Updated: Jun 19, 2021
As our father Man Singh ji turned 75 he began to be troubled by dementia. He had problems in dealing with time and space.
The once formidable, mentally, physically sharp, dapper man was now an absent minded, clumsy man. He wanted so hard to do the right thing, be thoughtful and be his usual considerate self, but age and health were not on his side.
His daily routine began with a visit to the Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, where he offered prayers of gratitude, listened to hymns, then returned home for breakfast after visiting the market to get himself, his assistant Sukesh, and his driver Feroz a drink of fresh sugarcane juice.
It was a calm and wonderful decade where we engaged in conversation on every topic as was possible under the circumstances, sometimes shedding tears and laughing often. Gone was the unpleasant combative nature of our deliberations to prove who was right, only to be replaced by what is right. Sometimes I just basked in father's presence with so much love flowing without feeling the need to speak or listen to one another.
One day father misjudged his movements and dropped a plate full of food onto the floor. The resulting big ugly mess upset and confused my father and he began to profusely apologise to me and Mohini. I was saddened to see the regression of a tiger of a man to a confused and timid kitten.
Instinctively, I stood up and simply hugged him and said "I love you Papa ji"
It was like time stood still, as we father and son embraced one another, sharing a true moment of pure love. Overflowing with emotion, and tears, for both of us it was a feeling of love and tenderness like none other.
I realised that, 'The elderly need so little, but they need that little so much'.
This was a profound experience for me. Though I got a lot of of love from my father, it was significantly less than that the other siblings got. It's so strange this human trait, we are never happy with what we receive, but become decidedly unhappy with what others receive.
Those who love, give so much of themselves and so freely that we seldom realise its value until they are no more with us. I was fortunate to realise it while Papa ji was with me.
On that day, when we embraced, and I uttered those simple but words 'I love you, Papa ji', I had some realisation of the priceless value of gratitude, unconditional love and tender care.