The silence that comes with death – remembering Appa
When Appa was diagnosed with a terminal illness 9 years ago, he set about planning life after him. He paid all his bills and ensured the money they had saved up was in secure places, garnering sufficient interest to pay my mother's keep. Then one night, while he was still mobile, he handed me a long checklist, neatly written on the back of recycled paper, which he used for everything except important correspondence, with all items on the list checked off. There clearly was nothing left for us kids to do. He had taken care of everything in meticulous detail, as was his nature. He then neatly put away all his files and stationery never to touch them again, or so he may have realised. The next morning he fainted as he was brushing his teeth, and when he came to, we took him to the hospital. He left his beloved house without a second glance and never to return. When he regained strength at the hospital, he read the paper, even attempted to write a letter to the editor, signed some cheques and enquired after some medical reimbursement claims he had made. Two weeks in, as though sensing his end was near, he was still alert but no longer interested in anything. He became quieter, more inner focussed and calm. He even stopped signing documents because his hand was unsteady and his writing squiggly. When I spoke to him about income I had generated for the company for which I had appointed him Director, he did not crack a smile as he would have done in the past. He just solemnly told me to “always keep my word”. When I told him that I was renovating the flat that he had so lovingly scoped out and purchased on my behalf, promising him he would be well enough to see it, he just nodded. This was the man who had brimmed over with excitement and pride, when he had taken me to see this flat that he had picked for me. He had been ecstatic when I had finally seen it and told him how happy I was with this great “find”. This was also the man who had taken great interest in life and lived it with gusto. He had enjoyed his flat by the beach, his long morning walks in his borough and the food my mother lovingly cooked him; he had admired and appreciated all things beautiful in nuanced detail and had been passionate in his support of the underdog. When he fell quiet I understood what it meant to die. If such a man did not care about anything as death neared, there really must be nothing at all, to our everyday clamour, I realized. What I had known intellectually all along, I knew experientially, then. He would have been gone 9 years this 4th of December and his absence has left a deafening silence for us all - but he left it all quiet peacefully.