It was the kind of day that you don’t really think will be the kind of day to change your life forever, in such a far reaching way as you could never ever imagine it could. A perfectly pleasant, happy Sunday it was. I was dropped off by my mom to my maternal aunt’s home which was one suburb away, and my father went off on a picnic with his office colleagues. My father. It is a word I haven’t used too often in my life, because my life changed irrevocably after that day. 22nd February 1982. I was nine. My mother came to pick me up suddenly, and her eyes were swollen and red. Another aunt was with her. They looked at me with sympathy. Something had happened, I could understand. But what. My mother was dressed in her home clothes. That set off warning bells in my head. “Daddy’s gone,” she told me. “Gone where?” I asked. “When is he coming back?” “He wont come back now,” she replied. “Never.” And she took me into her arms and burst into sobs. I don’t remember much of what happened after that. We were shepherded back to my paternal ancestral home. My mother sobbed nonstop. My father’s body arrived. It felt cold. Like stone. There were bruises on his body. Inexplicable bruises. They say it was a sudden heart attack, we will never know what happened. Life, as I knew it, as the overindulged, pampered, precocious favourite of the family, was over. I was now the outcast.
Anyway. That’s all done with. And that’s the mother’s strength, that she took me to adulthood with only a suitcase of clothes and no family support, and back then when my father passed away, no home and no money and no job. It was a tough year in transition. We moved from temporary home to temporary home. I became a latchkey child, travelling from Goregaon to Bandra where my school was, while my mother gave tuitions to bring in income. She then got a job on compassionate grounds at the bank my father worked in, and residential quarters. Life got better.
Growing up, a girl without a father or a brother, is tough. I need not elaborate. I grew up. I fell in love. I got married. I had a son. But the vacuum still remains. What would life had been like had my father been around to guide me, to shape my life. Would I have taken the decisions I did, would I have been a different person, would I have had the opportunities and the gumption to take more risks with my life and career instead of settling for the security of domesticity. I wonder. I wonder if my father would have approved of my husband, they’re a lot alike I realise that now, almost like I was hunting down a clone of my father. Both recklessly handsome, athletic, sporty, with overpowering personalities, a primary difference being that my father was a sunny, outgoing personality, while the spouse, god bless his Grinchness, is one hell of an introvert, the kind you find at parties, hiding in a corner nursing his drink, terrified he will be drawn out to make conversation. How would my father have loved my son? He would have laid down the moon and the stars at his feet and pampered him worse than he pampered me.
But then, life has a plan, and this must have been life’s plan for me. To give me a wonderful father for too short a time for me to appreciate him. To make me grow up and become independent, earning my living by the time I was 19. And to ensure that even 30 years later, this mother of one still feels, within her heart a 9 year old, daddy’s little girl, still waiting for daddy to come home.