Eternal Duty As Father
Eternal Duty As Father
This is Somiya, calling for free credit card offer
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This is the first call of the day I received on a Monday morning when dusting the mementos, prize trophies at my drawing-room. This is my weekly morning routine. The sales call was recited like a poem. I listened patiently until she stopped, did not disconnect, which generally I do. I heard her taking a deep breath, finally, she asked, ‘Are you interested Sir’?
I could recognise her voice instantly and why not, she was my daughter. She left me last spring with her own choice of husband. The choice did not match mine, she was desperate, so was I in my ego. She preferred friends over father and have no contact for almost a year now. Over a period of months, the wish of seeing my offspring overpowered my ego. I longed to listen to her, see her; when I suddenly got this call.
I composed myself quickly to not let her know who am I, for I knew she would disconnect immediately. To avoid the fear of my daughter recognizing me, I put up my dusting tower on the phone and started talking.
Madam, I have no Credit Card, nevertheless I do not want to keep credit card. I’m not a believer of living on someone else’s money.
Somiya: Sir, you should have one. Everyone in today’s world needs a credit card, there are so many benefits. You get points on every purchase, you accumulate those points and at the end of the year you would get a free gift from some reputed brands.
I said, but Madam, I do not want to live in credit.
Somiya: Living in Credit is a wise idea, Sir. In case you are short of money, you can buy and pay at the end of the month. If you are still short of money at the end of that particular month, our company consider extended repayment, twice a year. No other credit card company provides such flexibility. There are no late fees, or fine for that. This is an awesome offer Sir and above all, it is free of cost.
I said, but in any case, I have to pay at the end of each month, right? I was answering as short as possible to listen to her more. I was framing my question in such a way that promotes her to talk more. I was not interested in her explanation and content related to credit card, I was interested in her sweet voice only. I was longing for this clear, confident commanding speech; I have been listening to all my life until last spring. I had taught her all these soft skills so meticulously since her school days.
During her early school days, when I realized that she is not sharp in academics, I had to change my strategy of not engaging her to more of mathematics or science, rather focus on the enhancement of oratory skills, proper usage of language, ways of convincing people. I taught her how voice modulation attracts listeners to listen deeply until one finishes the sentence. Long sentences are boring, emphasized ways to form short sentences, practiced to pause for few seconds after long sentences so that the listener grasps what the speaker says and to give the listener the opportunity to speak out his/ her queries. Monologues do not create interest in the audience. Until the talk so far, I could imagine, a daughter could acquire all the skills I bestowed upon and its implementation is nearly perfect this far.
Somiya: Yes Sir, you have to pay at the end of the month but the payment is exactly the amount you spent throughout the month, no top-up fees from our company. You, being educated, must be controlling purchase based on income and purchasing power.
I realised that she also had acquired the tricks of lying by stating half-sentence, half information. I did not teach her this aspect. To test her, I asked, Madam, you said that the card is free of cost but please clarify if it is free of cost for the second year onwards as well.
Somiya: Sir, it is free of cost for the first year but chargeable later; but Sir, we have a different product of credit card for lifetime free. She continued, Sir, you must be riding a car or bike and must be using oil for at least one thousand rupees a month which amounts to significant twelve thousand a year. You would earn 200 points from Oil Company which would enable you one time oil change of your car or bike free of cost. In any case, you have to change the oil once a year. Sir, I can offer you a lifetime free credit card also but it would not be suitable for your kind of personality.
Seems daughter has acquired a lot of skills during her professional career and she is flawless as saleswoman. When I caught her telling half information on card fees, she switched topic and carefully avoided an inevitable conflict. She knows conflict would immediately erase the chance of selling her product. Moment later, when she realised that the conflict has been avoided, came back to on the topic and informed that there is another offer for which there are no yearly fees. By this statement, she cleared up herself of the tentativeness got created on the Customer’s mind. She also knows well how to tactfully increase ego level of customer, by way of stating Customer’s personality. Personally is related to a person’s fondness to oneself. In any instance, if someone can boost the ego of Customer, giving due respect, a positive frame of mind is created on the Customer’s mind. The salesmen, saleswomen continue talking until they feel they have reached to this point, sealing the deal then is an automatic process. They are trained by professionals, rehearse hours to achieve this skill set.
Somiya: Sir, have you made up your mind or should I explain to you more. If you can give me time, I can personally meet you at your home, explain in much detail and handover brochure for more information and a series of benefits our credit card provides. I affirm you, Sir, you would not lose anything.
I kept silent to test her patience and see if she hung up the phone thinking of a bad target or has kept her original character of not abandoning anything that has been initiated. Since childhood daughter was like an eagle, once hooked some prey into her claw, the instinct would not release the claws in any condition. I could hear her breathe, I am familiar with the rhyme of her breath. I was predicting how she would start her last phase of discussion. She had immense patience in her professional work. She would still be polite in her last part and talk in the same positive, enthusiastic manner she started. My guess, she would not disconnect unless I say a firm ‘NO’.
Somiya: Sir, hope you are online and taking the time for your decision. I completely leave the decision onto you. If you need time, I shall call you back tomorrow or meet you, in case that does not cause inconvenience to your schedule.
Okay Madam, tell me how you got my phone number. Yes, Sir, we get these numbers in random selection from a third party market surveyor and auto dialed by a caller machine. She was brief on this out of context query. I said I would meet you today at 5:30 pm near Toy train counter at the park. There would not be any issue in recognizing me, I would wear a deep blue shirt. Before I hang on the phone, the daughter said, thank you very much, Sir. I would certainly meet you there before the scheduled time today. Daughter disconnected the phone. I disconnected after she did, to observe whether, now also, she does things in jerk, hurried manner or still maintained the habit of handling objects softly. She softly disconnected.
I finished my dusting activity, needed some more time today to finish than usual. I was slow today, perhaps getting absorbed on the thoughts of my chain of talks, my hands were moving to do the usual dusting work but the mind was completely away, on the thought of my daughter, whom I have not seen a year and two days, to be exact. In the subconscious mind, I might have polished the trophies, daughter received in so many sports events, recitation, extempore events. On eventless days I do general dusting, not polishing. Finishing the dusting, I took my shower and opened the cupboard. I did not wear this blue shirt for long and therefore, had to iron it fresh. I got ready well on time and set for the park. I queued at the counter to buy two toy train tickets.
Somiya started walking straight to the ticket counter and saw a man wearing a deep blue shirt. The man was facing the counter and could not see her coming. Somiya, told herself, the colour of the shirt is the same she gifted to her father on her way home after getting her first salary, therefore the very known color caught her eyes first. When she reached near the counter, the blue shirt man was receiving the change from the counter. The man turned and made eye contact with her directly.
Yes, it’s me your customer for the credit card. Somiya hugged dad instantly.
I took her on my chest and looked up, adjusted my spectacle, got misplaced on the impact of her hug. As usual, she is hard on me. I wanted to feel her, stayed statue for a couple of minutes when the toy train whistled to inform it’s arrival to the station. I said let’s board my princess.
Being Monday, the toy train was near empty, we sat at the last bogie, last seat, no one in that bogie. I said, first of all, I am your Customer and let’s talk business first. Though I am not a person to live in credit, I sometimes feel it’s a need, especially when the network of my bank debit card is taken for maintenance or when do I forget it’s PIN upon repeated change of the code. Tell me what formalities I would have to do. Daughter said, I would do rest of all, forwarding a paper from her bag; just sign at these two locations. I have copy of your photo and other documents. I signed and the formalities were over before the wheel of the train even started rolling.
I was eager to know how she was, whether the husband kept her better than I nurtured. I could not keep my anxiety longer, asked, how are things with your husband? Suman has kept me well, Pappa. He loves me very much. He helps me in all aspects of daily life. I have got all that an adult girl expects. I am happy Pappa. She paused. I got jealous but got assured that she is happy. I had anger and carried my anger for several months after she left home for this man of hers. My ego was hurt immensely because, I, all along thought my daughter is my property and I would handle her, control her and also pack and hand over her to my known bride. I did not ask the daughter why she had to leave home to marry her choice. By now, my anger had died down and I no longer could afford to lose contact that had been established today, in a fluke.
Reading my thought, the daughter asked. Pappa, you must be thinking about why I left home and you for this man of my choice. Yeah Pappa, I could not afford to lose Suman’s love, he really loves me. I knew I would get you back sooner but I would never, perhaps, get a man like Suman. I knew I would get back your love on my first union. I do know, very well, you are hurt from the very one who you have given all, given eyes to see, hand to work, knowledge and education to stand up in life. I am yours Pappa, fully yours, but I needed a husband and incidentally I got to choose one in Suman. I can’t compare degree of love and affection I receive, but God made me your daughter, God again coupled me to Suman. I was desperate then, to not lose Suman in any circumstances. But I need both of you.
The train was passing near the children's play area of the garden, a group of children playing there and chirping. I brought you in this garden many times my angel; do you remember, you wanted to play until all other children left and you continued alone, still making a sand castle. I used to sit in that blue bench, always keeping eyes on your movement like an army radar. At every few minutes’ interval, I also used to check if you are still there sitting, I never feared as long as you could be seen, Pappa.
Pappa, I would take you to my home today, daughter proposed with conviction. Yes my dear, I would, but I wish to spend this night with you. I would take you to our house after visiting your house. I have so many things to tell you, I have to tell you my life in past one year, the sorrows, the emptiness. I do need to vent out and delete all the prejudice I created in my subconscious mind. I am a human being, built with emotion, expect care, need someone near and dear one to talk to and receive advice.
The train was passing by the duck’s pool. The ducks were quacking in unison to tell each other it’s dark already and let’s go inside the cage to be safe. Everyone was saying, perhaps, “I’m already in”, those who were outside, “almost in”. Pappa, do you remember, once we were passing near this cage and when the train made a whistle, all of the ducks started quacking together at high pitch, as if the whistle distorted their rhythm of two-foot steps, one time tail waving followed by one quack call and repeat. I was in school then, isn’t it Pappa?
Why didn’t you attempt to contact me earlier? One year is a pretty long phone call waiting time for a father from a daughter. Suman insisted me several times to call you, in fact, he dialed you a couple of times, I prevented before the last digit was pressed; I was, instead, waiting for a call from you Pappa. I was testing you on how long can you stay without calling me. I was of the opinion that I have the license to go away from you at my will, but you have the responsibility to catch hold of me, if lost, find me out; for you towards me, blood is thicker than water. I did not earn the license by way of taking you into confidence, but I believe it is my birthright, being the daughter of a father. Daughter paused, staring at the banyan tree top, the monkeys jumping out there.
Absence made my heart grew fonder. I did not want to spoil this meeting anymore by awkward arguments. During past one year I have realised that I’m not fit to understand this bold, care free so called generation ‘Y’ or atleast my daughter. I consoled myself, familiarity breeds contempt. I argued to myself, this generation can convince a reluctant credit card user, but cannot spend time and energy to convince a father to agree on most important decisions in life. This generation knows and believe that magnet would inevitably attract an iron object and bring it closer, but iron would remain carefree, stay afloat at it’s position. I stood behind swing for hours together in park to push, I pushed her from behind on her learning of bicycle, I pushed her jump to swimming pull to learn swimming, I pushed her stay awake to practice before recitation, extempore competition. Once my ego waned, I have learned that it’s a Father duty. I can only tell myself my story of bringing up my daughter with such hard work, but who would listen, all father do it and should do; it’s a father’s eternal duty. Today, I accept, I had false ego. I broke the silence, the monkeys on the banyan tree are choosing their place for resting the night. The leader of the gang would take the top most branch, followed by hierarchical positions they held in the group. It’s similar to the position you have taken in me Pappa. You are at the top holding a huge umbrella over my head.
Pappa, after all, it’s me who called you first, right; even though it was an automated computer call. I laughed, daughter joined. She leaned her head on my shoulder. Silence prevailed, until the train covered the remaining part of the journey, slowed down to stop at the originating station. I stretched my hand from her back to lay over on her forehead. I sensed her weeping. I took out my handkerchief, wiped her. She said, Pappa, I’m just sorry! I said, let’s go to your home.