It has been months since I wrote anything. And I have not even been visiting other bloggers.
Somehow, I could not do both these things, and I have no excuse, other than being very lazy.
Maybe, it was a writer's block, I don't know. I am sure we all go through this phase sometime or other in our lives.
On December 26th 2015, my father was finally released from this world. He passed away without much struggle.
Before he passed away, he had his wish fulfilled: that is visiting his home town Srirangam for the Vaikuntha Ekadasi, which is very auspicious for all Tamil Brahmins. He has been visiting his home town ever year for this festival. My brother made arrangements to take him by Taxi and also stay in his ancestral home there. My father was very happy, and was extremely talkative with all his near and dear ones who came to visit him. He could not place any of them very clearly, but he was vaguely aware of some of the events in their lives and was happily recounting them. He stayed in Srirangam for about 5 days, and kept telling to my brother, that he would die within a week or so.
When the day came for them to leave for Madras, he became very adamant and would not leave his house, holding on tightly to the railing of the staircase. With great difficulty, my brother had to carry him to the waiting taxi to go back home.
When he arrived in Madras, there too he created a big drama saying he will not climb up to the house holding with iron grip the gate of the house. However, he was finally carried upstairs. Dealing with Dementia patient can be very, very tough, and we must give full marks to my brother and his wife for bearing everything .
21st December 2015 was Vaikuntha Ekadasi and my father was there in Srirangam by 18th December. They were there till the 23rd December.
The significance of Vaikuntha Ekadasi:
There are 24 Ekadasis observed by Hindus during the year. Of these Vaikunda Ekadasi celebrated in the Tamil month Margazhi (Dec-Jan) is considered very auspicious. On this day people accompany the Lord to the doors of Heaven (SorgaVasal, Sorgam - Heaven/Vasal - Doors). In all temples the Sorgavasal will remain opened on this day. People remain awake the previous night and go to the temple early in the morning to enter the Sorgavasal. People take up fasting on this day for all their wishes to come true. It is believed that one who worships Lord Vishnu on this day will reach Vaikunta (Heaven). This festival is of great significance at all Balaji Temples especially at Tirupati and also at Srirangam.
We all feel so happy that the wish of our father finally got fulfilled, even though he did not die there, still he had the good fortune of being there at that auspicious moment, and just as he had predicted he left this world within a week. I believe only very good people are taken away by God in this manner.
My chithi (my mother's younger sister), too had a very dramatic and good death many years ago on this Ekadasi day. She was absolutely normal on that day and had gone with her daughter in law to visit the famous Parthasarthy temple in Triplicane Madras, and after darshan, she suddenly felt very uneasy, and just dropped dead right there (silent heart attack).
Back to our father.
On the 26th morning he seemed very normal, had his morning tea, and since he doesn't take breakfast, he was about to have his lunch as usual at around 10 am. However on that day he told my brother that he was not hungry, but my brother persuaded him to at least have some curd rice. While my brother went to bring it to him, he suddenly heard my father wheezing very violently. He was shocked for our father never had any kind of wheezing problems, he suddenly was not able to breathe properly also. My brother immediately took him to a big hospital which is just 2 minutes from our house, and there the doctors tried giving him Oxygen, but our father was in no position to take it also. They tried their level best, but he kept on struggling to breathe and finally had an heart attack and died there within minutes.
To think it was the same hospital, where our father had taken our mother to get her treated for her chronic knee pain, and had to see her get a massive heart attack without any warning.
Our father's death although was sad, we still feel, he was finally free, which is what people of his age (94 years) yearn for. And also in his condition, death was welcome.
He would always say in his dementia affected state, that he could see people coming and eating after his death, the house is full of relatives and friends, the priests doing the puja for his safe passage from this earth and so on... that amma (our mother) is waiting for him.....
We are sure that wherever he is, he is safe and peaceful with his creator: he has passed through the "Sorga Vasal".
Your life has ended, but your legacy of wisdom, integrity and courage will go on forever. We miss you Appa.