Pic.: Jennifer Rebello
Every time I call my mom (who lives in my hometown, Mangalore) to wish her a happy New Year, she doesn’t forget to remind me – and all her five sons – of our dad. She does it before the call ends. So, yesterday, she did it, again… “Son, it will be thirty-two years tomorrow,” she said gently, “since dad passed away.”
Thirty-two years ago, the New-Year had come on a Saturday. My dad, who loved life to the hilt, had a great time through the Christmas week which had continued till 1st. So, on the 2nd Jan, Sunday, morning, he had dressed up to go for the mass. Then, he asked my mom to proceed saying he was feeling very uneasy. He stayed back. When my mom returned from the church, she found dad on the same sofa, in the same position… He had died of a massive heart attack!
Honestly, despite my mom reminding me on every New-year day of our dad’s death on 2nd Jan, I simply forget about it… Now, I know that I loved and revered my dad a lot… Then, how come my mom has to remind me of this every time?
I take heart in the fact that my mom doesn’t talk about our dad’s death to make us, her sons, feel guilty or sad. She doesn’t expect us to remember the date… It is just that she cannot forget about it… It is just that she has to speak about it… It is just that it is very, very important for her, that she should keep dad in mind… and, perhaps – I said perhaps – it is very, very important for her that she should remind her sons about it…
Yes, our mom doesn’t expect us to remember 2nd Jan…
But, we are expected to!
A while ago, my younger brother, Rony, who lives in Kuwait, had called to wish me a happy New-year. When I pointed to him about this tradition of mom, he light-heartedly said, “That’s our mom’s Passover… It is her way of telling us: ‘Sons, remember this day’!
Yes, she will not tell us this… But, we are expected to remember!
In my first batch, this morning, I casually asked some of my students if they had burnt the old man on the New-year eve…
They looked at me sounding clueless!
It did not take even a second for me to realize that nobody burns an old-man these days. So, I had to tell them something about this tradition… and, I did it the way I had understood it (not when I was their age… but, much later)…
The old-man symbolized our old self… our past… particularly the past filled with sorrow, regrets, anger, revenge, self-pity, jealousy, insecurity, despair, hopelessness and all such negativity… We were expected to literally cast all our negativity into the old-man’s effigy and set him on fire… That was the death of our old self… our negative past… There, it went in smoke!
For the new to come, the old has to go. How else, can it be a New Year?
Does my mom hold back to her past by remembering my dad on every 2nd Jan, even after thirty-two years?
No, I don’t think so.
Remembrance – the Passover – is spiritual in nature… It only makes one strong… and a more compassionate soul.
Life needs them!