Note:I was checking my Hard disk storage device for some old files and chanced upon this story, which I wrote on 20th Feb 2009, the day my daughter was born.I felt a sense of wistful nostalgia. I remember the day, when my Father-in-law called in the morning to break the news and i was absolutely baffled. I was having breakfast, immediately lost all the appetite for the day. It was a sense of utter bewilderment. I was like a caged lion, confused whether to sit, stand, lie down, eat, and be awake or to sleep. I wrote this story on that day to ease my tension a bit.
Travelling back home after 5 months , he was too excited to sleep through the night. He disliked the plane journey, the long still night, waiting for the dawn and suddenly night felt like one long stretch of timeline, almost infinite in its duration.
A pretty airhostess served the diner and the lights were dimmed. Everyone around him looked deep in sleep, but Arun’s mind slipped into deep thoughts, and he slithered through various timelines of his life. Very strong emotions clutched his muscles and he felt extraordinarily stiff, developing into a strong headache and he tried hard to focus. Slowly he breathed, methodically to control his mind and emotions, but ineffective and bringing no end to the profound thoughts.
Years ago his mother abandoned him, killed herself without any clue as to why. Later on, after almost a decade, he knew about her depression. His father did nothing to stop her, his hatred for him started with that. Then started a string of deeds which incessantly increased his revulsion for him. His second marriage, sending his only son to a hostel; the strict disciplined life for the most sloppy of all boys. Arun remembered how he hated to come home for vacations; his father would pull him out of the bed and bark, ‘I tell you, I have not seen a lazier boy in my life. Get up and go get milk from the booth’. Scared of being spanked he would run towards the bathroom, brush his teeth and hurry to get the milk, all mutely, shivering in the morning chill.
He loved Shalini, his wife of 3 years and love of 5; more so since he thought he had no other vent to release his love. Who else could he call his; he didn’t have an answer and now he was going to be a father. He would love his son/daughter like the way he loved his wife and not how his father loved him .He made a stern resolve.
When he watched TV, father would come running and switch it off, saying, “ Nothing else to do? Go study, You Idiot”. He would go to his room with a heavy heart and wish for his mother. That was when he hated even his mother.
Shalini came as a fresh waft; life, for no reason appeared so good earlier. He had difficulty behaving with her love, almost alien it felt. Her parents behaved like they were his own. Her mother would take pain in making his favourite food; he didn’t know what his favourite was until Shalini came.
She would ask him, “ Arun, you should share whatever hurt you have, I would make it go away from your life.Ok?” he would nod.
She would say, “ I cant believe what you say about your father. He loves me like his own daughter. I can see it in his eyes. That glimmer of love.”
His distance with his father grew and it reached a face when he hardly spoke to him. His step mother was gravely ill few years ago, and he just called 2 or 3 times during the 2 months she was in the hospital. Her death didn’t have any jolt on him, He felt strangely unemotional hearing it.
Soon, it was dawn and the plane landed. His father was at the airport to receive him and also was His Father-in-law. He wondered if he should go to his father or Father-In-Law. He opted his father-in-law and sent his father back, promising him to visit in few days. Shalini was at her house and he wished to be with her soon. The doctors had presumed the child delivery by 27th, , which was just 3 days further on.
On 26th night, the pain starts; a curious warmth in the beginning, spreading to her abdomen and then the tightening sensation. She calls her husband and is rushed to the hospital. After several hours of labour; then the shrill cry of the baby, the instantaneous spread of thunderous joy.
Arun First lays his soaked eyes on the baby almost minutes after she was born. He felt a sudden rush of blood to his face; he blushes and his face turns pink when he holds the little Ananya in his hands. He kisses her on her forehead; so delicate her skin felt. So tiny she appeared. So angelic her facial expression was.
The baby is passed on to his father-in- law and then to his father. He watches the vindictive man turning into a saint, or his vindictive demeanour giving way to a pious suppleness.
His hatred for his father coming back to him instantly. He stares deep into his eyes; the frightful eyes of terror , now a pale reflection of the yesteryears. Ananya passes hands of his mother- in- law and then back to the waiting nurse.
The short vacation is further cut short by Little Ananya; the time spent watching her move, blink her little eyes, Shalini breast feeding her. He wished he had more time and wondered how the next three months would pass. Shalini could travel with little Ananya only after 3 months, and those 3 months would be the longest in his life.
The heavy heartedness starts 2 days before the date of journey. He felt he would never get enough of watching Ananya. Shalini understanding her husbands anguish, comes and sits next to him. She runs her hand over his hair and stare into his eyes. And she says, “what da, you and Ananya, i wonder who is the baby”.
The moment of departure was the toughest Arun ever experienced. Departing Ananya and Shalini was absolute heart break, he cries, not giving-a -damn to the watching crowd.
Sitting in his seat and after the diner was served by yet another pretty airhostess, he closes his eyes in an attempt to sleep. Several images of the past month unfolds before his eyes and the kaleidoscopic images stops, at once, at his father.
“The old man of sixty five, a speck of his old self, the dreadful bloodshot eyes and then the way he appeared with Ananya in his hands. His vindictive demeanour giving way to a pious suppleness, A saintly tenderness; was that a figment of his Imagination?”
He wondered if he would ever know. He wondered what Ananya would perceive about her Father.
He decides to call his father as soon as he lands.
P.S:I wish Myself a great fatherhood.