’ve wanted. You let us thrive and take paths of our choosing. You hid your pain so we may not feel our pain.
Thank you, Abba.
Thank you for always making sure that the table was full of things we wanted to eat; that the fridge was filled to the brim with delicacies you never ate yourself. Thank you for sending us into the most elite of schools and colleges to study, something you had never had the pleasure of having. Thank you for always getting me whatever I wanted in life, despite never letting me get you anything I wanted to get you.
Thank you for teaching me how to live. Thank you for being the most important person in my life. I will always strive to be like you, however impossible that task may be. I have a lifetime to try and become half the man that you were. I hope someday you will meet me again, happily put your arm across my shoulders again, and say,
“At least you passed, beta. It’s something I could hardly ever achieve myself!” Only this time, I hope your smile isn’t sympathetic.
Your regretfully thankful Beta.
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