It is more than three years since I had seen my dad. He is still at the same house where I grew and lived till my marriage. Having lost my mom at a young age, he was everything to me, both mom and dad. I am the only child born late to my parents. He did not marry again. He showered his affection and pampered me meeting every wish of mine. I did not miss my mother much as a result. He put me in the best school and would remain awake in the night till I completed my study. He would make tea for me when I studied till the wee hours of the morning and get up early to make my breakfast and lunch.
When I went to college, he bought me a scooter and encouraged me to choose the discipline that I liked even when it was not popular. He instilled in me the confidence to stand by my conviction. When I finished my college and post graduate degree in journalism, his joy knew no bounds.
After I joined a newspaper, he said one day "Lakshmi, I am getting old. I would like to see you married. I am getting proposals from different quarters."
"Daddy, it is good you broached the subject. In fact I wanted to tell you but was feeling hesitant as I did not know how you would react. I am in love with a man who studied with me in the college. He is well employed and comes from a good family but belongs to a different religion. Please allow me to marry him. I cannot think of anyone else in his place" I said
For the first time in my life I saw him explode in rage as he shouted at me" You ungrateful brat, is this what you do to me after all the sacrifice of mine for your well being? I will not permit you. If you still marry him, you are no more my daughter nor am I your daddy. You make up your mind whether you want me or not"
I did not pursue the matter immediately as the vague parental misgiving needed to be handled gently and gave time for his anger to subside. After a week I tried to reason with him but in vain. When he was adamant even after two months, I steeled myself and walked out of the house. I soon got married to my lover and had a child too. I tried after sometime to reach him but my dad neither welcomed nor visited me. I sent him letters that were unanswered.
His birthday was approaching. I had heard from a neighbor of his that he had not been keeping well. May be due to this, I had a bad dream that he was very sick and that he wished to see me. When I got up in the morning, my desire to meet him was overpowering. My husband suggested that we all go and meet him but I rejected the idea as I was not sure how he would treat my husband.
I decided to go with my little daughter. He was just three hours drive away in a different town. I bought some fruits and sweets and waited for the bus. I was told that the bus from that town was delayed and would take its return journey once it arrived. As I was waiting, I fervently prayed that my dad should accept me and agree to come and live with us. I wished to ensure that his remaining years are spent in comfort and homely atmosphere. But there was a trepidation that he may refuse even to meet me. I was however determined not to return without making up with him.
The waiting passengers around me stood up getting ready to board as the bus arrived at the bus stand.As I picked up my daughter and the bag waiting for my turn in the line, I saw among the passengers alighting, a frail figure climbing down. When I saw it was my dad, I was excited beyond words and shouted “Daddy, daddy” He turned towards me and came rushing with a broad smile on his face. I knew that instant he had changed. He snatched my daughter from my hands and showered kisses on her much to her bewilderment and fear.
What brought about this transformation I knew not but I was certain that my prayer was answered as I proudly walked hand in hand with him towards my residence and what will be his too henceforth.