I saw him after a long time and suddenly he looked much older and frail. And when I hugged him, he also seemed smaller. That’s when it hit me that my dad has really aged. Till that moment my dad was this invincible being that could take on everything and everyone. But this time when I went home, I saw him for him – not as a superhero but the father he is to me.
He is still the same – stubborn, funny, very hardworking, intense, difficult, generous, honest, short-tempered, silly, intelligent and loving. But he gets tired faster. His ulcers give him pain. His feet need to be massaged because of diabetes. His blood pressure gives him these agonizing headaches that deprives him of his sleep.
But despite all that, he still has time to cook my favourite fish dish. He still has patience to listen to me. He still loves to make me laugh with his silly jokes. He never gets sick of narrating stories of me when I was a baby. He still gets worried if I come home after 6 pm. He still wishes that I would dress a bit more girly. And he still wakes up at 2 am to check that I am properly tucked into bed.
So on the last night as I tucked him to bed, he hugged me and told me not to go. He jokingly said that I should quit my job, come home, marry a guy from the nearby village and give him lots of grandchildren. We laughed. But it also made me realise that one day all this would just be a memory. That one day he won’t be there with me.
As my dad drifted off to sleep, he sleepily asked me to tell him a story. I hugged him tight and told him silly stories about my life away from him. He let out a sleepy laugh, kissed my forehead, told me that he was so happy that I was home and that I should come home more often. I told him that I would and stayed with him until his arms around me became limp and he started to snore.