to the universe, for my father.

Photo taken with my Canon SLR. Encinitas, CA: May 2014
Dear Universe,
You may remember it as clear as I do. I’m in my room again, circa 1996. I have my headphones on and my new Walkman blasts In Bloom by Nirvana. It’s a Saturday morning that I don’t have to go help my parents in the office. I can feel the music in my veins and I don’t know it then, but I’m an empath like daddy so music enters my body with conviction. My window’s slightly open and I see the magazine collage on my wall and hear the gardeners mowing the lawn. I can smell spring. Life feels still in that moment.
It was a happy year. Things were good for my parents, we had moved to a new home, mom went back to work and had her own office. Daddy sang old movie songs in our kitchen and made homemade sauces, he had life in his eyes.

The first time I asked daddy where his sparkle went was when I was a sophomore in college. We were in line at the grocery store and I looked straight at him and asked him. He told me everything was fine. But I knew something was up.

2001. Sh*^ really hit the fan that year. My parents seemed stressed at work, (even though daddy never showed it to us), my younger sister was in high school and rebeling. Nothing serious, she was never a party girl, but things like blue hair and a Jewish boy who liked her were amongst the mix for my shocked Indian parents. But that was all stuff we could have handled.

It was the Ahmedabad earthquake that really got us. That swallowed mommy’s smiles and daddy’s faith.

My grandparents went to India with my mom to visit their motherland after a decade of being in the States with us. Before they left, I had secretly talked to my dada about helping mom and dad with office management and numbers since he was a math genius. He told me I should concentrate on studying, don’t worry about it and things were fine. I will promise to help when we are back, ok beta?

For many years of my grieving after that, I had always thought you may have taken dada away from us, because I had asked that.

I was young, but felt that there was a something greater working and if dada had helped, something would have shifted fate. And so you roared as the force of a city’s rumbles killed my strong, brilliant dada.

I’ll never in my life forget what it felt like watching my mommy and nani walk from baggage claim to our car without him. I’ll never forget how much my own father cried. Dada was like a father to him too, you know.

I’m not sure from then to now, how things got to where they are now.

Sometimes it seems like a blur. Like I can still hear daddy, his brown stylish dress shoes walking on the granite floors strongly, his humming making me smile and in turn, his eyes dancing as his 3 kids hug him home.

But daddy got sick. And we blamed all the things we thought, diet, lack of exercise, stress, but even amongst that stuff, we learned that it was his condition that was truly attacking him.

I came home from final exams in grad school and we all prayed in that ICU. You heard us, over and over.

And daddy, you know him, he’s a fighter. He woke up and he was with us. Things were ok for awhile. I moved to California, got married.

Daddy was so happy at my wedding.

But it happened again, he was in the hospital during a visit to see us and then during my yoga teacher training. I gave him news of a granddaughter, (now the love of his life). It gave him life all over again, his little Laila. He woke up, ready to love her.

 Nowadays, it’s been many times where we’ve been scared. I’m grateful you hear us and sometimes think, mommy and nani’s faith has given our family these chances at his life again. At our family’s life to be whole. It’s the prayers of all the people daddy helped and loved with his true to the bone kindness.

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