I was around 10 or maybe 11 when I got my first and the last slap from my father. One morning, he was cutting my nails and I was getting hyper, fearing that the nail cutter will clip my finger along with the nail, I was scared, edgy, pulling back my hand constantly.. till my own fear became a reality. My pinkie finger got clipped with the nail. I was hysterical and so was he. My dad, now was mad at me for moving so much and causing this, with that came a real tight slap from him. My left cheek all red from the impact, the left ear trying to copy my cheek turned red too, few drops of red laced my yellow dress and they turned orange. I cried and I cried as my dad rushed me towards the basin to apply first aid. I was in pain but more hurt by the slap. After a while I stopped crying only sobbed as dad gave me some first aid. Dad was much calmer now but didn’t speak at all, just nursed my finger. We went out for an ice cream after that ! That day is etched in my memory and I guess his too.

That was the last slap I got from him. Somehow he never after that episode raised his hand on me. Maybe, he was always stayed guilty of hitting me. What I didn’t sense back then was, that he too was in deep pain or a sense of remorse. Now a parent myself, I feel him.

On his 67th birthday, 2 years back in April , he was with me, visiting me in Mumbai. I presented him with a smart phone on his birthday. He didn’t know how to operate on it so I sat with him to help, his nails were now brittle discoloured with yellow patches. This was the result of smoking. My dad was a chain smoker. I ran to my room and got my nail cutter and offered to cut his nails. He looked at me with love in his eyes and smilingly said, “Hope you won’t clip my finger with the nail like I did!”

That was his last birthday with me.

He was detected with grade 3 oesophageal cancer in October the same year. He left us 8 months after his birthday and 3 days after his 42nd marriage anniversary. He left us too soon. I often take deep breaths and call ‘Papaaaaa’. A cold wave sweeps over me, leaving me with goose bumps as he answers every time I call him. I know he still somewhere around. It is just that I can’t see him..


In the whispers of the night
as I glance the sky
I feel you guiding me to the Orion and to the clusters above
they hold a whole new world within , you would say..
you changed lanes and disappeared
leaving a void never be filled
faded into an unknown space
you left, leaving your fragrance felt
but where are you now ?

You were rare and unique
not understood by many
unwavering and resolute
dewy eyed and loving.
leaving behind your wisdom your light
I pledge to let it shine and spread to many.

Wish I had more time to make memories with you
more tales to tell my little ones
more laughter and hugs with you
more sharing of jokes and loves for songs.
wish I could learn some more from you
or just sit and listen to you.
I wish we had more time
but where are you now ?

Some say it’s destined
that you had to go
but I say that you had decided to go
you heard your calling and wanted to go back home
eschewing every bond
you shared your future
and wished for another life and another place
reminding me that the soul never dies
you were ready to decamp
but where are you now ?

I promise and pray that we will meet again soon
somewhere in this lifetime
I shall touch your hand
and somewhere I shall see you smile
as you spread your radiant light
you will live in me forever Pa..

I am sending you a copy of this
do read and tell me if I wrote alright
I promise to be a learner always
humble and loving to the core
and to walk as you taught.
wish to walk with you again
but where are you now…..?

© Preeti S. Manaktala

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