Remembering my Pa, Three Years On

Mr. RK in his youth, Calcutta
Mr. RK in his youth, Calcutta

Today marks three years since my pa, RK Malhotra, or Mr. RK as most knew him, left us. Reflecting on his life, I can’t help but smile at the quirks that made him, well, him.

Pa had this saint-like love for socializing but the strangest relationship with things like massages and yoga. “I don’t really enjoy the social aspect of massage,” he once told me.

Seriously, Pa? How is a massage even social?

Back in the 70s and 80s, Pa was all about yoga.  In fact, I mentioned this in my story, ‘Understanding Mr. RK.’ But imagining him in a group yoga session? Unthinkable. He loved the solitude of his self-practice on our apartment verandah. And you know what? This love for yoga and disdain for its communal aspects spoke volumes about his need for control and personal space.

During my yin yoga class today, the teacher said something that struck me: “We must learn to be at peace with loss. We call it change, but actually, it’s loss we must come to terms with.”

Her words hit me hard because they were delivered close to the hour of Pa’s passing three years ago, leading me to ponder the differences between loss and change.

Change, you see, implies some level of control. We can shape it, transform it. But loss? That’s about letting go completely. This distinction resonated deeply as I thought about Pa.

He was happy as long as he was in control. His solo yoga sessions and reluctance to let a massage therapist take the lead were absolute proof. Despite being outwardly social, he could also be quite the introvert. Sure, he loved parties …but only if he was the party. As long as he could steer the conversation with his stories, in which he was the main character.

Unlike me, more comfortable on the sidelines, observing the story, sometimes chiming in with a different character perspective.

But when Pa was tired, stressed, in a down mode or simply not bothered to extrovert, a party was the last place he wanted to be.

Today, on Independence Day, it strikes me that I’m still learning to make peace with his loss. Change can be navigated, but loss requires acceptance.

In remembering Pa, I realize the importance of both holding on and letting go and finding that delicate balance between the two.

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