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Friday, 1 April 2022

At Cross-Roads

As per the Hindu philosophy the greatest of all debts is the one which is owe to your father. You owe a debt to your father, for bringing you into this world, giving you his name and for providing you with all necessities. The rites of tarpana, pinda dana and shradha are devised to repay this debt which you owe to your father. I couldn’t perform any of these rites for reasons which I will describe latter.

My father was not a bad man. But he wasn’t like a father. He was like a visitor. My earliest memories of him are of Sundays. Though my mom says that it was not always like that, and he stayed with us throughout the week, I have not even faint memories of those days.  Sunday was the day when he would come to see me. He would bring me lot of toys and sweets, and I would look forward for his visit.

But then the frequency of his visits reduced. Whenever, he came, there would be an eerie silence. On one such visits he beaconed me. He held me tightly by his chest and said, ‘You are just eight. You are too small to understand what I am saying. But my child, I would be erring in my duty, if I don’t tell you this. There is nothing wrong or right. Still there is a pang of guilt rising in my chest. You are my favourite and will continue to be one. Merely, because I may not come here again, doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. As a father, I will see to it that you will are provided with all that you need. There are certain battles which are to be fought alone, and those are internal battles. I have had mine. May God grant you the courage to fight your own. Hope you forgive me. Someday you will understand me. That was the only day when I saw tears welled up in his eyes, and that was the time when I last saw him.

Exactly, twenty-two years after that incident, today when I am standing in his shoes, I know how difficult it must have been for him. I want to hug him and say, ‘Papa I understand you. Now that life has brought me at the same cross-roads, please guide me.’

His words ring in my ears. There are certain battles which are to be fought alone, and those are internal battles. I have had mine. May God grant you the courage to fight your own.

‘It is not about giving a morsel of rice to your ancestors. It is about the bhava dasha, the kind of feelings you ascribe for them. The purpose of all these rituals was to express gratitude towards your ancestors. Otherwise, money and food are not required in the ether world.’ Guruji had told me when I had confessed my problem to him. Guruji never gave straight forward solutions. He just kindled a thought. It was you who had to decide the path.

I devised my own way on repaying the debt of my father. It would give me a closure as well. I opened my wardrobe and packed my clothes. I wrote a leave application and emailed it.

‘Delhi again?’ Somi my wife asked me. She cut the corner of the milk sachet and poured its contents in the vessel.
‘Office work.’ I replied cryptically.
She kept the milk to boil on the stove, stood akimbo and checked her mobile.
‘Listen, even I may have to go to Pune for three days. My office has arranged a three days seminar. I really hate them. But now that even you are not there for an entire week, I feel that this seminar is a blessing in disguise.’

The milk spilled out of the vessels. I lunged and turned the gas off.
‘Oh! I am really sorry for that.’ Somi said.

I watched her intently as she cleaned the kitchen top with a mop. This was the woman I had fallen for – peach complexioned, almond eyed intelligent beauty. She was looking enchanting even in the floral velvet nightie that she was wearing.
‘What?’ She shrugged her shoulders and blushed. Suppressing her smile she said, ‘Why are you staring like that at me?’

I folded my hands across my chest and continued watching her.
‘You know, I am not used to so much admiration. So, before all negative thoughts crop in my mind, you better get busy with other things.’

Her words fell into my ears like molten lava. Was she a mind reader or what? My face turned white. I returned to my room and picked my bag. I checked the wrist watch. There were still three hours for the flight. But now I was suffocating in this house again. I opened the door and stomped out.

The plane had elevated and kissed the bellowing clouds. The miniature houses were now screened by the white clouds. I wish I could similarly create a screen between the two lives that I was living. Theoretically everything is feasible.  But the mind, that is all the time in conflict with the head, creates all the confusion. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

I woke up with the announcement that the plane was soon going to land in Delhi. I had been to Delhi a few times. Most of those visits were official and many times I had a meeting with the clients in the hotels and took the late-night return flight. Delhi for me was just another city. Having seen all the places of interest in my school excursion, I didn’t find them interesting any longer. Indore was home and Delhi a distant land. But today things were different and a bit difficult too.

‘I know the place Tarun. It is in the outskirts of Delhi. But why do you want to go there?’ Krishna my friend from Delhi asked.
‘Someone enquired with me. I don’t know much about Delhi, so thought would ask you. Krishna, don’t mind, I am in middle of something. Can I call you after some time, maybe this weekend?’ I said and hung up the phone.

I took the taxi.
‘1…..’ I told the address to the driver. Fortunately, the sardar taxi driver was not judgmental like Krishna.

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  1. You are a good storyteller, I’m waiting for the next installment!

  2. That's an interesting first person narrative. I'm curious to know what happens next. :)

  3. Interesting narrative. Enjoyed reading the post!

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  5. Intresting and enjoyed reading your post

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  6. Eagerly waiting for next part....