I am here not to mourn the passing of my father, but to celebrate the richness of his life. Celebration begets gratitude. So let me begin by saying a huge Thank You! to all whose help, support and concern have meant the world to us. From medical to spiritual, emotional and physical care, you tided the three of us- Dad, Mum and myself through these trying times. You have been and continue to be indispensable.
You know who you are. To each of you here who knew Albert, he would have loved to say to you- Dev Borem Korum! (Thank You in Konkani).
Had it been up to my dad, he would have said at this point, “Nice speech Nicky, thank you! That will be all.” Unfortunately for him, I inherited his stubbornness. So here goes:
Albert was well versed in the role of being a father figure. He had much exposure even before me. No, it’s not what you think. I am his only biological child (princess, if I am honest). He first fathered his own siblings- six of them, when they lost their father prematurely. Subsequently he readily took on the mantle of provider and mentor to friends, nieces, nephews, 32nd cousins and complete strangers.
He was most at ease and peace when he could be there for someone in need. I will refrain from saying anymore because I respect his firm belief of “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is up to”. Might I add, he always said this with a naughty twinkle in his eye.
In celebrating Albert’s life, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention his cherished and sometimes crazy desire to travel. When in college at Mangalore (350 km or 8 hours from home) I often received a call from him saying, “Get ready in 20 min, we’re going out.” Much to my mother’s chagrin he often hopped onto a train, bus or plane – on the spur of the moment- to explore the world and see his baby girl. He more than made up to Mama these last two years, taking her all over the globe and partially satiating his travel hunger.
To my mother and the love of Albert’s life; Mama, know that he held you in a very special place. Though he might not have said it in so many words, – we know he was a man of minimum words and maximum action; YOU made his life complete. You were his first “Best Girl in the Whole World”!
My father often told me how he played the song, “You’ll never know how much I love you”, when I was born. Perhaps I may never fully comprehend his love, but the day he died, I got a taste.
He endured excruciating pain to wait until I arrived from another continent. We spoke and I held him as he passed.
My greatest consolation through these waves of grief, is that he is truly in a better place and not in pain anymore.
Of course, memories help- of us “King-fishing” (read spotting and counting Kingfishers in paddy fields), stepping hard on his toes learning an awkward waltz, devouring roadside tea and bhajis (veggies deep fried in batter), long bike rides to the beach and deep conversations on life, love and football.
As I bid a physical adieu to the remains of my father, I wish to answer a question many have asked me since he died. “What can I do to help?”
In Albert’s memory, help someone in need- no matter if it’s a child, a street dog or a stranger. Or maybe plant a tree. Let’s spread some goodness.
And finally, to my favourite dance partner, my father and my friend; it is an honour to be your daughter. You died knowing your legacy lives on and I promise to do my best.
On behalf of all your family and friends, Adeus Dada, until we meet again.