Since my childhood, I have been hearing the hoo-has of the people who saw me the first time. I knew God had endowed me with unusual beauty and a perfect figure and I was naturally proud about it. While at my college, I toyed with the idea of becoming a model and had my portfolio made. As my parents expressed their disapproval, I dropped the plan and plunged into my studies to become a lawyer.
We were a small happy family of three with my parents showering all their love on me. Nothing was denied to me and all my whims and wishes were promptly complied with. My heart would swell with pride when they often called me a sensible girl. I was my dad’s favorite and not a day would pass without our exclusive short conversations after the dinner in my study room. He will look for long with satisfaction at the enlarged photo of mine that I had hung over my study table. That incidentally was the best photo from the portfolio I had chosen. I did not hang any other photo in my adjacent bed room.
“Richa, I was mentioning to my lawyer friend, who is the chief partner of the leading law firm, Roshan & Sharma, that you would be completing your Masters in law shortly. Do you want to hear what he said?” said her father one day
“Surely, what did he say?” I asked eagerly.
“He said that you should join his firm and that it would be his responsibility to mentor you till you become a partner of the firm eventually. Poor man, he has no child of his own.,” said my father.
My dad has been keeping indifferent health and had a multi graft bypass. He was always of wanting me settled well in life.
“Stop worrying about me,dad. I hope to do very well in the examinations and would be happy to join them.
Months passed by and I had secured high rank in the university examination. My dad’s delight knew no bounds when I joined his friend’s firm as junior assistant. Life was becoming hectic and often I spent late hours in office preparing briefs for the seniors.
I must share with you one curious thing about the strange behaviour of my dad of late since a couple of months. He retired to bed usually at 11 pm after watching some serial on the TV along with mother. I have been seeing him entering my study room daily at 10.45 pm as if stealthily without making any noise and spend a few minutes there. Since he was doing this without commotion, I did not confront him when he entered daily. I respected his wish for privacy. I wondered what he found interesting on my study table. Neither the law books nor the briefs that I prepared would interest him as he was no lawyer. My curiosity overcame my initial disinclination and peeped one day unobserved when he was there. I saw him sitting crouched on the chair before my table and staring at my photo and mumbling something.
I knew he was worried about his deteriorating health and he saw less of TV these days spending more time resting on recliner. But why was he not meeting me instead of entering my study when I was not there. Was he trying to avoid me for any reason lest I find about his declining health? I decided to confront him the next day.
I had heavy work that day and had to also attend the court. I was in the bed listening to Shreya Ghosal. When I saw the watch, it was 10.42pm and I rushed out to see my dad walking back to his bed room. I tip toed silently behind him and stood unseen at the door to see my mom readying to ask him something. I strained my ears to hear my mom admonishing him, “How many times should I tell you to take care of yourself? At this rate I am afraid you will fall sick seriously sooner than later.”
“I was just spending a few minutes in Richa’s study. What is wrong with that and why do you make a fuss about it?” he replied rather diffidently.
“It only means you are still grieving much over her even after she left us bereaved in an accident three months back. It is not good for you in your frail health or for her. If you wish, I will have the photo fixed tomorrow opposite to our bed,” my mom softly said wiping her tears as she led him up to the cot.
I suddenly felt very lonely and lost.