Today was the earliest I had ever got up on a Sunday morning. It was quarter to five and I didn’t know why, but I just felt like getting up, preparing a cup of tea and talking to myself in the silent yet beautiful morning. I sat with my cup of tea on my couch and opened the window. The cold wind reminded me of my childhood days when my Mum would to yell at me for being so lazy. I hated the idea of getting up early, going to bed early, brushing my teeth before going to bed, making my own bed after waking up… the list was too long.
My Mum was such a disciplinarian, that even my teachers seemed ‘cool’ to me. She was a perfectionist. Our home was so well done that every time my friends came over, they wouldn’t stop praising my mother. But they didn’t know that, in order to keep everything in proper order I was never allowed to touch anything. I was only allowed to play with my toys on the condition that I would keep everything back in its place. The playing time was limited. I had a proper snack time, juice time and what not, everything but “my time”,time when I could just explore things by myself. In spite of all this, I loved my Mum. I remember Dad was always super cool. He was exactly what Mum was not. I was more similar to my father. He was super funny and would cheer me up whenever I was upset. I loved to spend time with him because he allowed me to be myself. Usually, my father would be home by five and Mum only after six in the evening. So, five to six used to be my best time. Dad and I would play a lot of games and my nanny was told to watch television. I remember the day, my father brought home a barbie doll for me.
I was in the fourth standard. I was so happy that I invited all my friends home to play with the doll in the evening. My friends arrived at five and we played and made the house messy. Dad got late due to some reason that day and to our surprise, Mum came home at quarter to six. Her face turned red looking at the messy house. I was so scared. She calmly asked my friends to leave, then fired the nanny and after that it was my turn. Just as she started scolding me, Dad reached home. He was tolerant of everything that Mum did, except for her tendency to discipline me. He was furious and screamed back at my mother. I had never seen my dad so angry. I quietly went to my room while they had a big fight. I cried till I fell asleep. Next morning, Dad went to work very early while Mum took leave. Slowly, the fights between my parents increased. Dad started losing his temper more often and would yell at Mum and she would yell back. I would just shut my door and start painting, it was my favourite pass time and stressbuster. Mum and Dad stopped speaking to each other. Sometimes, I would be the only way of communication between them. Then, at one point of time my parents came to my room and announced they were were getting divorced.
I was shaken. I didn’t know what to say. Dad left the room, while mom stayed back. She tried to look into my eyes, but I avoided making eye contact. Then, Mum held my hands and said, “We are very sorry Twinkle,but this is it.Your Dad and me are both poles apart. I tried a lot to adjust with him and Iam sure he did the same. But we realized, we just aren’t meant for each other. Instead of these daily fights, it’s a better idea to get divorced. You are going to be ten next month, I guess you are grown up to understand…” Mum left the room without even listening to me, or understanding the pain I was going through.
I knew what divorce meant. I had heard all about it from my friend Dimpi, whose parents were divorced as well.
I wondered if I would be forced to live with my Mum. How would I live without my Dad? I was feeling desperate. Dad became very silent and Mum stopped shouting, too. That was the time when I missed her shouting at me. I always found her in some deep thoughtwith tears rolling down her cheeks at times. On the other hand, Dad was losing all interest in all things that we did together. He no longer played with me and was always lost in his own world. I wondered if this new ‘freedom’ “was making me happy or was I actually happier earlier! God,why can’t parents understand what we want? Then, one day Mum left with me for her parents’ place in Delhi while Dad was left alone in Patna. I cried throughout the flight for my Dad.
Days passed by, Mom found a good job in Delhi and I slowly forgot all my grief in the company of my grandparents. They always had time for me and really pampered me. I didn’t have paternal grandparents, so I always yearned for company of my maternal grandparents. Dad would call me on Sundays. The life seemed to be getting a little bit on track. But soon Mum had to shift to the USA for her job and she was adamant on taking me along. The idea of moving to foreign land fascinated me. I was fourteen then. Dad came to Delhi to meet me at the airport and we had our favourite burger and soft drink.
As I was about to leave, Dad hugged me and bgena to cry. I could see the feeling of helplessness in his eyes. Seeing him cry was painful for me. I assured him that I would keep in touch.
Soon after settling in the US, we got busy with our life. I started enjoying my teenage life-going to restaurants, discos, weekend holidays. I rarely called Dad as I was busy with my friends, my outings, my studies. Slowly, that loving picture of Dad began to fade. I was enjoying my life in the United States. Even when Dad called I didn’t show much interest in talking to him. I always made some excuse because sometimes I didn’t know what to talk to him about. I was so busy with my life that I didn’t want to look at my past. Soon, I graduated college and got busy with my career. I never cared to call Dad and ask about his wellbeing. Dad called a few times but then probably he guessed that his phone calls were not welcomed, so he stopped calling me.
All these memories flooded me this Sunday morning.
I suddenly felt a desire to talk to Dad. I didn’t have his number. I logged onto my Facebook account after many months.There was a friend request from my school friend from Patna, Sneha Sinha.She had also left me a message “need to talk,something urgent”. I accepted her friend request. She was online on chat. I wanted to ask her about my father, my heart was pounding as I messaged her,” Hi Sneha how are you? long time.”
She replied “Hey, I thought you didn’t remember me. I knew you were in New Jersey, Sinha Uncle had told me when I inquired about you. Oh god, thank you for finally accepting my friend request as I have something for you from your Dad.” I paused for a while. My dad didn’t know my phone number. I never cared to inform him where I was, what I was doing. I had lost my mobile two years back and his number was lost with that as well. My heart filled up with regret. I managed to write “Please tell me what my Dad gave you …”
“Twinkle it’s a letter. Your father is not well.” The messages from Sneha were killing me. “Sinha uncle was diagnosed with cancer five months ago and when I met him he was talking only about you. I went to your house, you know your home is filled with your photographs. He is in hospital right now. There’s no one to look after him.”
I felt so helpless. My world was shaken. Tears began to flow down my cheeks. I realized how much dad would have missed me all these years; how selfish a child I was! He was deprived of seeing his little baby grow up.
Sneha sent me the softcopy of Dad’s letter. I was crying so much that it was difficult for me to read the letter but still I gathered courage.
The letter read:
“My dear daughter Twinkle, You were and will always be the twinkle of my eyes. The brightest shining star of my life, the most beautiful blessing of God. You came to my life and completed us (your Mum and me). I just loved to play with you. When you held my finger,I felt like I was your hero. I had to protect you no matter what. I began to save money for our future. I always dreamed that I would fill your life with all the happiness. You were the center of my world, but somehow I couldn’t keep my promise. I am sorry. Life without you was so horrible. Beta, I tried a lot to work on my relationship with your mother, but I felt she was too perfect for me, maybe she deserved someone better than me. I tried a lot to adjust with her, but failed. I knew our separation would affect you the most but even then I went ahead with the divorce.
I sometimes feel how selfish I was not to think about your feelings; but then fights between your mom and me were turning ugly. Sometimes the reality of life is too harsh, sometimes two good people may not get along, sometimes relationships don’t work.
Whenever I saw girls from your school; wearing those beautiful school uniform and their parents coming to receive them, I felt God had sentenced me to life imprisonment. I was alive, yet dead.
My life had no meaning at all. I missed you most on your birthdays. I just sat in front of your pictures and cried, my baby. I cried till I had no tears left.
When I found out you were moving abroad, I requested your grandparents and your Mum to not take you along. I told them that I needed you, but they didn’t agree to keep you with your Dad. When I came to meet you at airport, I didn’t know when would I be able to see you again. After you left, I used to call you regularly but I guess you were too busy with your life. I felt I was disturbing you by constantantly calling you, so I minimized them, hoping you would complain. But you never did. I never received any call from you. I was deeply upset. I didn’t have your Mum’s number and found out that your grandparents had moved to Australia. I lost all contact and the fortune of even being in contact with my daughter. I kept searching for you everywhere.
One day I found out that I had a tumor and would not be able to live for more than a year, if not treated in time. I wanted to live just to see you once, how could I die without meeting my only child. My treatment is going on. Your Daddy had not given up yet. I met your friend Sneha and told her that I didn’t want to tell you about my disease. But she realized that I was not in touch with you.
She told me that I should immediately inform you as it was your right to know about your daddy. I gave her this letter for you, to pass on if she managed to get in touch with you. I know you must be busy, but I don’t know how many days I have left. I am even not sure whether I should be writing to you aboutall this. But I can’t wait any more…
I switched off my computer and covered my face with my hands and cried loudly. There was no one to console me. The person who used to console me was dying. I really hated myself. Mum had signed the divorce paper and freed herself of all responsibilities. But what about me? How come his daughter became so stone hearted. My Daddy, my hero was dying. No, it can’t be.
I wiped my tears, booked my tickets and left a message on Mum’s mobile “Going to meet dad in Patna, he is fighting cancer.” By then, Sneha had messaged me Dad’s number along with the address of the hospital he was admitted in. I took the print out of Dad’s letter and read it hundred of times in the aircraft. I landed in Delhi and boarded the flight to Patna. Within few hours we landed in Patna. I took a taxi and rushed to the hospital.
I went directly to his room. I had asked Sneha to not inform Dad about my arrival. I really wanted to surprise him. As I entered inside, I saw a weak old man lying on a bed and reading a magazine. I watched him closely. Seeing him in this condition was killing me. I went straight to him and touched his feet. He kept the magazine on the side table and began to look at my face. Within no time, he hugged me and cried so much that even patients gathered over there to see what was going on. My tears would not stop either. I thanked God that I could meet my Dad. His face just lit up,it never occurred to me how important I was to him. We spoke endlessly with teary eyes.
Then, I went to the doctors to ask about Daddy’s condition. They told me that he was a real fighter, but he needed to be taken to Mumbai for better treatment.Within no time, and with the help of Sneha and her husband, we took him to Mumbai. By the grace of God ,my hero is recovering now.
I messaged Mum,“Mum, I will live in India with Dad… no matter what ..he was always forced to live without me. But not any more …”