Birthdays are big. They bring plans, cakes, cheer, and of course much joy. They ought not be marred by fear, by hope that keeps dragging us under long enough for us to gasp for breath and then releasing us to be able to bob at the surface for a while. It’s your birthday today papa and you need to wake up. Not because you need to cut a cake but for so many other reasons:
- The lemon tree in your front yard is full of ripe lemons and we know that no one is allowed to touch the fruits but you with your long bamboo stick with a crooked metal rod at the end. Only you can manoeuvre that thing and not harm a single branch (or human) while picking fruits from the higher up branches. So you need to get up and get going.
- Remember the asanas you taught me last time for my back? I have forgotten them all as always. You need to get up and teach those all over again, Pa. You know it better than me that Yoga is the only way to get it in shape. And you also know how forgetful I am. I promise to pay full attention this time. So get up and give us a demo?
- Just before you decided to take a long nap, I had figured out the healthiest muffin recipe there is. And was planning to bake it for your birthday. It is today and you need to give me a reason to take the darned baking pans out.
- Remember how you’d give all four of us a dressing down if there were even a faint hint of a frown on any of your grandkids’ faces? They are frowning a lot these days. We have spotted them sobbing into their pillows too, Pa. They deserve a smile, Pa. Wake up.
- You know how the Earth works, right? The whole deal with gravity holding it all together? Now imagine if it were put on snooze mode. Earth would fall apart, right? That is what is happening to our little world right now. We are falling apart. You need to wake up and put things in order.
- On your last visit, you had said that this time around you would fix the maali and get our garden in order. The maali is as negligent as ever and plants are fairly listless. You have to keep your promises, you know. Please wake up.
- The book! Remember the book with a piece by me? Mum said you wouldn’t say much to my face but read it out to every single person who comes to your home. Including the barber who can barely read. Your copy is waiting by your bedside pa. You need to get up and read it to everyone.
- Last week you had called and promised you will sort your books and get them all over. Some of them are older than us you had said. The shelves have been emptied and are waiting. And you know it better than anyone that it is not nice to keep anyone waiting. So get going, pack those books and get them over.
- Diwali is around the corner. And you always inspect the lighting. The lights should be checked now and be put soon. You need to be up to see that all the houses are well lit. The boys love the lights as much as you do. And they to are waiting for you to enjoy it all with them.
- You are blessed with a daft family. We can’t take a single step without your mumble of approval. You know that. Right now, we are a bunch of headless chickens. Come back quickly and take over, please? This is getting more and more insane by the day.
- Remember your favourite suit? The blue one? That is what I intend to wear this Diwali, Pa. And you are the only one to give a smile and nod of appreciation every time I manage to squeeze my way into it. It would be no fun to don it without your approval. So get up.
- The television in your room is silent and we have no idea what is happening around the world. We strain our ears to hear your voice over the din from the news channels, discussing it all with mum. Please come back and tell us what is wrong with the system.
- The older one is as confused as ever about what he wants to be. He intends to talk to you about civil services and know of your personal experiences of being a part of the system. None of us can do that for him. You need to help him. Wake up.
- The list can go on and on. But the most important thing is it is your birthday today. The younger one whispered last night, ‘Can I go and wish Dada a happy birthday tomorrow, ma?’ It breaks all our hearts to refuse. You need to get up and stare us down for bringing tears to his eyes.
I know that you are fighting hard, Pa. But you need to fight harder. This is not enough. You need to open those eyes and see us. You need to get up, Pa. The candles are waiting to be blown. The plans need to be discussed. The children need to be cheered up and you need to bring joy back in our lives. So be the warrior that you are and get up. We are waiting.