As far as I remembered, she was a strong woman who could control herself in any situation. She had always turned the situations in her favor. But she was different now. The storm she felt within was changing her horribly. The tears falling off her eyes were making their paths all over her face. Seeing this, I tried to wash her face draping my tiny handkerchief into the bowl I had fetched some water from the kitchen tap.
That morning when the sun`s warm rays were still struggling beyond the horizon hoping to leap beyond the imaginary threshold they were entangled in, I felt cold. The usual warmth I was used to was not within my reach. I was not cocooned in the cozy place between my parents. The embrace of my mom`s hand that wrapped me during the night was unexpectedly lost. And the chill, as it had this advantage, turned more notorious than what it had been before.
As I felt, it was into a vengeance so intense that it was trying to tear me apart.
When it was too much to bear, I stretched my hand and glided my body expecting a warm, comfortable place where I could touch either of my parents.
To my surprise, I felt the wall –not any of them.
|Lanscape with the fall of Icarus by Pieter Brueghel the Elder|
The pillow my mother would keep against the wall ensuring my safety in case I met an unexpected collision on the wall in my sleep was also missing.
In that early hour loaded with unexpected despair, I steered on the bed and moved my upper part supporting my head to see where my parents had gone. However, an unexpected scene welcomed my vision: below the bed in one of the corners of our room, there laid my mother - sobbing horribly in desperation unknown to me.
In haste so desperate, I rubbed my eyes and wished my father to be there with her.
But he was not there, and I had no clue where to find him.
He had gone somewhere, leaving my mother all alone in such gloomy hour loaded with utter hopelessness.
``Why did he do so? `` I felt angry.
He had never gone out of home at such an early time when the stars of the night were still up fighting back the dust of the day that would soon make them vanish in the oblivion of the day.
My mother held a white paper in her hand as she let her eyes well up in tears. I had no idea, at that moment, what strength that fragile piece bore within its chest that had been so torturous, turning my mother a helpless marionette sobbing horribly beneath its strings.
When I requested my mother to explain, she did it in a manner completely incomprehensible to me.
``Read it now! Your father has something to offer for our unconditional love that we bestowed on him day and night. The reward for my 9 long years` love, service and devotion to him has finally arrived. Your father has suddenly refused to be the deity I worshipped .He finds more pleasure in being devil whose only pleasure lies in destroying others` well settled lives ``, she said, mocking at father.
While she said this, I could feel the rage in her voice. But the rage did not last very long; it soon succumbed to helplessness, emptiness and nothingness.
I took the paper and tried to read it.
My father had written a one sided declaration note to my mother. He, in that early hour, had decided to leave us forlorn forever.
No, my father was not embarking on a journey seeking salvation. He was not trying to be next lord Siddhartha. Instead, he had eloped with someone he recently fell in love with.
Devastated and forlorn, My mother remained on that chilly floor for more than 3 long hours in sleep like position while my tiny heart shivered both in pain and the chill of the day.
From time to time, I tried to pull my mother towards the bed where she could feel a bit relieved. But she pushed me aside and went on sobbing.
Seeing this, my tiny, 8 years old heart finally gave up. Then, there were two of us sobbing, wailing, and hugging each other expecting a ray of hope to emerge.
In that hour, I understood that a man tells lies; and that I was not the princess of my father. Princess was mere a word that he used to please me; he never felt it.
Had I been his princess, he would not have left me alone. Thoughts of similar kind crossed my mind off and on.
Then, I grew concerned about him.
Has he really gone? Will he not come to see us? I thought about these questions again and again.
Where might have he gone, what will happen to our plan of visiting the fun park this weekend, will he come to see me and take me there, will he keep his promise were the subsequent questions that I could not help thinking about.
|Seclusion and oblivion (by בית השלום, Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
After all, I was a kid who, more than anything else, wanted her father in her life. I wanted him to visit us once. I thought I would shake heaven and earth to stop him from wandering again. I wanted to say that because of him how our tiny haven had come crashing on earth. I wanted to show him our wounds, bits of our scattered world.
I wanted to tell him that, without him, the people around us would no longer be the same. And my mom would have an extra burden to shoulder. All these thoughts reverberated in the inner labyrinth of my mind off and on.
By this time, the day had already broken. But my mom did not move from the place where she remained helpless like a lunatic hiding her face against a wall considering the wall an ideal place where she could really safeguard herself from all the sins that were about to trespass …. I had a constant failure in tearing apart those illusionary curtains she preferred to engulf in. As far as I remembered, she was a strong woman who could control herself in any situation. She had always turned the situations in her favor. But she was different now. The storm she felt within was changing her horribly. The tears falling off her eyes were making their paths all over her face. Seeing this, I tried to wash her face draping my tiny handkerchief into the bowl I had fetched some water from the kitchen tap. Just then, there was a knock at the door. I answered it. There she stood Nitu aunt, one of our mother`s friends. She carried a plate full of food.
I was wondering how she knew what had happened in our family.
She went to my mother and insisted my mother to control herself.
`` You should be strong in this hour ``, she said, `` mourning the one who dishonored your love, commitment and service of such a long time will give you nothing except both physical and mental weakness. Be strong! You have a beautiful daughter to look after. ``
As they started to talk, I was told to go inside. She said that it was not good for a child to stay and lend an ear to what elders talk.
Later on, more women joined them. ``You should file a case against him, `` one of the aunts who had opened an NGO for women`s welfare suggested my mom.
One of them suggested that my mom should visit Maiti Nepal. The aunt there will fetch my father from his hideout.
I did not understand them. All their talk was turning Greek to me.
``Will ever our life be normal, `` I thought again.
Where has all our happiness gone? What evil eyes have befallen on our happy life? There were no answers to be found.
My father had left us. It was a bitter truth .Nonetheless; I could not bear to hold him a criminal.
Just a day back, he was my lovely father.
But the aunts went on talking about him, his crime and the punishment he deserved.
``He must be punished, ``they said in unison.
Turning deaf ears to what her friends said, my mom decided to move on with her life. She did not file a case; she did not make hue and cry for what had happened in her life. `There must be some defect in my love, devotion and service, `` she said, instead.
Slowly, her woes, worries and desperation settled on her chest like an apron she wore while working in hospital.
As the dust of misfortune started to settle down, she started burying herself in the study while I tried to forget and forgive my dad. But it was not easy for me to forget him.
The ghosts of his memory followed me day and night. And like a somnambulist, I started to quench my morbid whim searching him everywhere my eyes could reach.
While in school bus, I would look out of the window trying to find him in the crowd.
Once, a strange and embarrassing thing happed: I saw someone like him near Sundhara.
``Dad…! `` I had screamed, pulling the attention of all in the bus.
Later on, they talked a lot about me and my madness.
When the news flew to my mother, she could not bear it. She had almost broken into pieces. ``Nishu, find your father in me .I am both your father and mother .You will run the risk of being a mad if you try to search him in the crowd, my child. It was he who decided to leave us. We did not do it. Do you remember it?
``If he loves you, he will contact you; ask your whereabouts. I will never come between you and your father. He can meet you whenever he likes. But has this happened in 2 long years ever since he left us? ``she said.
Then, she started to sob….
Hugging my mom in that gloomy hour, I made a promise to her and myself that I would forget him; I would go for nothing which would bring tears in her eyes. But it was not easy. My father`s memory still haunted me. And it still does
Born and brought up in Kanchanpur, Saptari, Nepal, Sanjiwan Pradhan left for Middle East in the year 2006 for a job which was not so lucrative but proved to be a chance to see the world. His conviction has been that a man should leave his home, see the world, find his calling and try to be fulfill doing what he loves to do. He strongly believes that his calling is creative writing.
An avid reader, a lover of classic novels, he has written several short stories. One of them is ``The Final Tears`` which has been selected by Ayush Books India for their Anthology that is hitting the market this Diwali. Currently, he lives in Kathmandu and plans to continue to live here and pursue his writing carrier.