Discerning Differences In Displays Of Love

My father was a man of very few words. The only exceptions were hilarious dad jokes and long conversations with my mother — conversations that looked so pretty that I wished to have some like them in my life.

Since he didn’t talk much, I can’t start with a quote of wisdom from my father since I have never heard him say something about life, love, or other things in life that I could use as a paramount starting point.

What I do want to talk about, though, is the time I spent with him. You must be thinking, “This is just another essay where a daughter talks about her father; there’s nothing new to it.” Perhaps, but perhaps not.

When I think of my father, I don’t remember a man who sat me down and gave me advice about life. I do, however, remember a man who sat with me as I saw my first horror movie- The Exorcist- and laughed with me. I don’t remember a man who helped me study for exams, but I do remember a man who read his own travel books and made preparations for our next holiday while I studied for my exams. What I really remember, are his eyes.

India, specifically West Bengal, is a very festive place in October, and when I was about five or six years old, my father and I got to see Kolkata in all its’ October glory. I remember being dazzled by the street lights and all of the happy people on the roads. All the while, my father was smiling at my surprised eyes and animated face. This is my only memory with my father that I vividly remember from that age, and that smile has always been the most special smile in my life.

I think it takes a lot of time for any person to recognize and grasp the idea of true love, but when I look back now, I think I saw it in my father’s eyes. I think I saw it when he told me how exciting our journey to a new place was going to be. I think I heard it in his tender voice when he discussed the plans for our new home with my mother.

I, also, think I saw it in his anguished face when my mother died.

It was a point of no return. A point where I lost my father too. After his wife’s untimely death, he became a man so broken that the sight of him would break anyone and anything.

I didn’t see him suffer; I felt it. We all felt it. As the days went by, I saw a shadow of a person walking through life. He went on with life, as we all did, but it wasn’t life for him anymore. It was merely living in a body, for his children.

My father lost the love of his life, and we lost our father to alcohol and depression. He slept. He woke up. He ate. He worked. Every day was like this, and every night he drank to sleep. He drank to live, to wake up, and to take care of us the next day.

I lost my father to cirrhosis of the liver. It was too late when he was diagnosed, and he only lived another year. On the night of Christmas, eight years after my mother’s death, my father left us to be with her while we frantically tried to pick up the pieces.

We were well taken care of; we had everything we would ever need, except him- he made sure of that.

Today, writing about him, I wonder if I really understand what true love entails. But whatever it shows me in life, I will forever be indebted to his eyes.

Read more of Tannika’s writing at her Hope is Good page, and read her other posts for IBPF here.

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