Written by Vivette

During the wee hours of the morning, on January 30, 2020, I woke up abruptly to the deafening ring tone of my phone. My heart skipped a beat while my dad’s home nurse’s name flashed on the screen. She asked me to hurry down to the hospital. My heart rate sped up and I ran to my brother sleeping in the other room. We rushed to the hospital and on our way our aunt accidentally broke the news! I never wanted to hear it or to rightly put it, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t want it to happen now, for REAL!

We did not cry, perhaps we didn’t want to believe it until we saw my dad. Ofcourse, we believed in miracles and I didn’t want to think of the inevitable. I was running to the elevator like a nomad, I wish I could just fly right away and reach soon to room number 777. My mind went blank as we sprinted out of the lift on the seventh floor. As we hurriedly reached the room, I saw a composed mom sitting adjacent to him and YES! I figured it out from the silence inside the room, but still I didn’t want to believe it. I asked the staff nurse and she nodded. OH! Did someone just stab me with a knife? Can anyone just wake me up from my sleep? Could someone just tell me it was all just a dream?

We broke down completely, we were shattered. That very second I wished my Papa responded to us, I hoped he handed over his handkerchief asking me to wipe away my tears, I sincerely wished he hugged me tightly. But NO, how would he? He has joined his heavenly abode leaving all of us in excruciating pain. Speechless and in tears we sat crying like a toddler next to him. On January 30, 2020, my whole world collapsed! I stood there losing my dad to the most venomous cancer EVER!. My Papa was lying on the bed motionless, yet peaceful! Perhaps, he was happy that he no longer had to go through the humiliation caused by his aggressive cancer.

Ironically, just three months back to this traumatic incident, was I wondering what can death of a loved one do to you? Though I have heard people talking about losing their parents or loved ones, I have never really understood the magnitude of that grief. This mere thought even prompted me to write a short story about a cancer patient and I aimed at making that to a short film by February 2020. I remember telling my friend “I really do not know how cancer is and how a person gets affected by it, maybe, I need to read about it more.” Little did I know that I will soon have to witness my dad undergoing it.

In November 2019, I was ecstatic and making grand preparations because my parents were visiting us the following week in Singapore. Every now and then my husband and I were chalking out some gala plans so that we all could have a wonderful time together. ‘Which grab car should we avail while going to the church? Which restaurant to dine? Which room should be allocated to them? What should we prepare for breakfast on the day of their arrival and what not! Knowing Papa and his keen observation powers, I often wondered what he would have to say when he beholds the constant public service advertisements displayed on MRT, the cleanliness of Singapore, the elaborate transport system, the overall no hassle life. Beyond all
that, I wanted to see the glitter in his eyes when I would easily shrug off my responsibility of walking my son to and fro his school completely to Papa. Ah! I dreamt and dreamt and continued to count the days. But, all my dreams vanquished in a phone call, when my sister called me up to say Papa has been diagnosed of cancer and that he wouldn’t be able to make it anytime soon to Singapore. Although I kept on saying he will be cured, he never did. Quite contrary to my belief, the cancer had eaten him up terribly.

Within a month I saw a frail Papa, I gained all my strength and made sure neither would I ask him about his disease nor will I cry in front of him. I tried to make him happy and spoke about his favorite English films & novels, played his favorite Mohd.Rafi on my phone, massaged his feet while he rested on his bed. Not even once did I ask him, “Papa, are you tired?”, because I knew Papa wanted us to treat him normally. Every day I saw his health deteriorating. I tried to put a brave face while my heart sank, I smiled & laughed in front of him while I cried my lungs out inside the bathroom. I knew I was losing him when he stopped recognising his dear wife, his grandchildren and when he didn’t know what to say when I said ‘Papa, I love you.’ Finally, when I saw him in oxygen & food tubes I knew this was coming, but not so soon or I was waiting for a miracle to happen.

I wish I could hug you now Papa. Everyday I end up crying hoping you would hear me and call me ‘mole’. I wish I could tell Yohan that his Appappa will soon talk to him when he tells me he wants to talk to you. I wish I could just listen to Rafi’s songs without weeping. But I know it is an irreversible phase in my life and that there is no recovery from it. I realise I will have to live with this pain for the rest of my life; missing you each and every moment! Maybe I will be strong one day and whenever I think of you I would soon learn to live without shedding a tear. But Papa, I need you to know that I have always been super proud of you and I loved you unconditionally. We know your love for us was eternal! None like you and none would ever be, but this void is just irreplaceable!