My Papa, who passed away 17 years ago yesterday, 9th March in 2000.
MY FIRST BEST FRIEND
I spent countless hours with him on evenings, after school, watching documentaries, action movies, sci-fi serials, you name it. He taught me how to predict movie plots, and what’s necessary to tell a story, which I use even till this day. He taught me how they did visual effects in movies although he was just a salesman.
I remember one night in our kitchen, him using a matchbox to represent a building in an earthquake movie, and showed me how they zoomed the camera in close enough to make it look large. He was excited to show me this.
HE WAS A HUGE STAR WARS FAN
Despite ALL of his siblings having little to no interest in it, he loved the trilogy and couldn’t get enough of it. So it’s no mystery why I turned out so.
Our very first VHS movie to own, was Empire Strikes Back. Probably our only, since we couldn’t afford much in those days.
He introduced my brother and I to Jim Henson’s Muppets, James Bond, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Willow, you name it. Took us to cinema religiously to see the latest films. He loved the Scooby Doo cartoons, was a fan of the Twilight Zone. Star Trek was a must on Thursday nights, I think, and LOVED his National Geographic documentaries on Sundays.
I clearly remember him every night…. EVERY NIGHT, at around 7pm on his bed, at the corner, with his face buried in a book of some sort. Be it Health, Science, Readers Digest or a novel now and again. Plus he loved the Calvin & Hobbes comics.
During his last days, when he was blind in one eye, and barely saw through the other, he would use a magnifying glass to read his beloved health books. HE LOVED TO READ.
HE WAS MY 1ST BIGGEST FAN
I remember one night, I was inking some really gothic, gruesome art. Blood and gore, etc.
He leaned over the couch to see what I was doing and looked at me. I became really scared as to what he might think of me.
“You drew that?!!!” he said in shock, to which I replied “yes” in a scared manner.
“WOW!!!!!! That’s amazing!!!!!!!!” he was gleeful beyond belief! He picked it up and was utterly impressed by my work. He loved it!
Any other parent would have probably smacked their child and sent them to a psychologist, but here my father was jumping for joy at my talent. The content didn’t matter, he saw beyond it and what it really was. Art.
I learnt a lot from him at a very young age. What to look for in a woman, how to treat a woman.
I remember his favorite song came on the radio one evening, “Kuch Na Kaho” from 1942 A Love Story.
He grabbed my mother and began to dance with her. Told me this is how you show a lady you love her, and danced with her. He tried to kiss her in front of me, but she being the conservative lady she is, shied away.
HE PUT FAMILY FIRST
My mother, brother and I meant the world to him. I’ve never seen anyone so dedicated to family as much he was. He never left us alone or went to lime without us. He would take me to play All-Fours by my grandmother’s place every Friday, and I was his partner every time.
Carried us on long trips around the country to discover Trinidad, far and wide. Spent countless Sundays at the beach. Loved Nature, and loved fruits.
Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 1997. Doctors gave him 6 months to live. He managed to live 3 more years. His will power was stronger than anyone I ever knew. And he only gave up, when he chose to.
I was literally the last person to speak to him. He was bedridden for 3 months, and reduced to bones. I remember being at his bedside, and he was asking me, unable to speak properly, in the dark, with his eyes closed, if he could “go”. I was in tears at that time, because I knew what he was speaking of. I told him yes, he can.
He never spoke again.
Although he died on the 9th, I believed he passed on the 7th. Since he stopped speaking for 2 days, and his body was hooked up to meds. He was a dreamer, much like myself. And he believed in honesty. Never took shit from anyone and was a fighter till his very last moments. Those who were close to him were his world and nothing else mattered. Was he perfect? Of course not, but the memory of him, is perfect to me.
HIS LEGACY LIVES ON
Every time I watch a great movie, I would ask myself, what would he think of this movie. Every time I watch Star Wars I remember him. Every time I pursue my dream in filmmaking and the arts, I remember his smile and excitement. My profession was inspired by him solely, since I had all the groundwork knowledge of filmmaking and enthusiasm thanks to him. His drive to never quit is in me, and with that, I know I can never fail.
His name was Dayanand Rameshwar Singh, and he was my Papa (father).