It was a rough landing when aircraft came to an abrupt halt. It was taxing painfully slow. I was in a desperate hurry to get off the plane. My father-in-law was no more. My mind was numb. My hands trembled as I tried to call my husband. He was in the Merchant navy, sailing the high seas completely unaware of the situation. Multiple calls on the ship’s satellite phone went unanswered.
Hard decisions had to be made. Should we wait for him or should we go ahead? It just didn’t feel right. I am not going to take away this final decision from a son.
He had to know. I decided to break the sad news in an email informing what had happened.
I knew I had to wait for him to reply. Finally the call did come few hours later.
“Hi! How’s mom? How is she holding up?”, Sam asked.
“Things are under control now. I was frantically trying to reach you. Why didn’t you answer the calls last night? “, I questioned back.
“I picked up the call but couldn’t hear you due to bad network. It was a dark stormy night and the sea was rough. It was important to stabilize the ship at that time so I had no time to call back. And I called you as soon as I have the situation under control” came the reply.
“I need to know how soon you can get back home. Should we wait for you?
I waited eagerly for my answer.
“No. You all carry on. Best is to go ahead with final preparation without me so as not to prolong the pain for mom”. He further carried on .. “ I am mid-sea and cannot sign off until I reach the next port which is six days away. Besides the company will have to arrange a relief Captain to take charge of the ship before I can be sent home. To add to this, the company will have to arrange for the visa and fly in the relief here before we sail out of the next port. Even if everything works out as per plan, I can get home earliest in a week’s time..I will get there as soon I can but there is no need to wait for me. You are as much a daughter to him, as me a son. I will talk to mom.”
There was a heavy silence between us. Overcome with grief no words escaped my mouth. With no other choice, I agreed. But my heart weighed down with sadness. I thought to myself, it’s at times like these we have to accept the consequences of the choices we have made. Everything comes at a cost!
Today when I reflect back on the incident, I realise that times have truly changed! Our society has come a long way from wanting the son to accepting daughter or daughter-in-law to perform the last rites.