Greetings! So this is a small account of probably the only activity I've experienced myself, if it is one at all. I'm still unsure what to make of it which is why I didn't post this as my first story, but maybe you all can tell me. I know many of you may not believe me but this is exactly what happened. And it's possible it might just be nothing at all.
First, a little bit of the background. My father is a chartered accountant and works with a bank in India. His is a transferable job. In India, just so you know, we live with our parents. I'm 24 and I will live with them until I get married. And boys live with parents until the end. It's a joint family system, unless otherwise specified lol! If the circumstances force you to stay apart, it's another thing.
So anyway, back when dad was posted in North India (at a beautiful place called Chandigarh), we lived in a colony which had about 20 flats, each occupied by a person working in dad's bank, along with his/her family (the bank provides company accommodation). One of them was occupied by Kumar uncle and his sons. The younger son Raj (name changed) must have been around 18 then. I was much younger and extremely vulnerable, innocent and easy to manipulate (and pretty much still am - it's something I'm not too proud of, trust me)! I had my own set of friends and barely ever hung out with Raj. Besides the age gap and obvious lack of common topics, he always liked remaining secluded. My best friend Moli never liked him right from day one! You know how you just look at someone and decide you don't like them... She does that a lot! Though t almost never happens with me. I think every single person on this planet is nice and sweet. But, well, I've learned to go by the instincts of my best friends.
Anyway so getting on, this Raj never hung out with us in the beginning. As I started growing up, he started talking to me more and more. It had gone from merely nodding a hi at each other to actually chit chatting. We attended a common wedding where I wanted to hang out with my friends but he would just not leave my side. Moli started disliking him even more once she started realising that he was showering too much attention on me. It wasn't that since we were growing up he now had common topics to talk about. It was just me... Moli was older than me, as were many other friends (another reason why I was always so protected) but he didn't seem interested in them, even though they had never done anything to rub him off in the wrong way. So mMli came to the conclusion he had a crush on me... Lol... Which was funny to me back then as I was a kid! Later my older brother started telling me how Raj kept asking about me after they would finish playing cricket on the playground.
Anyway I was never interested and maintained my distance. Within a year or so of this, dad got transferred to Mumbai (somewhat southwest India). It's been years since I've lived here now. I had totally forgotten about Raj and most of my Chandigarh friends. I was only in occasional touch with Moli. Kumar uncle had been transferred to Delhi (capital of India, again North India). Since most of my relatives stay in Delhi, I visit there often. We never once considered visiting the Kumars because, like I said, we were never friends.
One such time, I ran into Raj at the mall where I was shopping with my cousin. I must have been around 17. He stood there looking at me while I was trying to make small talk. I was asking about how his parents were doing but he was just blushing and looking at me and smiling like a retard! I told him my other cousin was calling (though it was just the two of us) and went from there. My cousin told me, as soon as we were out of earshot distance, that this guy is totally floored by me... I just made an awkward embarrassed face and got on with my work. Later Raj had sent me messages on Facebook which I did reply to, but we never really got to talking as much since I was always too busy to chat more than what was being asked of me. I would reply to his queries but barely ever initiate a conversation myself, so it eventually just died down, if you get what I mean...
Fast forward to 2 years later. I have totally blocked Raj out of my memory and am getting on with my med-school life. My dad needs to go to Delhi often for business trips and while he was on one such trip he got the news that Raj had died the previous night. Since his parents stayed in Delhi itself and dad's office was nearby, he went for the funeral which was to be held that day.
Let me tell you a little about my father... He is an absolute sweetheart. He is emotional and caring and is my teddy bear! I am a total daddy's girl and he absolutely dotes on me. And let me also tell you a little about arranged marriages in India, in case you don't know. Basically if you have reached around mid 20s, and haven't found yourself a partner, your parents will start looking for potential candidates for you in the community, caste and religion. Once they find someone who they think will be compatible with you socially and financially, they arrange for a meeting. This "meeting" is basically both the families along with to-be bride and groom who meet and make small talk. If all goes well, the boy and girl can take 1-2 more meetings to get to know each other, and after that they get married. If it doesn't, you keep looking and having other such "meetings" until you get lucky.
So, apparently (and we got to know this months later when dad revisited Delhi and Kumar uncle happened to meet him in the office), Raj's older brother had gotten married 3 years back and his parents had now started the hunt for Raj. In fact, the first such "meeting" had been scheduled for the day after he expired. The girl and her family stayed in another city in Madhya Pradesh (Central India) and they had already boarded the train that night, headed for Delhi. They would have reached Delhi around noon and met with Raj and his family over lunch.
Now, even though we weren't particularly close to the Kumars, dad thought he'll just drop by and give his regards to the family. He dropped in on his way from office to the airport for 10-15 minutes and then left. He had asked his parents how Raj had died and they said they didn't know, he just passed away in his sleep. Apparently Raj was fine the earlier night and found dead the next morning. Just that. He slept alone in his room so nobody realised when and what happened. Obviously my dad said to get an autopsy done so the cause of death would be clear but his parents said autopsy would mean having their son's body cut up and each organ taken out to be examined. They wanted his body to be burned intact. (Hindus burn their dead.) They wanted to respect his body. Weird, I know but a lot of people in India have that conception. So they assumed (and told everyone) that it was a natural death and passed it off. Anyway dad left after 10-15 minutes and took the 2-hour long flight home.
He reached home. I remember it was a Friday evening. I was home by then and as soon as I heard the bell I ran to open it. Now this is what I do daily when dad is back from work. I scream "papaaaaa" (daddy) and give him a tight hug. That day was no different except he reciprocated it in a rather awkward manner. I can't explain but it was not the warm fatherly hug. He then held me by both his arms at my shoulders and looked at me like he hadn't seen me in a long time (he had only been gone one day)... I assumed it was because he had just seen Kumar uncle lose his child and was so glad his was alive, so was just looking at me gladly.
But... His eyes... They were red. Like very red. Flary red. More red than the worst of conjunctivitis eyes you may have seen. His eyes do get a little reddish when he gets his migraine attack but that's very mild. This was strange. And he was looking at me with those eyes while holding my shoulders. Mind you I wasn't scared in the least- it was my daddy! He can't scare me for the world! But it was just different. It FELT DIFFERENT. He looked the same (except the eyes), smelled the same, just felt different.
And then for a brief moment he just squeezed my arm, in not-that-nice a way. It was weird. Just sort of pressed and released and let out a sigh and then went into the hall. (We were still in the hallway after I had opened the door). I didn't speak much to him that evening (very rare for me). I was still getting a strange feeling about that squeeze and his arms resting on my shoulders. Again, I wasn't scared. I was just confused why that squeeze and hug was bothering me. I was trying to shake it off but it just would not go.
The bell rang again and I opened the door again. This time it was our driver. He was bringing dad's briefcase as daddy forgot it in the car. Now that's strange! My dad never forgets it! He's very meticulous about his stuff... I realised I was maybe thinking too much and let it be. He was probably just disturbed by the funeral or tired and preoccupied after the Delhi board meeting.
Driver uncle (I call him uncle- since he's become like a family member) handed me the bag and turned to leave. While waiting for the elevator he asked me what's wrong with dad. Apparently he didn't smoke in the car (my dad is a chronic smoker and as soon as he steps out of the no-smoking zone of the airport and 2 hours of the plane, and steps into the car, he needs to light up a cigarette- so he's invariably always smoking in the car after and before he has a flight) and he didn't chat with uncle either. (like I said daddy is a very pleasant man- unless reading something office related in the car, which he has stopped now due to the migraine, he always chats with uncle about his kids in the village and their education- in fact dad is funding the entire education from primary school to senior college-of uncle's younger daughter as uncle, being a driver, can't afford much). So dad didn't smoke or talk, again something I brushed off as being affected by that funeral. But what shocked uncle the most was that dad snapped at him. He hadn't told him whether or not to come the next day. Since this was a Friday, the next day could either be a half day or a no working day for daddy. So the driver needed to know whether he was required. When they reached the building and dad had still not said a word about it or otherwise, uncle asked him the same. Dad snapped and said, "I don't know. Don't irritate." And walked off without shutting the door or taking his bag.
That was it- I knew something was amiss. My dad NEVER snaps at ANYONE. Even if you do the worst thing imaginable, you CANNOT irritate my dad. He's the calmest and most balanced libran I've EVER known.
I went to the hall to see daddy again. There he was with his eyes still red (at first I figured it was due to the pressured airplane, but frankly he travels a lot and never had this before and secondly it had been more than an hour since he landed).
He had still not smoked either. If he was really that upset about Raj dying then should he not be smoking more? That's what he usually does when sad. Besides I know he can't be so shattered at Raj's death. He barely even knew him. And his dad was a mere colleague.
I stood there watching daddy not smiling up at me cutely like he does but instead just staring... I noticed he wasn't sitting at the place on the sofa where he always sits. The front end of the sofa is RESERVED for him! My dad sits there. Period. If one of us is sitting there and he comes, we MOVE! It's just how it is! Today he was sitting at the rear end.
I went back to my room. My granny was sitting there and as soon as I entered she asked me the same question- what is wrong with your dad. Apparently he didn't greet her once he got home. Just frowned and sat on the sofa at the rear end. She gave him tea and he started sipping immediately (again not something dad does. He usually keeps it for a good 15 minutes until it's cold and then drinks it. My mom often jokes that I don't know why we even make him a hot cup of tea- he needs ice tea anyway!). Of course granny had noticed the eyes too which is what freaked her out the most. Also, she said he was looking around the hall like he's coming there for the first time. She even imitated it for me. You know when you're a guest at someone's place and you just sit and look around the host's house taking the decor in.
Now, being my grandma and how experienced she is, she immediately said that since he's coming from a funeral, you can't rule out the worst possibility. She went to dad and told him to go take a bath (this is an old Indian custom that almost everyone in India still follows. If you've been around the dead, you wash your feet before entering the house and immediately enter the bathroom and take a shower. Just in case something has attached itself to you, it apparently gets washed off. Along with that, any person who hadn't gone for the funeral chants prayers sitting outside the bathroom.) Daddy, however, brushed it off with a simple no... This wasn't surprising as dad and mom are both not superstitious at all. They never follow all this. My mom might still do it to make her mom in law, my granny, happy! But dad just doesn't believe in stuff like this (lucky for me- imagine having to come home and do this entire process every single day. In first year we have anatomy dissection on dead bodies DAILY! Lol!)
So anyway I saw my dad being "not so dad-like" for those few hours. And being the super emotional girl I am, it made me cry. It's silly to think I would cry at this- but that's how I am- I get moved to tears very easily. I was sitting in my room crying when dad came in to see me. Granny was sitting there too. I got up as soon as he came and wiped my tears. He came near me, wiped one of my tears and became visibly sad. Then he patted my head. I have long hair so he sort of patted it from the top and brought his hand all the way down along its length. He rested his hand at the small of my back for a few moments and then left. Not like this whole thing was something a dad wouldn't do to his daughter. It was just something my daddy had never done to me. It wasn't like it felt scary. Just amiss. Once again it took me a while to shake off that awkward feeling of his hand on my back...
Granny followed dad into the hall and told him again to go for a bath. This time he did! Granny chanted her prayers and dad took his shower. Dad came out of his shower with eyes still red but definitely lighter- almost pink. You may think I'm making this up but both granny and I felt the redness was much lesser than before. He wore his clothes, smiled at me in the way I adore, then went straight to the balcony and smoked (the only time I was happy to see him smoke). Then he came back and sat on the front side of the sofa, opened his briefcase, took out the newspaper and began reading it. Asked me to make him a cup of his favourite tea which I noticed he drank after it had become cold! I was relieved to say the least. My mom came back from work later that night and dad had already slept by then because he "felt weak", so she still has no clue what happened. Neither do I actually... Just trying to make something out of it. Maybe you all can help.
The next day (Saturday) was some small occasion. I don't exactly remember what but the priest had to be called home and be given food and clothing to be donated. (We Indians have thousands of these small occasions). I was at college but granny tells me the priest (also a self claimed psychic) took one step inside the house and said something had been there... Said it didn't have any bad intentions and has left now and will not return but it had come for sure. Granny asked if any cleansing needs to be done and he told her a small procedure including putting vibhuti around the house (holy powder we use in Hindu prayers) and chanting prayers. She did so. Also he said out of the 6 of us who stay in that house (this priest is our family priest- he has been coming to our place since the time we shifted to Mumbai, so he knows us all well) mom, dad, granny, my uncle from "it probably lead him to his death" and my brother and me, two are extremely vulnerable- my dad and me. My uncle also, he rightly pointed out (though we had never told him so) used to be vulnerable but is protected now (remember he wears the charms the village priest gave him, even now). He gave a red holy thread to granny to tie around dad and my wrist to protect us. My dad, being himself, said he won't tie any such thing. And I did tie it for a day or two, just to make granny happy, but after the thread leaked colour and spoilt my white top by putting a red stain on it, I took it out too:-p
It's been quite some years after that incident but dad has never "felt different" again! Touch wood! Take care:)
But I am glad he was OK soon after his return. I know daughter's are close to their daddies and thus can feel your sentiments about your dad (through that time).