He Lives in Me...

We don't give death that much of thought. While so many communities believe in the concept of an after-life, I have never bought into the premise. I think when a person dies, they stop to exist. Because the identity of a person is more than their body, it's who they are, their relationships with others and their interactions. Death brings an abrupt end to the whole thing. I know because I have lost three of my closest family members in the last two decades. 

"On the 8th of March, 2000, I lost my father. He'd been suffering from kidney failure and after a seven month ordeal followed by eight days in a coma, he opened his eyes, looked at me, smiled and passed away. My memories of him were that of a hero. I had worshipped him all my life. There was nothing he couldn't do. He loved me more than anything. And I'll never forget him."

That's how I summarize my father or his memory, when somebody asks. Somewhere down the line, his whole role in my life was reduced to this set of words written above. Because the truth is, we forget the dead. Is it out of sight, out of mind? Or do we need to forget them to keep living? I was too small to understand what losing a father meant when it happened. And so, I didn't cry. Everyone else was in tears and I just didn't wanna be another one of them. And I didn't feel too sad either.

I am a writer and usually when I watch a movie or a tv show, or when I read a book, and some character dies in them, I analyze if the death was justified to the story or not. For example, when Denzel Washington dies off screen at the end in 'A Man on Fire', I found his death completely justified. He had served his purpose in the story. And it was time for him to go. Similarly, I feel like my father died just when he had to. Very few people knew him, at the end, as closely as I did. He had been sad for years, rejected and broken. Had he lived any longer, he'd have become the shadow of the man he was. So the timing of the death was very apt. He died, forever leaving a legacy of laughter and grateful people behind.

Somewhere through the years, I forgot my father. Yesterday, while I looked at an old picture, I realized that I don't even remember his face now, his expressions, his laughter, his scowl, his voice. It's all lost in my memory somewhere. And I became sad at the realization. Until I realized that my father still lives. In my mind, as a faint memory of the person he once was. A memory which isn't necessarily an accurate depiction of the living person he was, but rather it's the person I miss in my life.

His memory has eroded over time, as I grew up. But it has evolved. His memory became a person. A person I wanted in my life. I was ten years old when he died, so practically, I didn't know my father all that well. If I weren't his son and if I met him today, I might not have even liked him. But the person in my mind, the person that is partly made up of the faint memories I have of him and partly by the need I felt for a father after he died, is amazing. I'd always love that person, maybe more than I loved my father when he was alive. Because he was always there with me.

That person in my mind, who looks like my father and feels like my father, was the one who helped shape my personality, at least whatever's good about it. And come to think of it, that is my father's legacy, after all. That person in my mind is what is left of him. All his flaws from when he was alive, washed away with his death. But everything great and pure about him, stayed with me, lived with me. Still lives with me.


  1. We have never met. But, some one had told me something about you in 2004-05. Just saw your FB page in my suggestions. So, dropped in to check and came across this. Very deep and thoughtful. These experiences have enriched you and made you very matured.


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