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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Free Bird 4

Read the previous part here

The father-daughter duo sat on the peach green upholstered sofa in the drawing room. They browsed through the old family photos, gossiped about relatives and had a good time all the while waiting for Sandip to come.

'You must be hungry. I will serve the dinner.' Sneha said to her father.
'Let us all eat together.'
'It is already quarter-past eight. How long should we wait?' Sneha asked.
'Wait. I forgot to show you something.' Her father said and went to the room inside. He emerged with two neatly packed boxes in his wrinkled hands.

'What is this?' Sneha asked.
'Why don't you see it yourself.'
'This appears to be a gift. It is your birthday and you should be the one who should be receiving presents.'
'At my age happiness consists of seeing your children happy.'

Sneha opened the box. It contained mauve coloured Peter England shirt. 'Oh, Papa I simply loved it. You are the best papa in the world.' Sneha squealed in excitement as she ran her fingers across the shirt to feel its silky texture.

Sneha was never quite fond of draping herself in shiffon sarees or wearing embellished salwar suits. She always felt comfortable in formal shirts and pants. Noses were scrunched as she began to wear only shirts and pants. There were murmurs around which implied the girl was slipping from hands. There came a point when even Sandip opposed her dressing style. 'Remember you are a girl. Don't try to be a boy.' He had said.

'I am being just myself and it is none of your business.' Sneha wanted to say. But before she could say anything her father intervened. 'My son,' he said, 'She is my daughter and your sister. Merely because we are related by blood doesn't mean that we own each other. Every person has freedom to live the way he wants which of course includes choice of dressing. You say her that again and I will throw you out of the house. Don't forget even if I don't own you two, I certainly own this house.'

That was the moment when Sneha wanted to hug her father in a tight embrace. Indeed, he was the best father in the world. A father which ever girl would love to have. But sensing the changed colours on Sandip's countenance, she somehow controlled her emotions.

The phone rang. Sneha rose from the sofa and scuttled to answer it. 'Must be Sandip.' she said. She was right.
'Where are you?' She asked. 'What? How can you be so irresponsible. Don't you remember its father's birthday today.' Sandip had called to convey that he and his friends were going to have a sleepover at a friend's place. Sneha knew very well what that meant. It meant the boys were going to booze all night. Her temples flared up. But before she could speak anything, her father gestured to handover the phone to him. He spoke in monosyllables like hmm and yes.

Now Sneha was angry at her father as well. She felt he should have rebuked Sandip, instead of agreeing to all that he said. She damed her emotions and went to the kitchen. She took a deep breath, wriggled her body like a cherubic bird drying its wings. This was her stress relieving technique. She had changed her mood as if she had changed a TV channel. She laid the food on the table. She arranged candles on the cake. She wore a genuine, warm smile and escorted her father to the dining room. She made him cut the cake and took his pictures on her mobile phone while he did so. She could see it in his eyes, on his face and in his entire body language. He was very very happy. Both of them had lunch and Sneha told her father that he cooked the best kurkuri bhindi in the world.

After their dinner while Sneha was keeping the left overs in the fridge. Her father who was seated on a cane chair in the adjoining balcony said, 'Raj had called.' Hearing his name Sneha was stunned. Although she had placed all the containers in the fridge, it didn't occur to her that she should close the fridge. His name coursed a range of emotions inside her. She wanted to hear more about him. She wanted to know how was he doing in his life. She wanted to know if he had enquired about her. That is when her father said, 'He had called to wish me.' Sneha's shoulders stooped and she closed the fridge. All her excitement fizzled out. She consoled herself. There was no point in running after a dream that would never turn true. 
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