Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Got My "Mindset" On New

Dealing with my son's colic for over 8 months almost broke me, until I changed my mindset.

The lump in my throat grew as I searched the list for a 3rd time, but my name was nowhere to be found. My friend, Ryan, could see the heartbreak on my face. “Oh, that sucks, Sheevani, sorry.” We walked to the cafeteria together; me in a daze and Ryan in an uncomfortable panic, no doubt searching for a way to escape our lunch. We didn’t even go ten feet when my ugly cry pushed forth with immense vigor. I wasn’t going to be in Hello, Dolly!, the Kimball High School Spring Musical of 1993, and I was devastated. 

Later that day, I had an after-school meeting for the student environmental club. I walked into the library with my Rudolph-red nose and swollen eyes from crying on and off all afternoon. A fellow club member, Mona, looked over at me. “Oh my god, Sheevani, what’s wrong?” I choked up and barely got the words out. “Ohhhhh noooo!” Mona said as she stood to give me a huge hug, “We’ve all been there, trust me!! Ohhh, you poor thing.” She hugged me even tighter. “Just volunteer for stage crew! That way you’ll be a part of the show, just behind the scenes! It’s SO fun!” Later that night, lying on my twin bed lamenting about my thespian misfortune, I thought about what Mona said and had one of those moments where you just know the next step. As soon as I could, I signed up for stage crew and ended up having a blast making props, sets and helping with costumes. The whole experience exposed me to another side of theater that I knew very little about and gave me an appreciation for all the work that goes into a show. If it weren’t for Mona, I would have just stewed in my bitterness until it overtook any hope for me to flip the situation. Mona changed my mindset.


My version of wearing embroidered holiday sweaters from Kohl's is looking up inspirational quotes on Pinterest. Look, I’m not proud nor am I promoting this behavior, but dammit if they don’t help. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more reflective about my life. Those journeys into the depths of my past and doubts about my future can be incredibly scary, so if reading words in those little Pinterest boxes lifts me out of a funk, I’m gonna lean into that shit. 

At last count, about 100% of my friends have been annoyed by my workout posts. Yes, I’m that asshole who snaps a pic on my yoga mat, stationary bike or with barbell equipment to post on social media. Hey, as a former couch potato, I’m very proud of the fact that the gym employees recognize me! An unexpected discovery from being so active is the ability to change my mindset. I NEVER used to be that, “If I put my mind to it, I can do it,” type person. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I finally chose to surround myself with friends from the gym who inspired me to keep going, I saw the potential I held within myself, not only for fitness, but in many areas of my life.  

There have been a few major shifts in mindset that have stuck with me, from my high school musical heartbreak to a major transition last year. I look back on these points in my life to remind myself that I can’t outsource my own personal fulfillment. If I do, it’s a one-way ticket to disappointment and resentment. Holy shit, I’m posting that one on Pinterest! Gotta find that perfect swirly font…

This Baby Hates Everything
“Emerson fussy, Mama?” my little Faye said with her big, curious eyes. She was a little over 2.5 years old and was used to seeing me bounce her little brother all the live long day. “It’s okay, I go play by myself.” What was that, heart? Oh, you’ve just exploded with guilt… sounds about right. My little bundle of rage was 9 weeks old, our house was still full of unpacked boxes and my tolerance for it all was at an all-time low. Since about week 2, I could not figure this kid out. I adjusted my diet in every way in case it was my breast milk, I swaddled, I let him cry, I wore him, I tried a swing, I did the four S’s until the point of passing out; nothing worked. My son was just pissed. 

So many of my friends who dealt with their own colicky babies said that at 12 weeks everything changed. The crying stopped, and life was beautiful again. My mental alarm was set to July 12th to awaken from the colic nightmare. Nope, didn’t happen. “For my baby, it was close to 14 weeks,” one friend told me. Oh, just a couple more weeks and I’ll be smooth sailing into the land of fuss-free bliss! Nope. “Sometimes it can be 4 months of colic,” I read in a friend’s message. Given the stamina of my son’s hatred for the world, I knew better than to put any more end-dates on his ire.  I was at the point where my body could no longer take the constant baby-wearing, my heart couldn’t take hearing him cry and fuss all day and my brain couldn’t stop telling me I was a horrible mother.

Finally, my dear friend, Jenna, recommended a Facebook page called, “Wait it Out.” It was created for a community of women who were dealing with colicky babies. THIS PAGE SAVED ME. It was full of posts by women who were going through the same situation and many times, a lot worse than what I was experiencing. Just spending a few minutes on this page completely flipped my mindset. I was no longer alone, and I knew it was going to get better. 

After finding that page, I approached every day so differently. I expected the fussiness so that when it did happen, I didn’t crumble into a ball of frustration. The most profound change was that my new mindset emitted an energy that had a calming effect on my son. For so many weeks, he was feeding off my negative emotions. While there was still a good amount of fussiness until month 8, it became less and less, and I knew how to handle it through a new set of eyes. Today, that little guy more than makes up for that hellish beginning. I’m spoiled with so much love from him every day.

Rocky Mountain Cry
“I think we need to talk about Denver,” my husband said. My stomach flipped, and my heart started beating in my ears because I knew what was coming. “Oh yeah?” I tried to say in a breezy tone. Paul proceeded to tell me how this latest consulting project that had taken him to Denver for the last few months had convinced him that we should move there. It had been awhile since I had heard my husband speak about something with such thirst and emotion. I never imagined staying in Michigan for the rest of my life, in fact, I was eager to start an adventure somewhere else since childhood. But Colorado? That had never occurred to me.

In an effort to make this post shorter than War and Peace, I’ll save my thoughts on my tendency to over-compromise due to an imbalance of power in my marriage for another post (JUICY TEASER ALERT!), but suffice it to say, even though I had my reservations about such a big move, I knew almost immediately that I’d give in to my husband’s wish. After all, he had supported me through my career woes, improv ventures, post-partum hell (twice), insecurities about my worth, etc. And to be blunt, he’s making the cash in this family. 

After we made the decision and put the deposit down on our new home, the emotional rollercoaster I rode rivaled anything Cedar Point (or insert your favorite amusement park here) has to offer. There were days where the resentment of this huge undertaking bubbled over and well, keeping my emotions in check has never been my forte. Conversely, sometimes I would get excited about the adventure of it all; new places to explore, learning to ski, seeing mountains every day, 300 days of sunshine per year. Then, I’d remember my family I’d be leaving and all the friends I wouldn’t be able to see so regularly. There were so many ups and downs, it was like I was painting the Miyagi fence in my head and heart. 

On August 1st of 2017, we arrived in Colorado. I’d made my peace with leaving Michigan and thought I was on a healthy path to make a smooth transition. I wasn’t quite prepared for the extra-sensitive antennae that sprouted out of my head the first few weeks. Something as minor as long red-lights could set me off. “What the hell is wrong with the traffic lights in Colorado?!” At my first venture to our local supermarket, I kept getting electric shocks while pushing the cart and I angrily blamed it on the dry climate. “Am I going to have to wear gloves all the time here like a mental patient?!!” I could even find fault in the yoga studio at my new Lifetime location. “Oh, the cubbies are on that wall?”

“I want the old you back,” Paul said to me one afternoon with a look of concern. We’d been in Colorado less than a month and he could tell I wasn’t adjusting very well. His request was made with love, but I couldn’t help but feel a little attacked in that moment. “You know what? I want the same, Paul. But this is a huge change for all of us and I need you to be a little patient with me.” I had to be honest; I did need some latitude because, unlike him, I still had the huge task of finding my purpose in this new life. His look of concern only deepened, he nodded and walked away. 

It was that short exchange in our new master bathroom that forced me to wake up and CHANGE MY MINDSET. Over the years of marriage and being a parent, so many of my ugly tendencies have been exposed, like bugs on an over-turned rock. One of those tendencies was my expectation that someone else is supposed to make my life complete and if I feel incomplete, it is his fault. I had put the onus of my happiness completely on Paul’s shoulders, which was a mistake I had made before. I mean, I’m a grown-ass woman who knows what she wants and I’m certainly capable of designing a life that will keep me fulfilled. Perspective helps as well. For instance, my mother moved to a completely foreign country where she barely spoke the language, left everything and everyone she knew in India and all for a man she married 2 weeks after meeting him. Yeah, stop whining about the damn red-lights, idiot.

I will stress that my emotions weren’t wrong or unreasonable; I needed to go through them to arrive at the reality that it was up to me to change how I approached this change. I’m sure Paul would have preferred another route that didn’t go straight through multiple Meltdown Forests, but he knew what he signed up for when he married me! After changing my mindset, I was able to dissolve so many of the bitter emotions that were clogging up my view of a gorgeous future. 


These examples have helped me learn a lot about myself and my own capabilities. However, I’m not sitting around patting myself on the back for being so evolved considering there are still a few stubborn areas where I cannot seem to flip my mind toward a healthier track. To be continued...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Big Nose

Shots at profile angle still give me anxiety, but I'm getting more comfortable with them


I could feel her eyes on me as I sat at the coffee table figuring out the value of ‘x’ on my pre-algebra homework. My Masi (aunt) was visiting from India. It was her usual yearly visit where her presence brought with it a comfort; from the scent of her perfume to her infectious laughter while watching American television. Ever since she had arrived a few days earlier, she kept commenting on how much I’d grown since the previous year. A pretty typical comment every time she came to our house, but this year it was said with a little bit more investigation in her eyes. I was in 7thgrade, struggling to figure out the social constructs of junior high while keeping up with the increasing academic responsibilities. My mother served some nastas (Indian snacks) to have with their chai, and they settled in to enjoy General Hospital. I stared at my homework when I heard my Masi say something to my mom without a hint of discretion.

“Aha! I know what’s so different. Sheevani’s nose got big.”

Up until that moment, I hadn’t really thought about my looks in general, much less my nose. I mean, at 12 years old, there were some unsettling changes that were happening, and my tween brain was working overtime to figure it all out. Many of the things I’d half-forgotten from 5thgrade sex ed came screaming back when I looked at my body; from embarrassing breast buds to sparse pubes. The journey from 6thgrade (which was still elementary school for me) to 7thpresented this mystifying world, where the same friends with whom I was playing 4-square just a few months earlier, were now wearing training bras and French kissing boys. 

My Masi wasn’t trying to be cruel. Call it cultural or just a trait of my family, but bluntness was a part of being around my relatives. My mother once told me the story of a visit to India after having my brother. Her usual petite frame wasn’t quite the same between the baby weight and months of eating American food, and her family didn’t hesitate to tell her she’d really packed on the pounds. I recoiled as she told that story, but she said, “What’s the big deal? If they don’t tell me, then who will?” So, when my mother’s sister sat on the couch and announced that my nose had “blown up,” (loose translation from Gujurati), I knew she hadn’t turned into some evil demon. She made an innocent observation and I was enlightened to a new physical insecurity. 

Look, I would have figured it out anyway. I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror as a kid. Mostly to make funny faces and master some impressions of people I knew, but also to investigate the changes in my face along the way. After that particular day, I took my mother’s hand mirror into my room, positioned myself in front of my dresser mirror and angled the hand mirror in such a way that I could see my profile. Yup, that was a schnoz, alright. No one really sees their profile very often, but from that moment forward, I’d look at it on a daily basis. I felt the more I looked, the more I’d be okay with it… or something. Honestly, I’m not sure the real reason, but safe to say I became obsessed with my nose.

Weirdo Things I Did with My Nose  
·     Pinched it for minutes at a time in hopes of reducing the width
·     Avoided any pics that showed my profile
·     Destroyed any pics that showed my profile
·     Measured the length and width so I could draw it to scale
o  This was done in hopes that, on paper, it wouldn’t look so big (the results proved to be the opposite)
·     Drew and cut out small nose shapes and held them up to my profile to imagine myself with a smaller nose
·     Selected which celeb nose I’d choose should I ever get a nose job (I believe Courtney Cox won)
·     Covered it completely in my reflection to imagine myself with no nose at all

Obviously, it was all about vanity and feeling attractive. Dudes weren’t exactly swarming me at that time, and while that could have been for a number of reasons, I zeroed in on my prominent beak as the main cause. At my hostess job in high school, one waiter would flirt with me quite a bit. He was in his late 20s and had a Dana Carvey quality that was very endearing. One day, after seeing that I assigned him a pretty busy section where he’d make a lot of tips, he put his arm around me and said, “Sheevani, you’re the best. I’ve always had a thing for girls with big noses.” 

I laugh SO hard when I think of that moment now. I mean, who the hell says that?! Now, you may think I had to run to the restroom to sob, but his off-hand com-sult (compliment + insult) taught me something that I hadn’t thought of before: Everyone finds different things attractive. I had been looking at beauty in such a small scope where perfection was the only option. So, thank you creepy-waiter-who-had-no-business-hitting-on-a-16-year-old, you taught me a valuable lesson. I wasn’t cured, by any means, but that moment sticks in my mind as sort of a turning point about my perception of being attractive. 

My mother was, and still is, the epitome of beauty in my eyes. Whether it was a regular day or fancy occasion, I always thought she was the most beautiful woman in the room. She never acknowledged her beauty, but she certainly took pride in her appearance. As a cosmetologist, my mom was expected to look her best at the salon, so every morning there was a ritual of hair and make-up that took time, precision and expertise. One day in high school, she told me how a co-worker asked if she’d had a nose job. “Why would she think that?” my mother said, “I have such a big nose!” 

This was the first time I’d ever heard my mom say anything about her looks. My instinct was to say, “No you don’t, Mummy! You’re so pretty!” But, since she didn’t say it with a hint of shame, I just absorbed her resolve. That moment taught me so much about accepting yourself with humility. And yeah, my mom has a big nose, it is big and beautiful. I had associated a big nose with being unattractive for so long that when I realized my own mother, who was the standard of beauty for me, donned her nose with pride, I really woke up.

Do I feel ridiculous dedicating an entire blog entry to a physical feature? A little bit. But, unless the world drastically changes overnight, comparing oneself to the societal standard of physical beauty will always exist. One thing I promised myself when my daughter was born was to never put myself down in her presence. She’ll never hear me say, “I wish I was skinnier,” or, “These wrinkles are so ugly,” or “I hate my big nose.” Her insecurities will arrive no matter what I do, but I certainly won’t be the cause of them. She may come to me one day in tears because she hates something about her body, and I’ll listen, honor her feelings and share everything about my past and present insecurities that may help. But I want her to see me own them. I want her to see me take care of myself, not to be “perfect” but instead to show how that care will shine through in ways beyond the physical. 

Today, I own this honker. Sure, I watch a fair amount of make-up tutorials on nose contouring and I tense up at a shoot when the camera is at profile angle, but overall, I’m at a place where I don’t often imagine rhinoplasty as an option. As an improv and sketch comedian, it’s an asset, just ask anyone who has seen into my brain as I flare my nostrils on stage. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was once quoted as saying, “A woman should never worry about being pretty while being funny.” That has stuck with me throughout my life. Between making people swoon at a perfect face or laugh at a funny face, I choose the latter in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Oooh, Baby, Do I Know What I'm Worth?

At my high school graduation with my whole future ahead of me



You can fail at what you don’t want. So, you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
-Jim Carrey

I stared at the computer screen and my heart dropped. The meeting was in 15 minutes and I had forgotten to include the data on the slide that would justify our proposal for ordering 30% more denim for the… good lord, THIS is what I’m doing with my days? Merchandise Planning has been my career for close to a decade, yet absolutely nothing excites me about analyzing data to figure out how many CDs, tents, plaid shirts or jeans are needed. These days, the office was more of a respite from chasing around my young kids, and man, it was really beginning to show. Shouldn’t I be better at this by now? I mean, after all these years I should be more confident in this job that involves sales data, forecast projections, industry trends that affect the assortment plan and optimal inventory lev… Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Hi, I’m Sheevani and I’m a Merchandise Planner. Gross. No, no I’m not. Hi, I’m Sheevani and I played a Merchandise Planner for many years.

Character Description: Indian woman, age 26-36 who loves everything Microsoft Excel and Access. She’s excited about replenishment systems, designing databases and spreadsheets with extra-small print on extra-large paper. On a daily basis, she will use the following terms: sales-lift, merchandising vehicles, product allocation and assortment plans. She never fails to build a solid rapport with her male bosses because she, too, gets a huge boner when inventory levels are juuuuuust right.

I sank my teeth into this role for about 10 years. I really wanted to love it and there were times when I convinced myself that it was enough. Now, I don’t want to offend the droves of Merch Planners who may read this. Look, you’re all doing the work we need. I mean, I know I have you to thank when I go to Target and my Olay Regenerist inventory is plentiful. Conversely, I also know who to blame when I cannot find any Key Lime Oikos Greek Yogurt on the shelf. I mean, clearly someone didn’t adjust the planned sales days factor!! Whew, sorry, I should have warned you this was going to get sexy.

From a very early age, my interests gravitated toward the creative. Also, from an early age, I was frequently reminded by my father that math and science were the most important subjects in school. “Why did you get Bs in math and science, Sheevani?” my father would ask after I handed him my report card. Mind you, the rest of the grades were As (NERD ALERT), but my father would focus on those Bs. Math and science did not come easy to me, and I was proud of those Bs… until my Dad was disappointed in those Bs. It was frustrating at the time, but I know his intention was to make sure I focused on subjects that would lay a foundation to lucrative careers like engineering or medicine. Indian stereotype much, DAD?!?!

Through other channels, I was able to nurture my creative side until college. Ah college, a period of time that holds some of my fondest memories, none of which include academic achievement. True story, I chose my major because of a nickname. Due to my penchant for arguing (mostly with him), my father nicknamed me “defense lawyer.” No matter the topic, I’d always defend the underdog. So yeah, in August of 1996, I sat in a muggy classroom at my Michigan State University orientation, and checked a little box under Major that read, “Political Science - Pre-Law.”  Yup, that’s how immature I was. Looking back, I should have never been allowed to go away to school. Nevertheless, I went and played the part.

Character Description: Indian girl, age 17-22 who thirsts for the writings of Plato, Thomas Paine, John Locke and every other political philosopher out there. In her study groups she is the silent contributor by way of taking notes and assembling presentations. During a heated Political Theory debate, she nods or shakes her head and says, “Absolutely!” or “Oh, come on!” without adding anything of real substance. She laments about the stresses of the LSAT and choosing a law school. Her grades are average, at best, but sometimes spike if the TA is hot. 

As Denise Huxtable will tell you, college is a "Different World" and well, a scary one for me to follow any of my creative pursuits. I did a pitiful amount of research on the theater opportunities when I first arrived at MSU, but my fear took over. Sure, I had a great chance to land a role in the school play at Kimball High School, but at a large university? No way. So instead, I distracted myself with the fun aspects of college; independence, friends, my first love and lots of chicken wings. Like, TOO many chicken wings. I cannot stress this enough… one time a bag of wings was delivered with “WING-O-RAMA” written on it in black marker. 

I didn’t have the courage to change my major to theater or at least something related to writing. I'll never make peace with the fact that I wasted my parent's money on an area of study that I knew I wouldn't pursue. I was too scared to tell them I didn't want to be a lawyer, so I kept up the ruse. I really thought settling for something my parents would be proud to talk about with their friends would deaden the pain of denying my true purpose. 

“Acting is fine as a hobby, Sheevu, but not as a career. Do something sensible.” Daddy would say.

Oh, by the way, my paternal grandfather was once the president of the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association, no big deal. THAT’S RIGHT. My father’s father was in the movie business in Bombay. Daddy never spoke much about that except to say that he was the one son who didn’t take an interest in performing, while his 2 older brothers were more involved. My dad’s oldest brother once said to me, “If you love acting, keep doing it.” I once saw him in a play during a visit to India. The image of him up on stage is still crystal clear in my mind. There was a comfort in realizing that this pull to acting was in my blood. 

From college through my career as a Merchandise Planner (calm down), I felt like a fraud. I looked around and saw my peers and friends making strides with career or advanced degrees; following their purpose. And there I was, sitting in my various cubicles, constantly letting fear win. I did have a few moments along the way where I said, “Okay, I’m just going to do it, I’m going to be an actor,” and almost immediately I could imagine the looks of judgement and hear condescending remarks from people I call my “life-doubters” (more on that in another entry). 

After years of being consumed by cowardice along with my career mediocrity, I plunged into a dark place of shame. I’d rewind my life and take inventory (ironic) of all my failures, from my squandered college years to messing up a dashboard metrics report (whew, is it hot in here?) at work the previous week. I was almost angry that my talents didn’t reside in the practical areas in which I was trying so hard to assimilate. I felt lazy and useless. I felt worthless.

Here’s a piece of advice: If you get compliments about the same things your whole life, BELIEVE THEM. For me, it was, “You are so funny!” or “You’re a great actor,” or “Wow, I love your writing,” or “Damn girl, where’d you learn to salsa dance like that?” Okay, the last one only happened once at a Salsa Club and I’m pretty sure the guy was trying to lure me back to his place, but if I’m being honest, I REALLY want to be a fantastic salsa dancer.

After I had my daughter, I woke up. While the fear didn’t completely go away, I was just DONE with self-pity. My fears had nothing to do with my parents, or from naysayers who told me I’d never succeed. It was all me. I was the biggest naysayer of all. Why the hell was I denying my creative side? Why was I forcing myself into a career that, not only was I not passionate about, but I was pretty shitty at. Trust me, you don’t want me behind a desk entering data to make sure your Dad's Carhartt jeans are in stock. Chances are, I’d mess up and he’d be pants-less. My value in this world is on a stage, screen or writing something to brighten your day. 

Oh wow, I really wrote that with some gumption and confidence, huh? Well… not exactly. Truth is, I still struggle with those doubting voices quite a bit. Saying, “I’m an actor, writer, comedian,” doesn’t roll off the tongue without the urge to qualify it with, “I mean… I’m aspiring… not like I’m in Hollywood or anything… but, I enjoy it.” It’s clunky, but I’m getting there. For me, one of the glorious things about getting older is just not giving a shit about what others think. Am I really going to avoid my dream because Bitter Betty or Doubtful Dottie thinks it’s ridiculous? How stupid. I’d rather hang out with Inspiring Ida or Fearless Fiona. These are all totally real people, by the way. 

Character Description: Indian woman, age 40, who dreams big and doesn’t give a f*ck. Enough said.

I know I was put on this planet to entertain you, and I am no longer ashamed of that. Oh and as it turns out, I’m not lazy, because when I’m working on a sketch show, rehearsing improv, writing this blog, seeking out freelance writing clients or prepping for auditions, I’m like the Energizer Bunny (or something more topical, forgive me). My kids are witnesses to my life, and they will see their mom working toward her dreams every single day… and that’s worth a lot. 

Hi, I’m Sheevani, and I’m an actor, writer and comedian.

On stage at Go Comedy Improv Theater

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Janak Desai

March 12, 2010
I sat and stared at him as he lay in what used to be my brother's bedroom. It was the only room in the house that could fit the hospice-provided bed in which he would eventually die. We always knew his wish was to die at home so when the decision was made to stop treatment, bringing him back to the house he'd lived in since 1979 was the first priority. I had just returned from a friend's wedding in Mexico. Before I left, Daddy was deteriorating and after 3 days when I returned, my brother informed me that our father had stopped eating entirely and had mostly stopped speaking. I was 11 weeks pregnant and incredibly nauseous from the flight. "This can't be it," I thought.

February 2010
"Hi Mummy!!" I said into the phone as I drove away from the OB/GYN office. The news of my first child's due date was on the tip of my tongue. "Daddy's cancer is in his bones! It's everywhere... lungs, bones, everywhere." She was out of breath and her voice panicked. I froze and tried not to drive off the road. She hung up and I pulled over. "Once it's in the bones, that's it," Daddy would say throughout his 6 year fight with prostate cancer. Every body-scan to check on the progress of his treatment, we'd brace for the results. Up until that day, there had always been a huge sigh of relief.

The cancer remained at bay for years. Being a diligent patient with his screenings, it had been caught early and treated with medication after his prostate was removed. For reasons that only the cancer knows, it started to spread rapidly a few years later, and his oncologist said that chemotherapy was the only option. "Well, I'm already bald, so that's fine," Daddy joked upon hearing about his new course of treatment.

March 12, 2010
"Are you in any pain?" the hospice nurse asked as she situated Daddy's morphine drip. He said he wasn't and I smiled. He had suffered for months, and now he was comfortable. Just outside the bedroom, our living room was packed with friends from the Indian community. The kitchen was full of food and fresh chai was brewed.

I leaned forward in the chair next to his bed and stared at him. His eyes were closed and his breath steady. Years of health issues had somewhat prepared me for this, but the thought of never hearing my father's voice again violently squeezed my insides with sorrow. The tears began to surface to the point where I couldn't silence the oncoming sobs. My mother was adamant that we don't cry in Daddy's presence. "The soul won't go in peace," she told us. I stood up to cry in another room when my cousin said, "Sheevu, hold on, turn around."

Daddy's eyes were slightly open and his hand was reaching for me. I sat back down next to him and put my hand next to his. He closed his eyes and started to gently pat the top of my hand over and over again. The same hand that held my hand to cross the street as a child was now comforting me through this final stage of his life. He was saying, "I'm okay, I'm fine," with each pat and I understood completely. It is still one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

March 16, 2010
Over the next 4 days, countless friends and family came to say their goodbyes. At night, we'd all sit in the room with him, tell stories and LAUGH. We'd laugh so hard sometimes I thought we'd wake him out of his final coma. We were telling the same stories we'd told for years, and of course, making fun of the MANY things we'd tease Daddy about as a family. There wasn't anything Daddy loved more than laughing with friends and family. We were also able to say goodbye and let him know how much we loved him. Those final days were the perfect send-off for Janak Desai.

One by one, friends and relatives left our house. My mother convinced my brother, Sheel, to finally leave Daddy's side and sit with us in the living room. With all the activity in the past few days, Mummy thought it best to be together in another room. It couldn't have been more than 20 minutes when Sheel decided to go back to check on Daddy. "Guys, come in here," he called to us. My mother, sister-in-law and I walked in and Daddy was gone. He had taken his final breath when he was completely alone. I've heard countless similar stories where loved-ones wait until they are alone to let go. Just as he had gently patted my hand to comfort me, he held on for days so his friends and family could say their goodbyes. I know he did that for them, and once that was over, his soul was at peace and he left us.

My kids know so much about their Janak Nana. They say, "Tell us more stories about your dad!" At bedtime, there is often a bright star visible from my son's bedroom window. "That's Janak Nana's star, right Mama?" my son asks. I say yes and tell him my Daddy is watching over us. As my children grow up, a daily recurring thought is, "I wish my dad could see this..." He'd be so proud that my son loves mango pulp and fart jokes. My daughter would melt his heart with her snuggles and infectious laughter.

It's been over 8 years, but my hand still feels that gentle pat from time to time. Sometimes it's through a hug from my children or toilet joke I know he would have loved. In any form, this forever Daddy's Girl appreciates the reminders.