Reminiscing My Late Father on his 110th Birthday
My father Bavoo Joseph was born on 26 September 1907, and incidentally, I was born on the same day, 46 years later, as his youngest son. It is wonderful to share the same date of birth with my father and other great luminaries born on that day like Pope Paul VI, Dr. Manmohan Singh, T.S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger and others. I tried to inculcate their great virtues in my life too. However, my father remains the hero of all heroes, who instilled in me hard work, determination and perseverance.
As I remember my father, on his 110th birthday, in a few day’s time, I recall to mind an experience I had, as he lay dying on 24th November 1983. I was travelling very ill, in a train from Guwahati to Dimapur on 23rd November. I was suffering from heavy flu, with both my nostrils blocked, forcing me to breathe through my mouth.
To get some relief I coated my nostrils with vicks vapoRub. But, nothing doing to alleviate my struggle. I spent the whole night, sleepless, in my upper berth. The lower berth was occupied by an Assamese elderly man of my father’s age. He was accompanied by his son, who assisted him all the time with his movements in the compartment.
From all indications, I presumed, they were returning from hospital, as the boy dished out heavy dose of medicines to his father. Observing their predicament, I struck up a conversation with the son, who told me that they were returning to Tinsukia, after his father’s kidney treatment at Guwahati. Immediately, my thoughts went back to my father, suffering from similar health hazards.
I could only pity the elderly man, as he spent his night in anguish and pain. Around 5 am the following morning, I saw the boy struggling to take his father to the toilet. I jumped out of my upper berth, to assist him. He smiled at me and touched me in gratitude, despite his excruciating pain and suffering.
At Dimapur, I wished them off. The following day, I received a telegram, informing me of my father’s sudden demise. It occurred around 5 am in the morning of 24th. That was the time around, I assisted the Assamese elderly man, to ease his pain slightly. I don’t believe in a sixth sense giving ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) or telepathic experiences, but believes in the words of the Lord who said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt. 25:40).
My father was well prepared for his death as he spent most of his time reciting the rosary, when he couldn’t go to Church for the Eucharist. He was never afraid of death, as he used to tell me: “One day, we all have to go to inherit the mansions prepared for us in heaven, recalling the words of Jesus: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (Jn 14:2). May he celebrate his heavenly bliss!!!