It was Saturday evening. We drove the kids to Lowe's to get new energy saver bulbs for our living room - we had bought the wrong size and finally got down to returning those and buying the right ones. This sort of thing is cause for high excitement for KB. He talks incessantly of the "burst" bulbs and how we need to go to Home D or Lowes to buy new ones. The two kids run around the mammoth store in utter delight and I shamelessly go around screaming like an uncouth villager, "KB, KB, NO NO, not so fast...stop!". And then lose track of him for a second and scream even louder with some threats added in. "Come now or I will leave you and go back home". And the little brat says with complete satisfaction, "Here Amma" and shows his face. Agonizing as it is at times to not be able to shop for a simple thing in peace, I still always take both kids to these places esp late evening when there aren't too many people, because I know how much they enjoy these kind of large stores. Especially when they are in the garden center there, they look so happy amongst all the plants and the little water fall structures.
While driving back home, we stopped at a red light. I turned to see an older man (an Indian) wearing white sneakers and neatly ironed pants and white full sleeved shirt. He had grey hair and was partly bald. It was around 7.30 pm, nearly dark then. That point in the day as it is makes me somewhat melancholic. Somehow the sight of this man reminded me of my father. He would go for long walks dressed the same way. Looking neat in ironed clothes. Many times, I would drop him at a shopping center a little distance away from my place, because it was too long to walk both ways. He would then walk around the open mall area and then walk back home. And sometimes make friends with fellow Indians or with some non-Indians who are either giving out pamphlets for their organization or have some kind of sales pitch. He would listen to them intently and even have questions for them. He would come back home and tell me the details of who said what or which "gentleman" he spoke to at the mall. I saw this man standing at the traffic light and I could bring back the picture of my father too doing the same. Waiting at the light and people watching in the meanwhile. I am still not able to get it out of my mind. It made me feel incredibly sad that all I had now was this very blurry image in my head of my father - you wish you could adjust the lens and get a clear glimpse of him in flesh and blood - that feeling when you see the image clearly and all feels right for the moment. I wish he had come with us to Lowes which he was sure to have if he had been alive. I imagine KB and KG constantly playing with him, wanting him to sit next to them and doting on him all the time.
I wish I could cry now but the tears don't come. The pain now is not raw but one that comes in flashes and leaves me feeling sad and nostalgic. He is not there to see my children now. It will be two years this coming January since he passed away. I was going to write a post about my MIL yesterday because it was her second year "Shraddh" ceremony. But seeing this man somehow made me write this post instead. I see so much of my father in KB - almost as if he is there in front of me - when KB does certain things. It is hard to explain but it is the kind of stuff that only the children know about their parents. The mannerisms, the slight lift of the feet while standing by the kitchen counter chatting, the playful smile while telling a joke when the punch line is about to hit you when you least expect it...things like that. Even at this tender age of three, one can see similarities. I am thankful for those moments when I see my father in KB. But I can't help but wish he was there with us...for my children especially. They just don't know what an amazing grand father he would have been for them. I just hope somehow somewhere they will know in just the way they turn out to be as adults.