My father called. As always, I was busy. Sometimes I am rushing for lunch, at times I am engrossed in a movie. In the mornings I am driving to the office. Then, in the evenings, I am stuck in the traffic. For the better part of the day, I am scrambling here and there. This time, I was rushing for a meeting. So, I replied to him in monosyllable answers while I tackled more important matters at hand. After a while, it became difficult to keep track of his questions, to hide my indifferent tone and to put up a show.
I thought about telling him that I was busy, that I will call him later. But, isn't that what I told him yesterday? And the day before that? Why everything else takes priority over his calls? When was the last time I called him to know about how he is doing? Is he taking good care of himself? Is he taking his medicines on time? How is the work coming along at new office? Or simply how are you dad?
The realization dawned on me like a lightening flash -quick, illuminating and disarming. I stopped whatever I was doing. I settled on a nearby chair and closed my eyes. Then, I listened. I let his words reach me, pierce my exterior and have an impact. I had let this happen after a very long time, since I was a boy, before I grew up into an independent man. It surprised me. I was taken aback. The remoteness of the impact made me aware of a void located inside me.
I noticed the texture of his voice was not what it used to be. His ways had changed. He was no more the man instructing a young boy about what was right for him and what was wrong. He didn’t question his acts or the lack of it. He neither demanded nor questioned. He was, now, akin to the melody of a flowing stream —calm and pleasant —not demanding rapt attention, but expecting appreciative listening —Sometimes, occasionally.
His voice betrayed loneliness.
Then, it dawned on me and I realized that while I was growing up and growing wiser, during my years of teens and tweens, in midst of the years of my making and unmaking, in between my boyish crushes and manly fights; when I was running and scrambling to achieve this and attain that, stepping on the stones he carved out of his sweat and toil, out of his efforts and hard work, sacrificing his desires and neglecting his needs - my father has grown old.