“Dunia, dunia,” Papa used to sing and sigh out with a smile. I grew up hearing this: the world, the world. Such is the world. He left it with a smile. I remember telling him in his comatose, it’s okay, Pa, Zeno’s just arrived in Jakarta. There might be a delay with his continuing flight, but he’ll be here anytime soon.
It was right then that his heartbeat rate started to descend, his whole being started to wither, the life-support system that has been holding him for three full days made no difference anymore. Zeno was coming, he could let go now. The impact of the accident was too much for him, even for his stoic super-strength. If he was younger, I once thought, but no, he wasn’t younger. I wouldn’t have wished for him to survive, knowing how much he would have been suffering if he did. Wishing such would have been too selfish of me. I remember what he told me a few months earlier: my legs, Tin, are not listening to me anymore. For someone so much in control like him, I felt sad.
No one could have predicted the accident. I’ve just arrived back in Melbourne after giving a speech of my life, one that he saluted me for from continents away, getting ready for a meeting when Edo’s SMS came in. The rest was a blur of constant hesitating movements, a fluke push from Andrew, who guided me and saw me off to the airport, a fluke encounter with Kristi in the airport, being accompanied all the way in the flight to Denpasar, her sitting next to me. Endless nights of waiting in the ICU, so many thoughts, so many emotions. Edo hugging me. Your hands are always so warm, Tin, like Papa’s, my mother told me at one point while we were walking in the hospital’s corridor hand in hand. All a blur.
So I told him, it’s okay Pa, you can go. It’s okay. I’m okay, I will be okay. Everything will be okay.
Once he was gone, the only thing I could feel was gratefulness. I whispered it endlessly. Thank you, Pa. Thank you, Pa. I can’t even remember whether I was crying. I felt so lucky to have known this guy, to have been his daughter when he was alive. He loved me, and I know I will never feel that love from anyone else.
You’re strange, Orlow told me later. Your father’s just passed away, and you feel grateful. But that was honestly what I felt. I couldn’t have a different father, I couldn’t have a different life, I couldn’t have a different parting with him. I wouldn’t, either. I was grateful for all that he has done for me – in my presence and in my absence. A few minutes later, in my absence, in my mother’s presence looking at him lovingly, Papa’s mouth formed a smile.