As she turned the key of the door to her apartment, she found an envelope projecting from the crevice in the door. She found her name Stella Mathew written clearly with proper address in long hand. It was a printed envelope from a church in a town about 250 miles away. Wondering whether it could be a request for a donation or for voluntary service, she pulled the white sheet from inside.
Your presence is required at 4pm day after tomorrow at the church adjacent to the main bus stand. I shall explain the purpose when we meet. You will not feel sorry for having come. You can return the same day. Please do not fail to come.
Stella was wondering what the pastor had to do with her and why this cryptic letter. She missed her granny now. She had always an answer for all her doubts and questions. She passed away three months ago. It was her granny who brought her up ever since Stella’s mother passed away when she was five years. The relationship between her dad and granny soured when he married someone else within six months of her mom's demise. There was some heated exchange of words and he stopped coming and even being in touch with his daughter. There was no contact and even his whereabouts were not known.
Stella was brought up by her granny single handedly. After her Master's she is now an officer in a bank. Her granny's only grouse was that though 27 years, Stella had not found the right man for herself. The old woman wanted her well settled in life before her end. But that was not destined.
She was now alone and her thoughts went back to her dad. There is a hazy memory of a tall man from the photograph of her mom and dad taken soon after their wedding. She could never the see the picture again. She suspected her granny must have hidden it away. On only one occasion he had come to her school and asked her teacher's permission to take her out for one hour. That was refused as he had come without her guardian's approval. He gave her a silver locket with Jesus picture and said he loved her a lot. Stella said she missed him too and wanted him to come frequently. Granny was furious when she heard about it and she did not know what had happened but he stopped visiting her thereafter.
She reached the church by 3.45 pm.There were lot of people in an adjacent hall with all of them looking grim. It looked a solemn and sad occasion. Some of them went round an open gasket placed at one end. She was in panic as fear enveloped her that it could be her dear dad. Tears flowed from her eyes and the last visit at the school came to her mind. She started sobbing when everyone turned towards her. Was it for seeing her dad for the last time the pastor had called her, she wondered.Summoning courage she started moving towards the gasket when she felt an arm touch her shoulder. She turned to see the pastor looking at her with a smile.
“Stella, I assume. I was waiting for you in my room at the church. When you did not turn up, I thought you would have strayed here by mistake. Come with me" he said
She followed him meekly to his room."You must have been shocked to see the gasket and made wrong assumption" he said with a laugh.
"You are right. I thought it could be my dad. Otherwise why would you have called me?"
"I agree you were right in making such a surmise though it is wrong. Do you love your dad so much? You have hardly seen him except once. Do you remember the occasion?" he asked.
“How do you know” she asked as she opened her hand bag and took out the locket."This was given by him. I see this daily and get the feel of being close to him. Yes I love him deeply no matter what my granny felt about him. He is my daddy and none can take that away from me."
He laughed and said "I told you that you will not regret your coming here. Would you like to meet your dad? I can arrange it now."
She jumped with joy and implored him to take her to him that very moment. "That will be the greatest blessing I have been praying for" she said
He hugged her and said "Stella, I am your dad. I came to know of your grandmother's demise only last week. I thought she will forgive me now from the Heaven and decided that I should meet you immediately. The cryptic message was to surprise you. Come to my living quarters in the rear."
As they entered hand in hand, she asked “Where is my mom? I don't see anyone here"
"She too passed away two years back."He showed on the wall two photographs of her mother and her step mother. He brought a box and handed it over to her and said “These contain jewels of your step mother. These are for you. Do come frequently. That would make me a happy man"“Daddy, how lucky and blessed I am. Can I seek a transfer to this town and come here?”