SPOUSE & I WITH DAD - A SURGICAL OPERATION It was year 2011. Spouse Raji & myself used to be busy on Sunday mornings with a surgical operation. With announcement of our well-wisher Mari going on pilgrimage for a month, we had taken over his precision task on ourselves. One such Sunday, commenced at dawn with listening to melodious enthralling voice of SANGEETHA KALANIDHI MLV Amma’s rendering of THIRUPAVAZHI. Dad finished his ablutions and in readiness to face the ordeals and luxuries of sunny day ahead. When time went past eight, Dad was getting fidgety. His routine is structured. Raji filled lukewarm water upto brim in a tall plastic tub over a stool alongside a moulded chair below a shower in well illuminated bathroom. I gathered the equipment ready for the operation to commence. I tied an large azure blue apron over him behind his nape ; and so I did over me. As Dad was approaching a century and my mom hospitalised for hip-bone fracture, we tentatively planned for modest celebration. Venue with lift facility in the heart of the city for celebration stood finalised. Invitations several times redrafted and were in the look out for a suitable printers. Many of our relatives and his colleagues in small groups were calling on him on holidays, keeping him enthused and regaled by recapitulating bit loudly his glorious past and joyous events with which he was associated. Our home replete of instalment laughters. On holidays, home used to have stream of visitors, seeking blessings of my parents leaving us with pile of banana bunches and Washington & Gala apples. Adjacent to attached bath, Dad sat-still on the tall plastic red moulded arm chair with his forearms resting over it. Infront of tall dressing mirror, with illumination of candela bulb focused on dad, Raji proffering bowel of warm water, I dunked a Turkish napkin in it squeezed and dabbed it over stubbled chin and cheeks of dad. From gently compressing the top nozzle of can, I filled onto my fingers silky snow-white shaving foam and applied it over stationary Dad’s cheeks and chin. As I removed content from a blister pack, quite an irrelevant association - Somerset Maugham’s novel the Razor’s Edge crossed my mind.I retrieved the razor twin-blades from its blister pack. Eyes closed, Dad seemed to be immersed in the joy of being gently dabbed and instant cool of menthol. With rich foamy face, through penetrating eyes dad was watching the proceedings akin to an inquisitive baby. From ear shot, Raji and our domestic help Shanthibai who nonchalantly appeared little later with a soft-broom in her hand began watching, as I glided the razor smoothly, slowly intermittently in short downward arcs over his foamy cheeks and chin. A meticulous operation of removal of a week’s stubble revealing his clean shaven oily skin was just nearing completion. It was, as ill-luck would have it, at this juncture an house-fly darted past his nose and his abrupt move to ward off the fly landing on his nose, caused a jerk of my elbow resulting a sharp nick on his chin. Dad staring through his welled-up eyes softly told “Take due time. No need to be hasty”. While Raji quickly dabbed the tiny-spot with readily kept wet alum stone, Madam Shanthi with her index finger flicked the tear, jerked over her dimpled cheeks. After a hot towel-bath, Raji and I supporting him on either side of dad, ambled to his king-size cot and gently left him to lie down and relax. He gestured “a thumbs up” sign toward his mouth. Raji understood, rushed and returned in a jiffy from kitchen with a half-filled gun-metal tumbler stirring its content. The flavour of beverage hit our nostrils. While my right foot on the head side of the cot, Dad’s back supported on my thigh, Raji from other side fed a spoonful coffee carefully into his open mouth. . His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down indicating that he had just swallowed. A vein in neck - greyish green - was visible for an instant.Few more spoonful followed His palm searched beneath his silk-cotton pillow, a packet of Palani scented sacred ash (விபூதி ). With his back arm resting on the bed, he applied the sacred ash on forehead of Raji and I. A few minutes went by. Barber Mari showed up and enquired whether dad is ready for a shave. I said it’s just over . Then he desired to have a look at my Dad. Mari peeped into Dad’s room and went closer to bed; a minute later, came out with welled up eyes with right palm cupping his mouth. Bewildered but after a while, we all realised Dad’s spirit had departed heavenward leaving us to mourn His irreparable loss and suffer void. “Take due time. No need to be hasty” - I remembered and mumbled again and again his last soft words . A man of few words!