Desi Contemporary Sad

He was always there, in the sounds of his suggestions, in the unspoken glances when she acted out of turn, the cheeky winks he gave when he made a joke about her Mother, in the breeze when she closed her eyes and smelt his woollen suits and face cream.

He passed on the Saturday night, after obediently taking the last, tender cup of tea to his wife, invalid in bed - he sat on the chair in the bedroom, relaxed, cradled his head in the cups of his hands, and fell forward into that beautiful, peaceful, slumber of the unbroken.

 The carer always goes first- don't they say?

The last meal the daughter had given him had been a rushed hotch potch of of ends cobbled together earlier the evening before. Intended audience of which had mainly been the Mother, Father by way of being present had also been arranged a plate and had happily taken the tray from her of now it seemed, silly odds and ends; a slice of warm pizza, a dollop of potato salad, a few forlorn salad leaves and a crust of garlic bread.

"I'll see you tomorrow!" A breezy, perfunctory leave and she was off, never to speak to her Father again. 

Correction - a call was made the night of his passing. She had been at a petrol station, and had made that obligatory evening call to enquire about Mother.

Her Father had picked it up - as usual.

"How's Mum?"


"What's happening- what's that noise?"

"The carpets are being cleaned."

"Oh. Clean downstairs too."

"Do they need them? "

"Yes..Are you ok?"

"Yes I'm fine."

"OK, see you tomorrow. Khoda Hafez.

"Nana how are you?" Her little son, her Father's beating heart, had chirped in the background. "How are you Nana? How's Nani? Ok Khoda Hafez!"

Thank God, thank God she had telephoned and spoken one last time. "So you did say goodbye, on the phone that evening" her brother reassured her.

"No, no, I didn't say it properly".

"But you said it? We were there in the end."

An abrupt, breakneck drive to the hospital entailing two driving tickets ensured she was there at the end with her brother, kissing her father's cheeks and forehead and whispering prayers she blew his way as she clutched his hand. Watched the monitor defiantly.

"The vitals are all good."

"But the brain is gone."

She gripped his hand, refusing to feel the coldness as the warm blood ceased its flow through those veins. Hands that had tenderly held her, brought tea and food up to her room when she had been ill with sepsis during her cancer treatment just eighteen months before. Hands of the first parent to cradle the little baby daughter they brought forth from the incubator as she had impetuously made her way to the world too soon. Eyes closed tightly now, never to gaze upon that little girl he had been so dizzy with joy of having had, after the first born son.

Had he really left them all now?

The ache and numbness in her heart was a pain she revelled in. The physical sensation and the burn of that misery was something she immersed herself into, bathing herself in the desolation every night and even during the day when she had a spare moment to. The binding contract with work enabled her to keep busy, stare straight ahead at the screen with unwavering focus as she supported her students, mindless, functional and dispassionate. Then the day ended and the melancholia overtook her again. 

People fell into two categories; those who had met her Father and those who hadn't. Suddenly, she felt an affinity with anyone who had spoken with him - been touched by his kindness. Conversations she forced to keep him alive in everyone's heart, not just her own. The piano tuner at the front door, and then at her piano.

"You met my Father last month, didn't you? Yes, he's gone now."

'But he seemed so well when he opened the door!'

"Yes. He was still working, driving, walking outside for exercise, cooking..."

The strain of the hurt and agony she was seeped in was now working against her. An infection lingered. She needed IV antibiotics - nothing less would budge it. Her oxygen saturation levels had dropped too. Strange, as she'd always scored 100%. The doctor at Accident and Emergency looked at her with wide eyes. "Are you in pain? Do you need a wheelchair?'

"No. I don't need a wheelchair."

"Your infection marker is quite high". 

She lay in bed as the antibiotics drip, drip, dripped into her vein. Where was her Father now, to ring her incessantly: "How are you? How are you feeling?" Phone calls she had answered with such a casualness and nonchalance, her now lackadaisical temperament singed her. 

The third night, she lay with her arm dangling out of the bed while the vein drank in the antibiotic - drip, drip, drip. As she was immuno -suppressed she had a room to herself. Is this the lengths you'll go to, to be close to your Father again? She lay and whispered hushed prayers over the road to the cemetery behind the hospital where he lay.

But how selfish of you.

Absent Mother, to a boy who is innocent. Didn't you enjoy and luxuriate in the upbringing of your father, for decades and decades - and now you loll around in bed, dreaming of your Father, when he needed to go. It was his time. He wasn't young. Release him. Your heart is strong - not designed to be withering from sorrow and despair.

But don't leave me Father, daddy, be with me now and then. Come by to see us. Me. 

Were you proud of me Daddy? I remarried, and recovered from cancer, and gave you a grandson, and I got a wonderful job at the end, before you departed. Daddy, be with us now and then.

The wind blew a soft breeze, as firm fingers brushed her own. She opened her eyes in shock - hadn't the nurse left the room? She had thought she was alone.

There was no nurse in the room. 

March 07, 2024 22:24

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Alexis Araneta
16:19 Mar 11, 2024

A very poignant tale with a flow that keeps you wanting more. Lovely job !


Ananya Voss
16:51 Mar 11, 2024

Thank you Stella. I sat and wrote it in half an hour. It just spilled out!


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Mariana Aguirre
17:39 Mar 10, 2024

Love it 👏👏


Ananya Voss
19:14 Mar 10, 2024

Thank you so much Mariana!


Mariana Aguirre
20:00 Mar 10, 2024

Ofc !😁


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