Monday, April 27, 2009

Loneliness sobers

At 66, he confessed that loneliness knows no age – it strikes anyone, anywhere. And loneliness cannot be explained – it has to be personally experienced to be understood. He has probably not felt lonelier than he does now, with the absence of his wife who has never left home for more than a month at a stretch. She is halfway across the world in dark and dreary London, to care for her daughter who has just given birth to a lovely baby son. 

He used to live his life around a fixed routine – waking at half past five in the morning, have a simple breakfast made up of two slices of plain bread and a cup of hot drink, then jog for an hour at the park nearby, before heading to his shop to clean up the drains and surroundings, picking up dried leaves, watering and trimming the plants. He comes home by noon, cooks himself a simple lunch of plain porridge with lots of vegetables and a few slices of fish, reads the newspapers for a couple of hours before taking his nap. He wakes in the evening to go out for dinner with his wife, strolls by the beach as the night wears on, before heading home to read some more, and off to bed by half past ten. 

He seemed perfectly fine with this routine, until his wife left for London. He initially tried to stick to the routine still, but after a few days, the reality of being absolutely alone sunk in. He started to loathe the emptiness in the house, of not having someone at home to talk to, to banter with. He dreaded returning to a lifeless, concrete enclosure, and would rather hang out in coffee shops and eating places with old friends and chat till the wee hours of the morning. 

Such is the power of loneliness that it has made him sober up in his parenting and social skills. He has time, lots of it, to reflect on his strict upbringing of his four children, who are now residing in various parts of the world, returning home to visit far fewer times than he would have preferred, given the geographical distance in between. He is sorry for his lack of tact in his interaction with his family and friends. 

At 66, he is making a conscious effort to be tactful, patient, gracious, caring and loving. For this I am extremely proud of hm. He is my father. 

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