How do you celebrate a someone-very-special’s birthday who is no more? My father turned 68 a few weeks ago. He died in May last year. I can’t recall a time celebrating his birthday with him when he was around. He took it as just another day. At the most, we wished him happy birthday, and that too mostly on the phone as his job involved a lot of traveling or even living in other cities for long periods.
So his birthdays were very quiet – just like him. Now that he is not with us, we find it difficult to be quiet on his birthdays (or is it birth anniversary? The ever-so-helpful Quora had all kinds of interesting answers! Off the records, I love Quora!).
So this is how we individually celebrated our dear father’s birthday:
My ever-so-workaholic brother took a day off from work. He visited the gurudwara (temple) with my sister-in-law. On this day, he is sombre and more retrospective than he is on the other days. He is extremely emotional and on this very day his emotions can run absolutely loose if not taken care of. He is just quiet.
My mother, who misses him dearly every single day, misses him even more on this day. Tears roll down on my father’s birthday every minute. And why not? She was married to him for nearly forty years, never mind the fact that it was a flawed marriage with lots of more downs than ups. Like my brother, she goes to the gurudwara and donates lot of food – mostly the kind of food that my father liked to eat.
It is very strange that both my mother and brother are trying to set a ritual on my father’s birthday but I feel the best way to remember him, especially on his birthday, would be by doing things he liked or by not doing things he disliked.
- He didn’t like going to gurudwaras. Not that he was an atheist or agnostic, his pocket was once picked in a very busy and popular gurudwara of Delhi. That really ticked him off. Also, if there was one person who believed in work being worship, it was him! He rather work than visit temples or follow rituals.
- He didn’t eat much. I had never seen him being tempted by any food. He ate his three meals but always meagerly.
- He loved his drinks, especially after his dinner. Three pegs of his favourite whisky and he was the happiest person ever. And always satisfied. I remember having great table talks with him. Usually he carried his nightcap to his bedroom where he pondered for sometime before sleeping.
Unlike my family (and in no way am I condemning them – rather I respect the fact that they are trying to carve something new!), I did what he liked and didn’t what he disliked. After a not-so-very-busy day at work, I opened a bottle of Breezer (I am not a whisky person) at home after dinner and raised a toast to him. Happy birthday, pa! 🙂
(The picture above is of my father looking through the telescope after reaching the top of the Twin Towers in Petronas, Malaysia, a few years ago.)