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When my dad died
I looked at his house, his room, his garden

By Mandana Ahsani
October 20, 2003
The Iranian

When my dad died, I was far away from him, miles and miles away from him. When my dad died, he did not have anybody from his family around him. I was not there to hold his hand and hear his prayers. I was so far away that it took me two days to get there and see his lifeless body. When my dad died, I was so entangled in my useless life that I did not understand the depth of the tragedy, of what happened to me... that now I have became an orphan, that I have lost my daddy...

His journey towards his death started five months earlier, when he had a stroke. When my mom called to give me the news, I thought I had lost him already. He was in the ICU and I thought I had lost him. I asked my mom to keep him alive till I get there. Then, I packed my luggage and with my then 3-year-old son went home, to his hospital bed. And, I went to see him right away.

I now remember him and his face vividly. It was 3 o'clock in the morning, I begged the nurse to let me see him and she let me in the room for 5 minutes. His eyes shined with tears, he had question in his eyes, as if he was asking me what I was doing there. I kissed his hands. I kissed his eyes, I kissed his forehead and I said to him not to worry and that I would take care of everything. I said to him I would take care of him.

I stayed with him for four months. He never recovered from his stroke. I remember the first month or so when I used to cry myself to sleep at nights. I would listen to the clock's tic tac and try to sleep so that I would have the energy to go the hospital in the morning. There were times I could not bear seeing him in there. One day, I sneaked my son into the hospital, so that he could visit his youngest grandson. My dad cried, I wiped out a tear that rolled from the corner of his eyes. My son said grandpa has a booboo in his nose? And I said yes.

A couple of times I put him in a wheelchair and took him down to the hospital yard. It was spring then. Couple of times, we got to watch the rain together. I told him it had been fifteen years since I had seen spring in Tehran. Couple of times, he tried to talk to me. But, he had no voice, he could not talk. I told him what had happened, and I assured him I was in control and not to worry about anything. He would just look at me, with those big colorful eyes. We would hold hands, I would stroke his beautiful big white hands. Those were the hands that used to hold me when I was a kid. I used to think he had the largest hands.

When I took him back to the hospital the second time, he was unconscious, he was almost gone. I held his hands and said to him not to resist it, I was crying like hell, I could not bear see him suffer so much. I wanted him to be relieved. But he fought it, and he got over the pneumonia and the infection and a host of other problems. I think, at that time he still wanted to live, he still had the desire to live.

Yet, he never fully recovered. He only got weaker and weaker, and went down into his own world. And, then we had to leave. The night I had to say goodbye, he looked into my eyes and his eyes filled up with tears. We held hands for a long time, I told him I had to go, that the kids had to go back to school, that I will be back real soon, and I would see him real soon. He just held my arms with his good hand and looked into my eyes, and I asked him to kiss me, and he did so, or he tried to, and then he closed his eyes, and I left him. I did not look back; I just left him.

A month later, I got the call. He passed away, his heart stopped beating, without me being there, without me holding his hand. I went home again, this time without my child. All alone, I went back to bury my dad...

When I looked at his house, his room, his garden with those orange, plum and walnut trees, I wanted to scream to the world and cry hard; I wanted to tell everyone that my dad had died, that he had left his little girl alone in this world, that now I had to fight all the demons of my life alone, that I was feel lonely, scared and hopeless... But I didn't. I packed his house, took care of his funeral, gave away his belongings, locked up his house and came back home. And this time, I came home all alone...

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