To Daddy

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Dad, do you remember
That creamy yellow t-shirt, which I wore
As a baby, with these words,
“I love Daddy” inscribed on it?
Look here is the picture of it!

I still love you, dad,
Twenty years later, from that day
When this picture was taken,
I still love you, for the way in which
You would come and wake me up
In the morning singing those stupid
Old Tamil songs into my ear, so loud
That I would get irritated and throw the pillows on you!

I still love you, for the way in which
You would hide money in your spectacle-case
Instead of your leather wallet, thinking
That I wouldn’t find out when I come asking for it!
And you would believe your money is
All safe inside it… until you find
Out how I’d emptied it, sneaking
In your room when you were away!

I still love you, for the way in which
You would crack those dirty shit-and-fart jokes
Right when mom would sit down to eat
(The thing she hates the most!)
And irritate her so much that she’d walk out
Angrily and you would sing an old Kishore da
Song to make her smile again!

I still love you, for the way in which
You would bore me to death
With all that philosophical talk of yours
And when I walk away, disregarding you,
You would say nothing
And with a serious nodding of the head
Would convey that I’m forgiven
When I would later come and say ‘sorry’!

I still love you, though you haven’t stopped
Smoking those cigarettes- they are so suffocating!
(Remember, you’d promised me long ago that you would?)
And taking rum, though I have shown you
So many newspaper articles that talk about
The ill-effects of alcohol consumption…
I care for you, dad, and I just can’t bear
To see those chest bones now jutting
Out of your thin, frail frame…

Oh! I know now what you’d say.
You’d talk about the inevitability of death,
That it must come one way or the other
And that it doesn’t matter…but not this way, dad,
Not this way, for, ever since you retired,
You have been shrinking into some lonely corner
And seem so distant, 
Though I have you seated right next to me…

© Vidya Venkat (2006)

Published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata

Published by Vidya Venkat

Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at SOAS, London. Formerly, journalist at The Hindu, Chennai.

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