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.

He’s the type of man who if you were a stranger he had just met and told about how you missed eating home cooked food because you were apart from your family, an immigrant from far away, he would bring you a home cooked meal the very next day somehow. And almost every time he saw you.
He’s the type of man who doesn’t flip greeting cards over for their prices, but just finds the one whose words fits his feelings best. And he always gets the perfect one, spot on.
He’s the type of dad who never short changes us of love. Ever. I mean that.
I’ve been back to NY to visit them over and over since I moved. But his past visit to California a few months ago broke me. His gentle love and quiet way of being here, it filled my home. I was a wreck when my parents left. I couldn’t wait for this trip I am taking there in a few days to see them.

And now this. Back in that hospital. Stuffy, scary, sterile.

He hates it there. And since sometimes those hospitals make things worse, we all are on edge. Just before, a nurse tried to put a feeding tube in his nose, even though my mom was able to feed him through the mouth, but couldn’t get it through and caused him to bleed all over the place. His platelets are low so he ended up in the ICU. It’s things like that, you know, that just shouldn’t happen.

But they do.

And even when they say he will be home in a few days, I am hoping it’s true. But I don’t know with you and how you work and what the stars have in line for us.

I just don’t know.

And everyone else seems to know things. All the advice. He should do this, do that, try this, don’t eat that. It kind of feels like a whirlwind when you are going through it if you have ever had a loved one who’s ill.

It’s when I hear him screaming in the background, from pain, while on the phone with my aunt yesterday, that I cry. That I feel like screaming. Because he’s in pain from the bleeding in his nose that the nurse screwed up by failing at the tube I mentioned before, (you can guess I am not all peaches and smiles about that one).

Sometimes  I want to scream into your air and say, I want my lively daddy back! Give me my mommy in her happiest moment! A time where when she wasn’t stressed, beat down or scared. And my sweet little brother, who has had to grow up so fast, my whole extended family who waits in that hospital room with him, praying, praying.

I want to to ask you why, why, why. But I don’t.

 I know you have your reasons. I know he hasn’t taken care of himself in the past the way the doctors or everyone tells him he should have. Why didn’t he exercise? they said. Why didn’t he take his meds on time back then? But he was helping a whole extended family get on their feet. He was doing the best he could ever do. He was loving and giving. But there are reasons beyond our control, you would say. Even though he has the sweetest heart. I get it. But I know plenty of people who do far worse to their bodies and they remain untouched. Okay…it is beyond all that.
And so if I tell you…he does everything now…takes his medicines, tries everything we tell him to do, he wants this chance just as badly as we do. Will you hear it?
I just want the suffering to end. I want him to live without pain. To be able to lift up my daughter to the sky the way he wants to. The way his eyes tell me when I see him get tired when they giggle together. The medicine is numbing him and causing more side effects. The dialysis is draining him in more ways I can describe. And I’m doing everything I can. We all are. Helping them with Ayurvedic therapies, looking for and implementing new treatments, researching everywhere for the transplant, calling his doctors.  Still praying. Still finding positive thought. But it never feels like it’s enough. So we do more and more.

And I can’t help it that I believe in miracles.

My father always reminded me that I was his miracle, the less than 2 lb. premature infant who fit in the palm of his hand, back when there weren’t these super fancy NICU’s. It was mantras in their puja, their prayers that kept me going, they said.

So here I am now, chanting mantras and praying for him.

You would tell me, let it be. The way it happens, it will happen, I know. But you see, my heart is a fighter when it comes to our beloved dad. The way he is when he’s on that hospital bed. A fighter til’ the end.

It was in my heart I heard you whisper that its not the end. It might have been just the winds, but even as a child, I could hear you tell me truths.

So I’m responding to your winds, universe, to bring stillness to our days again, in the most quiet and peaceful way so our family can dance again, in joy at my fathers health. I want him to feel happiness run through his veins and the sparkle return in his eyes. This is my open heart intention I set out to you. The only one Ill ask you. Please.





  1. Neha says:

    Ohhhh Puja….. Your heartfelt loving words have brought tears to my eyes…. Sending up a prayer for Uncle, you and the family ….love and hugs sent your way….Asking for that miracle….

  2. Puja says:

    thank you N, love you.


  1. […] few months ago, we spoke about my father. I had reached out to you to return the sparkle to daddy’s […]