I was fifteen when my father died. I was a clueless, spaced-out teenager secluded in my private mental world. During my father’s wake, people came in and out of our house. Many of them I know, and many I do not know. I watched, disinterestedly, as people cried and recited or sang their very sad eulogies.
I did not shed a tear.
My elder sister asked me if I did not miss my father. I just stared at her. I did not know what to say to her.
Yes, I did not miss my father.
People were crying because my father died. They said he passed on, finally, after suffering from a long illness.
He died and I did not cry, because I did not miss him.
I did not know what death means.
My father, because of his work, spent a lot of time away from home. He came home on weekends, usually, but sometimes, he showed up after two or more weekends had passed.
Many months have passed since my father’s death. It has been a very longtime; I started to notice his absence. I started to miss him, badly. I know in my mind that he had died. Everybody knows that too. I had seen him sick, paralyzed, emaciated beyond recognition.
For days, family, friends and strangers alike watched a gaunt body lying still in a coffin . . . and then, when the appointed day came, the men quickly lifted the coffin and hastened off to the mountains to bury it.
But for some reason, an unknown, mysterious reason, I expected my father to just show up – one day – just like the many weekends he always showed up, without fail.
A year passed and my father never showed up!
In that moment, I got it – what they say death means – it is the reason people got very sad and cried.
Then I started crying, every night, for many years.