It was a memorable day, a day that Shreya would never forget. She had visited many places of mesmerizing beauty in Kodaikanal including the suicide point, which had a breathtaking view of the valley. It had been as if she was viewing heaven. The best thing was that her father had been her companion.
Back in their room, Shreya sensed that her father was distracted, more so than usual. He was gazing out of the window, which faced a bare wall; he didn’t hear when she called. Such symptoms were not unusual in her father who was an author. But this didn’t seem like one of his usual trapped-in-a-story distraction. She knew her father well enough to understand that something was bothering him; after all, they had been there for each other for the last eighteen years, from the time when she was three months old. Her mother had died in a car accident while on a trip with her friends then.
“Papa, what is bothering you? Won’t you tell me?” Shreya asked, sitting near her father and placed her hands on the shoulders of her father.
“eh?” he asked as though he had not heard her.
“Tell me Papa, what is bothering you? I have been watching you since the past one hour. The sandwich I ordered for you, has turned cold, and you haven’t heard a word of what I have been blabbering in the last hour. Tell me, aren’t we the best of friends,” Shreya asked, touching her father’s chin as though their roles had reversed, as though he was a troubled teenager.
Letting out a deep sigh, Samay Batra smiled, a smile that resembled more like a grimace.
“Just memories, child. They never seem to leave me alone. Today’s trip was hard on me. This place holds a lot of memories,” said Samay.
“Tell me Papa, you always say that sharing your troubles to someone takes away the pain. Did something remind you of mom, today?” she asked, her voice almost a whisper as she knew she was entering forbidden territory.
Her father never talked to her about her mother but she knew he had never been able to forget her, to let her go. At home, he would gaze at her photo for hours together on some days. If Shreya asked about her mother, he would change topics to avoid talking about her.
“Yes kid, some memories never leave you alone,” said her father.
“But Papa, haven’t you told me a thousand times that we should not live in the past nor should allow the past to rule over our present? Why can’t you leave it all where they belong- right there in your past?”
“Darling, love, especially unrequited love is something that haunts you forever. You are never able to come in terms with that if you have fallen hard in love.”
“Unrequited love? You had married mother with whom you had fallen in love. I can’t understand you now.”
“Let me make it clear, I will begin at the beginning. I had met your mother here, right near that suicide point. I was on a writing trip and she was on a college tour. While posing for a photo near the viewpoint, she slipped and started to fall. I was near and caught her. In that moment, I fell in love with her; I thought destiny had thrown her into my hands. She thanked me, we exchanged address, and I found that she lived quite near my place back home though we had never met. Like a flower, I adored her from distance thinking I might harm her in some way. I didn’t think I deserved her, she was a bubbly, smart girl who brought sunshine into lives of others. My mother who was worried at my refusal to marry found about my obsession with Kavya. She approached her parents and they were thrilled at the proposal of marriage from a bestselling author. We were married within a month. The Kavya who entered my life was completely different from the person I fell in love with. She didn’t love me, I was late, she had fallen in love with a classmate and pined away for him daily. I came to know about it in a very painful manner,” said her father and paused.
Stunned by the revelation, Shreya waited for her father to continue.
“She accused me of marital rape when she found she had fallen pregnant with you. She told me she never loved me, hated it when I touched her, told me she felt soiled, dirty. Those were her very words. I begged her to give me one last gift and that then I would set her free. I asked her the gift of the child she was carrying inside her.”
“Papa…stop, I don’t need to hear further,” said Shreya, thinking about how her mother might have hated her existence right from the beginning.
For a while, both fell silent. Samay started to tremble with the suppressed sobs that had been brought forth by memories. Shreya decided that she must hear him out, help him vent the truth, which he might have never told anyone.
“”Tell me Papa, then what happened? Tell me, I need to know about that woman who might have wanted to kill me even before I breathed.”
“No my dear, she loved you. She doted on you from the moment she came to know about your presence in her body . She hated me. I couldn’t see the hatred in her eyes. So, I found the person whom she loved and helped them meet again,” said Samay.
“But why Papa? Had you stopped loving her? I have seen you watch her photo for hours. Why did you do it?” Shreya asked.
“Because my child, true love liberates. If you truly love a person you would set them free, you would never want to chain them to something that they hate. Their happiness becomes your happiness,” said Samay.
“And then what happened?” Shreya asked, deciding to hate her mother even more for having left her father who loved her so much.
“I shouldn’t have let them go. They met with an accident five miles from our house and she was lost to me forever,” said Samay, dropping his face onto his hands, and began sobbing uncontrollably.
And the tears never stopped.
This post has been written for Indispire