I cannot truly say that I do not know him. I have his blood running through my veins. I know from a couple of black and white, dog-eared photographs that I look like him. My eyes, I’ve inherited from Mother. Otherwise, I’m quite unlike her. I laugh a lot. Aloud. Drawing disapproval from Mother. She would be happier if I were more mellowed. I know that my raucousness is a paternal inheritance. At least, I like to think so.
Other than my flesh and bones and the genes, which are constant reminders of my connection with him, and the very few sepia-toned photographs, I have no memories of Father–none whatsoever. Not even of the affectionate kiss (mother told me) he planted on my cheek, as he battled a rheumatic heart condition in a suburban hospital. Even in his condition, she said, he asked to see me and sat up to hold me in his arms. She wants to reassure me, I think, that in the two-month relationship we had as father and child, he did his bit. It makes me feel good to know that he loved me, short though our association was. I have had to visualise this description in my mind’s eye to create a memory, and I have done so umpteen times, all through these years. It has now assumed the character of actual recall and I can feel the warmth of his breath and the tender brushing of his lips on my cheeks.
I think of Father sometimes, of what I have missed. I gather snippets about him from Mother, my uncles and aunts and relatives who knew him well. My quest, to get to know him, continues. Here is what I wrote a few years ago: