It was early in the morning, between 9 and 10am on 29 November, 2000, when I had a phone call which shattered me. I still feel to this day that being so far away I missed something. I was in my final year of a bachelor degree in civil engineering and was living in a university hostel in Amravati, a city that was 150 miles away from my home in Nagpur, in the state of Maharashtra, in central India.
As I stood there trying to absorb the caller’s words a series of memories flooded in. I remembered how my father would wake me at 6am and take me jogging with him and how my mother would promise me a sweet dish — kher made with rice and milk, sugar and walnuts and cashews — on my return. I remembered how my demands for a badminton set, a chessboard and a football were fulfilled even though we were struggling financially. I remember those days when we all, my brother, my sister and my mother, would go out for ice-cream when my father returned home from work.
I don’t know when everything changed, when the nasty fighting between my parents began, blaming each other for things I couldn’t understand. Soon my father began arriving home late at night drunk, not even knowing how he got home. The arguing was repeated each day, and the day after, and the day after that and I couldn’t figure out why and when it started. I just knew I wanted to travel back in time and bring back the days when we were waiting for my father to come home so we could go for a picnic in the park. I couldn't do that then and I can’t do that even now.
These were the thoughts that tumbled about in my mind as I listened to the caller. I heard a voice asking ‘Is that Nitin? Is that Nitin?’ When finally he heard my answer he told me, ‘Your father has died. Come home.’