I belong to a generation and, perhaps more importantly, a social milieu in which we didn't talk to our fathers. We were more intimate with our mothers; our relations with our fathers were formal. We also didn't talk much about death. We have a superstition that it would court bad luck. But our greater reticence, I feel, is about love. It is not that love is hidden—the stoic father who gives money to the son going away to college, asks if he has eaten or if he has kept the railway ticket safely, is showing love—but it is seldom expressed in language. I became a writer to point out what was left unsaid, not so much to unsay it as much as to gesture toward it. I wrote this poem after my recent visit to my father in Patna. I was accompanied by my 13-year-old son, Rahul.
In two years my father
will be ten short of turning hundred.
It is not easy to say:
You should get your will prepared
there will be problems for everyone later on.
But it is more difficult to say
that my own kids very easily say
in the other language:
"Dad, I miss you."
"Dad, I love you."
"Dad, don't go."