My Little Mentor
My Little Mentor
After just a month of my marriage, I had to go to Daman for an official trip. My wife escorted me to the Delhi railway station and told me that she would be waiting for me. I reached Daman and completed my official work, and after a few days I started on my way back to Delhi. On the way back I saw a person selling huge teddy bears, and so I bought one. The teddy bear was so big that it occupied almost the entire berth, and I had to sit next to it for the whole journey. It seemed as if I had bought the ticket for it and not for myself! When I reached the Delhi railway station I was expecting my wife to be there, but I saw my mother waiting for me instead. When I asked about my wife she smiled and told me that I was going to become a father.
We reached back home, where my wife was waiting for me at the door. I hugged her and told her that I was very happy. I took her to a nearby resort in the evening, where a kite-flying festival was being held. I told my wife to hold the thread so that I could fly the kite. She was not able to hold the thread, so I was not able to fly the kite. I went up to her and told her that if I were blessed with a baby boy I would come to the same resort again and fly a kite.
The atmosphere of our house had completely changed, and everybody was busy fussing over my wife. My father advised me to take good care of my wife. When I asked him if he wanted a baby boy or a baby girl, he replied that it did not matter to him as long as the child was healthy.
Days and weeks passed by, and my wife’s due date came nearer. According to our family tradition the first child should be born at the girl’s parents’ house. So after a small ceremony my wife went back to her parents’ house. My mother and father used to call my wife no less than three times a day and ask her about her health. I too went a number of times to meet my wife. As the due date approached, we all were dying of anxiety, especially my father. One day I got a call from my in-laws’ house, informing me that my wife had been taken to the hospital, where she was expected to give birth any time. I told my parents to be ready, as the good news could any time now. And after a few hours, when I was sitting in a meeting, a call came and I was told that I had become a proud father. This was the happiest moment in my life. I told my colleagues about the news and walked out of the meeting.
I called up my parents and gave them the news, and they congratulated me with all their heart. They asked me about the health of the child and its mother. The next question was whether it was a boy or a girl. I didn’t have a reply, as because of the excitement I had forgotten to ask if my wife had given birth to a boy or a girl! My father told me that I need to act mature now, as I had become a father. Later we went to the hospital to see the child and my wife.
We entered the room, and I saw a child wrapped in cloth lying next to my wife. I walked up to them and asked my wife if the child was a boy or a girl. She replied that it was a boy. I took him to my parents and proudly introduced them to my son. My parents took the child in their arms and blessed him. My father took a big sum of money from his pocket and told me to distribute it among some poor people. My parents sat next to us, and we all started talking about the child. My wife reminded me of the kite-flying festival and told me that now I could go back to the resort and fly a kite at the festival.
After forty days my parents went to my in-laws’ house to get my wife and child back to our house, while I stayed at the house, arranging and decorating the child’s room. As soon as I heard the car horn near the house I knew that my family had come, so I quickly ran out to greet them. My child was awake and started staring all around. My wife tried handing him over to me, but I refused to take him, as he was so small that I was afraid I might drop him.
In the beginning, he stayed awake in the night and slept during the day. My father would keep asking my wife when my son would talk, when he would start walking and the like. After a few months my father’s health started deteriorating, and he was diagnosed with cancer. When we took my father for the treatment he told the doctor that he wanted to live for some more time because he wanted to see his grandson grow. During his treatment he asked the doctor if his cancer was infectious and if he could play with his grandson. The doctor told him that he would get well soon and that everything would be fine.
My son had become my father’s toy, and my father got my son everything he wanted. The treatment was successful, and my father was well again. He got to see my child crawling, then walking and then talking. The first word my child said was ‘dada’, and my father was the happiest that he had been. Slowly they become really good friends, and they would sit with each other and talk for hours, and I never got to know what they discussed with each other. My father used to take him to the market and drop him to the school, and they used to go together everywhere.
My father would call my son Laadu, which means ‘darling’. My father loved my son so much that he got Laadu written on our new car. My father always told him that education is very important and scolded him only once when he refused to go to school. My son liked it when anyone called him by his nickname rather than his real name, which is Kunal. I could always feel the strength of the bond between my father and my son.
After a few years my father’s health again started deteriorating, and we had to take him to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed his condition as recurrence of cancer. We fought against the disease for almost one and a half years, but we couldn’t win, and I lost my father. To say that I was depressed does not explain my state at the time, as he was the only friend I had and the only person whom I could trust. I started consuming alcohol and slowly started becoming dependent on it.
One fine Sunday, my son was having a cold drink, while I was having whisky. He told me that I shouldn’t drink, and I replied that he should also not drink cold drinks because they are bad for health. He threw away his drink and asked me to do the same. I was ashamed at the fact that my child was willing to sacrifice so much for me. I also threw away my drink and hugged him tightly.
My son was becoming stronger day by day, and he would insist on staying awake at night and making sure that everything was all right whenever I would get late. He started spending more time with my mother and would comfort her if she felt lonely. One day I was late from the office, as I had gone to dinner with my friends. I came back home at midnight. When I came back to the house my son came out to open the door for me and smiled. When I asked him why he was still awake, he told me that his grandmother was not well, and his mother was taking care of his grandmother, so he was taking care of the house.
One Sunday I was sitting alone, and my son came to me. He asked me why I wasn’t happy. I told him that I was feeling lonely, and he replied that he knew that I was missing my father. He sat next to me and told me that we could be good friends. From then on, he started giving me company whenever he could and sharing his everyday experiences with me. In the evening, we would sit together and watch movies.
Once, my mother and my wife had gone out shopping, while I was at home, sitting with my son. He held my hand and told me that he wanted to become an oncologist, as he had lost his grandfather to cancer. He told me that I was his best friend and that he wanted me to support him. He told me that the entire family’s eyes were on me, as after his grandfather I was the one responsible for the family. I don’t know how he could think of it, but an eight-year-old boy telling his father what his responsibilities were was really surprising. My little angel had become my mentor. I suddenly understood my responsibilities towards my family, all because of my little mentor – my Laadu.