My Dad

This post shall be long, depressing, emotional and random
but most importantly it shall be extremely personal.

Yes, this blog is personal again.

My dad is no more. He chose to leave this world on 15th May 2008 at 340pm IST, right before my eyes. The day is separated by a fortnight on either side, from my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary and his potential 58th birthday. He was cremated on 16th May 2008, which happens to be his janma nakshatram, with due vaishnavite rites.

He was admitted to the hospital on 7th May 2008. I was supposed to return to Hyderabad,
early hours on the 15th. He was on a ventilator and hence on sedatives as well, so as to be able to withstand the painful process. The doctors had given him very little chance of survival when he was admitted. His edema and the resultant infection had spread over to the rest of the organs. I wasn’t informed of the seriousness but was just asked to prepone my arrival to Hyderabad. I came on the night of the 12th and was briefed. He had improved, the ventilator had been removed and repeated dialysis had been performed. He had regained consciousness as well but said that he just remembered being admitted and nothing else.

I met him on the morning of the 13th.

The most difficult sight for any child is to see his father powerless. Wires, tubes and oxygen mask do nothing but add to the agony. He saw me, sat up, removed a few tubes and gave me a hug that I can never ever forget. He then played with my cheeks as if I was an infant. This gesture is so special that I cannot express it in any words. My father and I were never very expressive with each other. He was more of a father figure to me than a friend. It was totally different for all my cousins and my sister. I am talking in terms of physical presence. All my cousins got the customary tap on the head which he would give whenever they met him. I for one was kind of scared of him. Till not very recently, I still was. The most we ever shared was I think a firm handshake. I hope I am putting into context what that hug means to me. With the look that he had on his face then, I am sure it meant a lot to him as well.

The first thing he talked to me, was asking me whether I had talked to my sister.

I: I did.( in the most mocking tone one can have when one is crying their eyes out ) But why should I?
He: Because I am not.
I: (mock laugh ) Nice reason you give ha.
He: I have not reconciled. I am sure even you have not reconciled. But after me, you are the head of the family and if you do not talk, then there will be no one to look after her.

From there on, the conversation changed tones and it was more pleasant. He had had no idea what had happened, so he thought that it was the 15th. I let him know of the change. He enquired about the journey and then asked me to go back home so that I stay away from the heat for 2-3 days to get slowly re-acclimatised. He asked to have a haircut to which I said that I could not since it was a Tuesday. He seemed very happy to see me. I returned home after some time and stayed home for the whole day. I did not visit him during the evening visiting hours, but my entire family had come down to see him and possibly even me. I stayed overnight at the hospital, without letting him know of it and saw him early in the morning. He had improved to an extent, one could not imagine. He even drank coffee all by himself, resisting my efforts to hold the cup. He also made me have some of it. He asked me to get the newspapers. I had some tea myself, gave him the paper and returned home. My mom, my grandmother and I redistributed the chocolates that I had brought into packets for disbursal later. My mother told that she would give one chocolate to dad. I told her not to do so and not to try to veer away from the diet that the hospital was giving him.

His improvement was so pronounced that a shift to the wardroom was being contemplated. They said that they would do so the next day and for that, they decided to move him around in a wheelchair that day. In the evening visiting hours ( He was in ICU. We were not allowed to be with him all the time ), he persisted with the security guy and got himself out into the corridor to meet everyone outside. He talked with everyone wholeheartedly. When my cousin Pachu came in, he hugged and played with his cheeks like he did with me. He talked so very well, was in perfect mindset even quoting newspaper articles from different papers. He asked my grandmother ( they never talk to each other directly, maintaining some old tradition of the mother-in-law-son-in-law-mutual-silence-to-be-observed-when-in-person pact ) to return home as per scheduled plan now that he is perfectly fine and improving very well. Later I went into the ICU with him, where we talked about how to revive our home PC. He gave me a list of what to back up before installing Ubuntu. He admonished me for not getting anything for my sister’s husband and told me to give the shaving kit that I had bought for my dad, to him. Then the mixed vegetable soup arrived. He had half of it and made me drink the other half. He even defended the security guy against the authorities, who was being admonished for leaving my dad alone in the wheelchair. He was to have dialysis then so I left. I returned later at night, again without letting him know and stayed overnight outside the ICU. In the morning, he showed me his legs, which had till then been bandaged pretty tightly. He showed the parts that had improved and told that he was picking out the dried skin at some of the pieces. He asked me if Ashwat was coming, to which I replied, that he was most willing to do so but it wasn’t clear if he would. I said most of us at some level were vexed and some way or the other, needed a break back home. He replied saying that “you guys have so many facilities to communicate and still you guys feel so frustrated. think about those who were there a few years back”. He then said that in spite of the ticket to Hyderabad from Guntur being around Rs.15, he would think so much about it before actually making one such trip, during the times he lived alone. In the recent past, he was referring to those times frequently to me. He then asked me for the newspaper which I brought after having tea. He said that he would prefer staying in the ICU for another 2-3 days since there was no A/C room available. Those were exactly my feelings as I felt there wasn’t any need to rush this whole shifting-to-room process.

I returned home to have the haircut he had asked me to have. I even took before & after photos. Unexpectedly, I had to make the inevitable conversation with my sister and her husband. Tempers flew. I said what I had to say. Then I took her to her school for some paperwork. Returning home, I had one of the best mor-kozhambu+katthirikkai curry combo. I always brag that my dad is a far more accomplished cook than my mom, but I am sure if dad had had this, even he would say otherwise. I couldn’t savor it for long since mom had called from the hospital saying dad’s BP had gone down. Nothing serious, but still she asked me to come down. When I reached, she was worried. They had said that his heart rate had come down. My mother and my sister were performing Reiki and trying to heal him. I sat beside them for some time but left that place since I was getting only negative thoughts. Sometime later the doctor called me and my mother in and said that he had a cardiac arrest and was a bit critical. They said they would try using a ventilator and if necessary a pacemaker. The chances were bleak. My mom could not stay there anymore and left outside. I stayed there and saw him. They tried CPR, put the ventilator on, inserted an external pacemaker, thumped his chest and what not. His heart was contracting without any pumping power or rhythm. I saw this scene for about 30 minutes and all through this time, there was a line playing in my mind.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

The most difficult sight for any child is to see his father limp in spite of the doctors applying electrical shock. At about 3.40pm, his heart slowly gave way. I didn’t want to tell my mom. I asked the security guard to stay in, lest his face may give it away. I asked the doctor to inform my mom. I stayed in and waiting for the nurses to remove whatever they had to. I went in to see him.

The most difficult sight for any child is to see his father dead. I kissed him on the forehead, something I wish I had done before. I went out and told my mom myself. His brother and all his sisters were there. I decided I would not cry. I was now supposed to be the support for my mother. For most parts, I put up almost a smile, for he was lying in there, with almost a smile. He looked peaceful, something that was rare since his health problems started a few years back.

Now the mode shifted. It is so difficult for someone mourning to do the funeral arrangements, but in some strange way, it helps I tell you. It somehow makes it less personal for that small amount of time. There was all the help one could ask for. We got him home. A sea of people came and went. I almost still maintained my smile. I tried to stay as much as possible near my mom, but when I could not control my tears I left the place. I did not want her to see me weep. Later at night, I and my mom were forced to eat something by friends and family. Later, we slept. Around 230am, I woke up and walked around. In the cellar, I found my brother sleeping on my chitappa as if he were a 3-year-old who needed a paternal presence to sleep.

I have never felt more jealous than that ever.

I couldn’t control myself anymore. I cried like a kid on my mom saying I wanted my dad back. I took Yavvan to the terrace and talked for about an hour. I decided to get the smile back again and I failed miserably at that. I called and let as many of dad’s friends know as I could. People flooded in. The vaatthiyaar arrived in the afternoon. My chitappa was to perform all the rites on my behalf.

What with the atheist/agnostic/part following culture/whatever feelings that my dad and I shared as far as religion was concerned, it was strange to see my dad and myself with a naamam. I had very little to do with all the rites. For the first time, I properly put on a vaeshti( dhoti ). I saw rice burn in fire. I said to mom that we would give him a happy farewell from home and hopefully we did.
We reached Bansilalpet. From what I could gather, electric burial had been stopped and it would be a normal one. The rites resumed.

The most difficult sight for any child is to see his father’s face for the very last time. I kissed him one last time and then all was done.

We returned home to take bath and later have food. It was strange again, to be having food in the way I liked, but not in the manner I had planned. The scene was less teary, what with the kids being around. Time heals they say. Slowly should be appended to that. At some point in time in the evening, my mom said to me, that no amount of money can buy the family and the support we have.They helped a lot in every which way.

The next day, we had to pick up the ashes and so we planned to go to Beechpally ( Deechpally? ) to spray the ashes in the river. At the final moment, it was decided that we’d go to Nagarjuna Sagar. At Bansilalpet, a few more rites were performed. These were a bit interesting. The ashes were shaped in the form of a man and then fed some half-cooked stuff. This is supposedly for the unsettled spirits, who on eating these, are believed to think that the food at this place is not proper and that they would decide to leave the place in search of good food elsewhere. After that proper food like pori, boiled moong, milk and coconut water were given to the departed soul( coincidence being, all four are liked by my dad ). Then we picked the ashes and collected them in a pot.

The surviving male members of the Raghava Iyengar ( my paternal grandfather) clan started for Sagar. We had various discussions en route, their range being way too infinite for this post. We reached Sagar and did the needful there. We spent some time in the water, which was a sea change from the otherwise scorching heat. After lunch, we reached home and I am writing this after everyone has left.

The following are some of the feelings that I have gone through over the past 3 days:

Was he just waiting to see me so that he could leave?

Couldn’t I have come earlier than when I did?

Couldn’t I have just let mom take the chocolate and give it to him?

He didn’t see my laptop nor did he see the gift I brought him, which I was desperate for him to see.

Why did I have to delay my haircut by a day? Had I done it on Wednesday, he would have seen me as he wanted to.

With Pandu, Akshay, Diraj, Ashwat and I being the friends that we were, I always wanted us to all go out to lunch with all our parents. Why didn’t I do it before?

Why did I not say what I had to say on their wedding anniversary?

Why did I have to stay away from him the past year?

Also, there seems to have been some kind of premonition on my part. Maybe I was seeing signs. Maybe I am reading too much into things that happened. But these are some :

Around 20 days back, I had a dream in which I was attending a funeral. Initially, it seemed that a close school friend of mine had died but it changed to the death of his father. I woke up from it and called him enquiring his welfare. All was fine at the other end. But I felt something was wrong. I had never seen his father.

The day before he died, he was in the best of his spirits. As such I have not seen him being so expressive ever in his life, and so happy in the last few years. My mom even said that he was as happy as he was in their initial days of marriage, way before all these health troubles. I spent a lot of time with him and was very satisfied with his progress. But Yavvan said that I looked very worried that evening.

Never before was I present, when a doctor had summoned my mother to say my dad was serious. He had ALWAYS come through when that was said.

I was randomly seeing Google Maps a few days back and for some odd reason, zoomed in on Nagarjuna Sagar Dam.

I was helping a friend design a spinal disc implant, to be placed between vertebrae for spinal support. I picked one of my dad’s vertebrae in the ashes.

I do understand that it is a great loss for my mother and my dad’s siblings. But being the selfish person that I am, I am very jealous of them. They have so much more memories than I do. And more so because I had exactly planned to say this to him once he was moved to a room.

Appa, now that you are getting better and going to come out of the hospital in a few days, I want to tell this to you. What more do you want in life? I know you want your kids to be successful, but that aside, for yourself and mom, what is it that you want? I want for you to have a plan in this regard, something just for the two of you. You two have done more than your share in sacrificing your luxuries and in some cases necessities even, for our luxuries. You have never let us feel the need for having something because you have already fulfilled it before we felt the need. I think you have done enough and now it is time for yourself. Dad, you have so many strong views on current affairs. I want you to present them in some kind of a blog. I feel that I do not know you enough. I want to know more about you, the times you were in Nanguneri, in Nuzvid, when you were alone working, with the union, with mom. Everything. I want you to write those on a blog and send me daily. This way we both can have something more to look forward to each day. If there is anything else as well you can add it to your list. Same with you, mom. I hope you understand why I am saying this.

It hurts me so much more because, I wanted to know him more, I wanted him to know me more. It is gutting me to a stage that I cannot stand it and hence this post. I just wanted to get this out of me. I know it won’t die out any soon in me, but still, I am hoping that this helps a lot.

Now for the other side of things :

He was extremely happy to see me. I know that he was. My mom said that he boasted to her about my Orkut profile, quoting testimonials and telling her what my friends felt about me. He wanted me to study more and do whatever I wanted to do and that he would leave no stone unturned to see to it that I get to do what I wanted. That is enough motivation for me for this lifetime.

Just like any other story, even this one has a moral. If you think you have to say or do something, do it. Else, you will repent forever for not having done it.


Published by


I am a hypocrite.

27 thoughts on “My Dad”

  1. May his soul rest in peace…..

    I always have a lot of things that i want to express to my father. I hope i can muster enough courage to tell them.

    Rahul…wanted to talk to you ra…and at the same time didn’t want to (after hearing the news)….I had almost the same feelings when my grandpa passed away…..and then I knew…Time heals…


    The best blog that I have read..:)


  2. My Dear Curdy,
    Our experiences may differ but i think i know what you been through. My dad passed away 4 years ago when i was in 12th Grade. He passed away a day before his 47th birthday on republic day 2004. He was suffering from severe diabetes and liver cirrhosis. I was less fortunate than you in a sense that i was not able to have a proper conversation with him before he left. The night before he passed away he was only semi conscious, he called me and my brother to his side and asked us to rub his feet and then he talked about random things from the past. He spent the rest of the night singing ‘Harinama Keertana’ a malayalam mantra/ballad praising lord vishnu. None of us knew that he knew it by hard till that day. He passed away the next afternoon and was cremated at his ancestral home. It was horrible watching my brother cry as he had to help light his pier. The fake smiles and reconciliations of people who came for the funeral are the most unbearable. I actually felt a lot guilty after my dad passed away mainly because i feel to this day that i coulda and shoulda formed a warmer bond with him. My deepest condolences. I will pray.


  3. Dear Rahul,

    May his soul rest in peace….Pass on my condolences to your mom and sis….

    I still remember our conversation a couple of days before you had left to India (when you were shopping for the stuffs) and the enthusiasm in your voice still reverberates in me….

    Your Dad has left for a much better place…with God…I know this might sound too philosophical and out of the world… but thats the truth…..I will surely pray for him and the well being of your family in these testing times…..Be strong and brave…..I am here for you…..

    Thanks for such an insightful blog on a father son relationship…For all these years I have never musted enough courage to tell my Dad as to how much I love him and how much am grateful to him for whatever he has done to me….

    May God bless you….



  4. May his soul rest in peace…

    Few things are always meant to happen the way they are and we humans have so little to take them under our control.Try to be preoccupied with what ever you can:-), thats one thing which can make you feel good, rather better.


  5. Rahul,

    What you have written is almost exactly what I have been feeling for nearly all of the past 2 years. You have written about a father-son relationship, I have the analog of a mother-daughter relationship that I miss and cry about almost everyday. I can only tell you this….people who have left this world are in a better place, away from the sorrows and tears and hardships….we can be selfish and want them back…or we can think that they are more blessed than us. For a very long time, I hated God. I considered my mother’s death as a competition between me and God, which i lost. I thought it was unfair because he had all the cards. I still think that. Maybe I am wrong, I personally dont care. To console my grandparents i said it is selfish of us to cry and wish her back, I started believing it only very recently. I am continuously jealous of everyone who talks about their mother. I wish they would stop. I cannot rejoice in their happiness. I only wait for them to finish. When they talk about their moms defects I want to kick them. I want to scream and say she might not be there tomorrow and then how would you feel. I dont say it. Maybe because another part of me knows noone can live like that, thinking their loved ones will leave them the next day.

    I think I know exactly how you feel Rahul. I did not cry when she died. I had to be strong for my family. I had never seen my father cry and I wanted to be the one to console him. Some things just have to be done and Rahul, I am very proud of you to have accepted what you feel. I could not do it. I could not tell my friends what happened for a very long time. I was scared of breaking down. I still am. I think you will understand what this comment means now. This is the only way I can offer my condolences to you and your family.

    Take care of your family, your mother is right, not many people have that support. Your father will be with you always….I didnt believe my friend when she said this to me. But I realised it later….whatever decision I took, I thought about my mother and I knew what to do. She lives through me. And so will you father live through you.

    Remember the story we wrote about the two old people.


  6. @ aditya

    just do it i say

    @ ante reddy

    thanks for your words vishnu. in some esoteric way, may be it still isn’t too late.

    @ AB

    in times like these, one wants to change philosophical beliefs to console oneself. purely selfish reasons. but if they help us to be better served for future, then so be it. thanks da. i will need a lot of help from you once i get back.

    @ Dino

    in our english class, dath had the topic of man is the maker of his own destiny. i think situations like these obliterate most of the statements he made.

    @ siri

    as i said to you on the phone, i cannot imagine myself going through what you have. however difficult it is, we better move on. you have done it and i hope you’ll help me do it.

    and yes, i do remember the story we wrote about the two old people.


  7. are rahul….waseem called me to inform this as soon as he knew and believe me even though we were never very close but in some way u were and are a special friend to me and also my parents like u a lot for the kind of person u were…and this news is something which is very uneasy for me and thats the reason I cannot even gather guts to read past two paragraphs…and when I can even read this I can imagine the condition of person who went thru this,and what u know it better that ur mom and sis are the ones who should be strong and that can only happen if u are,u are a very good person and I believe u to be a very good son too.We all are with u at every phase of life…..


  8. May his soul rest in Peace.

    Arey Rahul, I am very very sorry for not being with you in this situation.
    When i heard this, i am about to come over there. But i am very scared of such situation watching my friend crying. And i am sure that you are brave enough to get on.

    And the only one thing in my mind when i am reading your blog – “the relation that i am sharing with my dad.” i am ashamed of it actually. Hope it might change. And THANKS for warning me about what i am going to lose if i wont change my realyion with my Dad.

    Take care.


  9. Rahul, I’m very very sorry for your loss. On behalf of Joshi too, please accept our condolences. May your Dad’s soul rest in peace

    Take care


  10. arey rahul i dont know wat to say..but I wanna talk to you u raa…..on conference with ash and varun tooo….

    Take Care.


  11. @ sandeep

    our school friends have been a great support to me in these times. even met anthony after 11 years. we shall always be there for each other in all times possible.

    @ harinath

    it is never too late. just a few words will help clear the clutter gathered over the years and then you will see the flow. i think in your case, you really need it more than others.

    @ Gulz

    a TM so terse. strange. thanks for your words 🙂


    we are all just a phone call away. 9440964394


  12. Dear Raul:

    I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your father. Reading your blog was truly heart felt. I could picture you sitting here talking about your family and father like we had on a couple of occasions. It was very obvious that you loved your family very much. I’m glad you were able to see and talk with your dad before his passing. It sounds like those last couple of days were very important for you and your family. God Bless you and your family. Thinking of you. Sharon


  13. Rahul,
    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. But at you least got to see him before he passed. I wouldn’t worry about your hair cut. It sounds like he was very happy to see you just as you were.

    It is hard to lose your parents, but time does heal.

    Let me know when you are back at UR.


  14. “We Rise from the sand and we disperse into sand.” I would quote this from the Quran for rahul, and wish and pray that his father’s soul rests in peace. It was something which I couldnt take and cant even comment on, I knew his dad, although not very well, I knew the relationship they shared and views they always had abt their PC (some memorable instances abt his and his dads I have memory of)………cant tell nethin on this as am remembering when my grandma expired a month ago and I was in the U.S. n cudnt even attend the funeral…………………………….I again wish n pray that his fathers soul rests in peace and god provides his family the courage to cope and move on and fufill his fathers ambitions and make him proud


  15. @ Sharon & Joan

    I can’t thank you enough for the maternal guidance you have given me while in Rochester. I shall come back in Fall and continue what I had started.


  16. I don even know if my comment would show up here coz I really don know how to use a blog.
    Sra bhai, may ur dad’s soul rest in peace. I feel really sorry for u and ur mom. Feel like talkin to u .. leave me a scrap wid ur fone number if possible.



  17. Rahul !
    I know people say its the moment when emotions overflow and you would not think the way you usually think..but I think I almost wept reading this..really sorry to hear this..but I am sure you will really will live strong from here as always..cheer up as they are many eyes who look up to you !

    P.s:Thanks for this very special post!


  18. @ Arvind

    Expectations –> Disappointment

    Expectations –> Hope

    Perspective. The choice is ours. I hope I have made the right choice.


  19. Rahul …..Great to see so many people comment on this Blog…Your Father would be really happy reading this blog [:)]….


  20. I can understand wat u have been going through , coz i have just tried to cum out of da pain of losing my father last year….. its hard, but time will surely heal every thing as it did to me… no worries…. rahul u are brave enough to handle dis from wat i have known u from years…… we shall surely pray for ur fathers soul n do remember he has gone to a very gud place trust me….

    rite now ur mom needs ur support its u who have to give her…. telling u frm my experience coz u r da responsible person now…..

    well wat u wrote really shed tears in my eyes…. well felt my father around me for a while reading ur blog…. if u ask ur father has not left u.. if u search well he is with u ppl ..just try to recollect him memories but dont break while recollecting them….

    wat u mentioned is rite we hardly have da courage to spk wid our dad… dont know y i still remember when u came to my fathers funeral and said u never meet him….

    i still repent tat i never introduced my frends to him…but tell u wat if u ask me i can count how many times i spoke wid him… that was my interaction wid him….

    may be its the fate of all human beings who have very little conversation wid their father than wat they have wid their mom….

    ur dad was a gr8 man… though i hardly know him he was a very gud human being….i still remember the pakodas he made when we were in our 10 th class tat tasted gud….

    yes wat u said was rite ” we need to express our feelings before its too late”…

    as i still repent for wat i could not say my father …i was so scared of him tat i didnt inform tat i got a job mom had to say finally…wat hurts me is i could not buy him atleast a shirt wid my money (though my sis was lucky enough to do so)….

    anyways rahul life does not stop here and we need to move on … hope god gives u da strength to overcome everything….

    remember he is watching u ,n his soul would be happy if u all r happy…

    may ur father soul rest in peace……..

    we all r wid u dude….just call us when u want to spk wid me …..



  21. You were lucky to see and talk to you dad. My dad died on july 12th,2008 and I couldn’t go.May the souls of our dads rest in peace


  22. I recently (about 45 days ago) lost my dad and was googling aimlessly about bansilalpet and hit upon this blog. Many things you mentioned are similar. I got the dreaded phone call from my mother to start immediately from USA to Hyd and took the next avaialble flight (thank goodness for Emirates, a flight was available from IAH and at a very reasonable cos). You are luckier than I am, I saw my father alive before his death but he was in coma due to cardiac arrest – they revived his heart but due to the time lag and lack of oxygen to the brain, brain death occurred. After being in coma for 27 days, he died with a second cardiac arrest. He was 74. Me and my two brothers also took him to bansilalpet and then greived along with my mother. We had the same discussion about going to Beechpally, but went instead to Vijayawada. We performed his funeral with full Hindu rites. I am still dreaming about his death and still cannot believe that he is dead. The life as I know has been shattered and it will be quite a long time before I recover. My mother probably suffers more, but she is somehow managing to cope with this.

    The final day of my father, he confided with his driver that this will likely be the last year, since some astrologist mentioned. Me and my father rarely talked about death and I wished I had talked to him more.


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