“Aa Raha hu Papa” : An Open Letter to My Superhero

An open letter to all superheroes without capes:

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Dear Papa

Mumma tells me that there was a day, when your face radiated a rainbow of emotions. Your tensed, worrisome face that pinned its hope on the change in colour of the red bulb of the Operation Theatre transitioned to a gleeful, childlike jump in the air when the doctor came out smiling. She distinctly remembers me, that you were the first person to kiss my forehead and hold my tiny fingers, while smiling adorably at me. Dadi told me that within the next hour, the entire neighbourhood had their mouths stuffed with laddoos.From not worrying about my deformed potato like figure when I was born, to holding my hand and teaching me how to walk, often I forgot about the superhero, that was always there to protect me. You, Papa, you were the silent superhero, fighting the world along with mom, to make me feel like the happiest kid in the world.

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Today, when I look at our old photographs, in those snapshots, your unwarped personality is something so golden and sacred that I want to keep it with me forever. They’re like an old movie reel, I can play at will. It was 2005, in the back lawn of our old house. Having never declined anyone of your ‘touching-the-sky’ rides, little did I realise that I was already hoisted in the air with both my legs secured on your shoulders. You spun like a shot-putter, but never let me go. The crimson red of the tree leaves and the green grass seemed like a blur and I felt like I was flying. The memory encompasses this smell of unconditional warmth and love, that emanated from you. The garden was in fine detail: the crab apple tree, the rhododendron bush and the weeds in the flower beds. But the finest detail existed in your face, creased with love and my joy- not only for the ride but for being with you, for being with my Dad.

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I often slept before you came home from office and went to school before you woke up, but not once did you let your temporary absence affect me in any way. Those Friday Night Ice-Creams at Kwality Walls, the intellectual long walks at the District Park near our home and those cute fights with mumma where you forced me to choose among you two amusingly, still seem so fresh. If mumma was the drawing in the empty colour book in my life, you were the crayons. As I grew up, and the practicalities of life started making some sense, I realized how you gave up on your dreams to make mine soar. Having worked hard without fail, I could never understand how that one good-night hug from you made three people smile at home, instead of one. Now, I probably do. I remember that time, when back in class 9, there was a school trip and the fees was quite hefty and beyond our economic status. I had hidden the trip notice and crumpled it in the lower zip of my school bag, hoping that you wouldn’t have to take the pains to bear the expenses of this trip and I’ll make-do with the pictures of the trips, my friends take. Next morning, while going to school, I saw the required amount folded neatly along with my lunch and a note that said: Have Fun, Junior! I remember my cab friends asking me about my watery eyes and noticing a mix of happy and sad expressions that morning. From comparing heights with me over the course of my teenage to helping me battle those anxiety demons before my Physics Exam, your teasing and pairing me up with every girl you saw on my Facebook feed to teaching me how to shave for the first time, our relationship has been a very poignant and warm one.

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As I write this letter to you, today, sitting on an isolated bench in a garden of a far-off city amidst unknown faces, I look at a father and a son walking hand in hand to the swings. “Beta idhar aao!” says the father. “Aa rha hu papa!” I say as I wipe uncontrollable tears coming out from my eyes brim with my emotions, as nostalgia invites me to take a peak again.

*Let him love you a bit more before you are not little anymore. Happy Father’s Day! :)”

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