The second installment for the day.. I know folks that it is a bit slow read.. Thank you for your patience..
It was a moonless night too that night.
It was a long moonless night. It’s strange how one thought in the mind can activate a lot more in series. Wake up those long slept and find the lost ones in the mind too. I felt it, like it was the same night today as it was 2 years back.
Winter had begun and the nights were cold. I was staying back that day at the hospital. The doctors had said that Dad wouldn’t make it. So it was Casy who asked me to stay back. We were visiting him. The last time I had seen him was on his wedding day. Not because I was angry at him and never wanted to see him. It’s just that, that day I felt that we both dint know each other anymore. He had called my hostel a week before. He said that after mama passed away, he felt a lot lonely and had met a girl. She liked him too and so they had decided to marry.
I felt a strange privilege that day. Not everybody gets a chance to attend their father’s wedding. I had.
Not every father would take the pain of informing it over a phone call. He had.
In fact he even pointed it out to me that he dint wanted to embarrass me in front of my friends and so dint send an invitation card.
That day at the wedding, I dint stay for long too. I went with a gift. Posed for some pictures. Smiled. Congratulated the bride and groom and left after food. And never saw him again. My life at the boarding continued just like it had from past years. Occasional phone calls and timely deposited bank statement detailing was the only contact we ever had. Then college and so on. We both went ahead on our separate ways. Neither complaining once.
But that day, he looked different. Strangely we both looked similar. Helpless, clueless and running short of words to talk. His face had lots of wrinkles as if each year that had passed by, drew a line on his face. Just like the rings on the tree.
He was breathing slowly.
I was sitting near the window and looking out the city lit night sky and the zipping traffic of the city. Noiseless from within the hospital room. For the first time, I found the moving lights of vehicles and the busy roads beautiful.
“She is pretty” he said. His voice was very low. Had lost its strength. “Reminded me of your mother when I had seen her for the first time.” He was trying to smile. I walked close to his bed, pulled a chair and sat down. I tried to smile back but looking at him like that, I couldn’t manage to fake a decent one. I tried one though. I nodded my head in agreement. Casy was indeed pretty. There was no argument on that. He looked at me with blank eyes expecting me to continue. I had sensed a strange desperation his voice.
A father’s desperation to have a conversation with his son.
“We met in college. She was in my class.” I was trying to make the conversation look natural but my stammering for words was giving it away. “I met her family during our engagement.” I continued while he was looking at me with curious eyes. I paused.
“Go on... Am glad you are engaged. Am sorry I couldn’t make it to your engagement. I had received your invitation. I was hospitalized that week. Else I would have definitely been there.”
He was trying hard to speak normally. But despite his hard attempts, his voice was just audible. “That’s okay. I dint know either.” I said. “Casy wanted to meet you. In fact she was the one who forced me to stay back with you tonight.”
The last part would have sounded offensive and hurtful but between us, there was no need to fake any emotions that never existed. “She was really happy and glad to meet you. She said that she had lots of plans for you and us once you are fine.”
That last part was a lie. Was not necessary at all but I don’t know why I said that. Everybody including him knew that he wouldn’t make it. And Casy had no such plans either. The truth is that she cried all the way back to home and insisted me to stay with him in his last moments. And so I was there.
He smiled. He held his hand out for me. I held it. I was feeling very odd with these sudden outburst of emotions from his end. He seemed soft. He was a strong man. A man who lived his life on his own terms. Not once he had shown any signs of emotions for me during my childhood. He never showed any signs of hate towards me too. No sign of regret or guilt when his second wife left him. But alone there in his last moments, seeing him weak and unsaid words that of feeling guilty made me wonder who my father really was. The man whom I knew and the man whose hand I was holding then. “I know” he said. “I know it’s too late for me to say this now but am so glad that you are here. Thank you. And am sorry for what I did to you.”
A tear made its way out from his eye. He dint try to conceal it. I was feeling numb. I wanted to shout at him. Complain, cry, and fight with him for all those years and what he did. For him abandoning me just like that and now a expecting everything to be fine with a sorry. I felt a lump in my throat and it was hard to breath at that moment. “It’s okay.” I replied back. Rather, I felt it wasn’t even me. I never had any plans of letting everything go over a mere sorry or anything ever. But I don’t know why, I couldn’t stop myself then. “You are my father. There is nothing you need to be sorry for. I love you no matter what. Always have.”
It was not happening. I tried to convince myself that I was lying that night to a man who might not live long, but I knew that deep within, I loved him and yearned to be with him. He was all I had to call as family. Deep inside I wanted to make every moment that was left count. That moment, I realized that I am my father’s son. Lots of things inside and never once we let them out. He was definitely not what he seemed like. That night I discovered something about myself. Holding his hand and watch him struggle to keep a smile in midst of the wet eyes, I cried. In tears we resolved what we never could do in words.
We spent few more hours talking before he slept. How I was doing in life, about my work, about how Casy and I fell in love. I was talking mostly. Apart from a few questions, he just listened carefully. Smiling mostly to whatever I said. He slept after taking his medications.
And never woke up.
A cold breeze brought me back. It was 1 o’clock. I was tired but not sleepy. I wanted to go back and sleep. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I took a deep breath. I decided to read the diary aunt had left me. It was a moonless night like this when dad died. It was a moonless night like this when I found my father back. Maybe Casy was right. The diary might have something nice.
I walked back inside. Made a glass of black coffee.
Sat down on my chair. I had a diary in my hand.
A diary with a black cover. I opened it up and started to read.