Papa I Am Sorry
Papa I Am Sorry9 mins 419 9 mins 419
Dr Nikita looked at her watch. It was only 8.30 PM, not very late. But she decided to quit the party. Tomorrow early morning, she had to help a senior surgeon for surgery and could not afford a late night out today. She took leave from her friends and getting into the lift came to the reception area. She wanted to book a taxi but found that there was no signal on her cell phone. She came out of the building and started walking the long path leading to the main road.
Her friend’s house, where she had come to the house warming party, was in a newly constructed tower. There were still many more towers which were under construction and were mushrooming inside the same compound. The site itself was quite at a distance from the main highway from where she could possibly take a taxi.
The lights in the area suddenly went off, maybe because of a power failure. The deserted road now became pitch dark. For a fraction of a second, she wondered whether she should go back and share a car for travel with someone at the party. But to walk back again, would be more difficult in that darkness. She took a deep breath and started walking fast. A few more minutes and she could reach the road. Adding to her vows it started raining heavily and she was totally drenched in a few minutes.
Breathing heavily she started walking. Suddenly she heard a car and the milky flooding headlight of a car coming in the front blinded her eyes. Shading her eyes with her hand she stepped on the side and waited for the car to cross her. But the car screeched to halt near her and the front door was thrown open.
A familiar cool voice said, “Get in Nikita” After one moment’s hesitation she got into the car. The car took a U-turn and started speeding on the highway. He said, “There is a towel on your seat. Dry yourself Nikita”. In that worst situation, where she was caught in a dark spot of an unknown area, any human being would have felt so relieved. But not Nikita!
She hissed through her clenched teeth, “So you were tailing me to see where I am going and when I am coming back? You are such a shameless ass and nothing affects you donkey skin” Vineet, driving the car said, “I was waiting just on the high way. Since all the lights went off, I came down to pick you up” Nikita muttered some more curses.
They reached home they found that the power failure was everywhere and the house was all dark. Vineet opened the door with his keys and as they entered they could see Surabhi sitting in the hall. Candles were lighted at all the corners of the house. Seeing them she got up and said, “Thank God, you both have come. I was worried when the power went off. Did you get drenched, Nikita? Go and change first” Nikita answered as she walked to her room, “I am fine Ma, I did not get wet”.
Surabhi followed her husband Vineet inside their bedroom. She said with concern, “You were compelled to wait for a long time for her. Is it not? But in this rain and power failure she would have got stranded but for you”.
Vineet smiled and said, “Surabhi, why are you worried unnecessarily. As long as I am there, Nikita will be always safe”. As he quietly went inside the washroom Surabhi stared at his back. Though Vineet did not say a single word, she knew very well that Nikita would have behaved rudely with him. She sighed deeply.
Before going to bed, as usual, Vineet took care to see that Surabhi took all her medicines. Later he went to bed and within seconds he was asleep. Surabhi tossed and turned in the bed but could not sleep. Years back she was hoping that with passing time Nikita would become mature. But her behaviour was turning from bad to worst and the way she insulted Vineet, hurt Surabhi deeply. But she was at a loss to know how to change her daughter’s heart overflowing with hatred for Vineet.
Fifteen years back when Nikita was just ten years old and her son Promod was eight, Surabhi’s first husband Sridhar died in an accident of a boiler explosion in the company. He and Vineet both worked in a Thermal power plant. Since the death of his dear friend, Vineet became the support for the family and that stage both her kids loved him. The office provided the family with rich compensation and Surabhi did not have financial difficulty. But she could not come out of the sorrow for her husband’s death. It was at this time that Vineet took charge of the family and provided moral support for all of them. He took care of both the children for their schooling and other activities.
As Vineet was spending so much time with the family the neighbours started gossiping. So after 2 years Vineet and Surabhi decided to marry. Since that day Vineet became the number one enemy of the 12-year-old Nikita. Not only did she refuse to accept him as a father but always insulted and humiliated him. For her, he was the one who had stolen her mother from her. Pramod, on the other hand, loved his father. Vineet’s high salary gave the family all the comforts and the children could attend the best school and college but Nikita never thought of all these benefits. Nikita had now finished her MBBS and was going for her master in Cardiology and Pramod was in his MBA class.
Vineet got up from sleep and found Surabhi was still awake. He got from his sofa, where he was sleeping, and coming to Surabhi asked, “Why are you still awake? Should I give you some tablet?” Without waiting for an answer he went to the Kitchen and came back with some warm milk. He handed the milk and a tablet to Surabhi. She quietly took the tablet. Vineet kept sitting near her until she fell asleep because of the tablet. He got up and went back to his sofa.
Two months rolled by without any change in Nikita’s attitude. That night Nikita was busy studying for her approaching examination. The time was 2.00 AM. Suddenly Surabhi came rushing inside her room and blabbered “Nikita, Nikita, come fast, Vineet is not well” She rushed back.
For once, the doctor inside Nikita took the better side and she rushed into her mother’s bedroom. Vineet lying on the narrow sofa was struggling to breathe and both his hands were holding his chest. Understanding the problem in a moment Nikita rushed back to her room and brought her medical kit. First, she placed two tablets under the tongue of Vineet and asked him to swallow it. Same time she took an injection syringe and injected Vineet. By four minutes Vineet calmed down and opening his eyes he tried to smile at Surabhi.
Pramod too had come down hearing the commotion. Nikita told her mother, “For the time being he is better. But we have to take him to a hospital immediately” She made a call for a cardiac ambulance and calling hospital instructed them to keep the bed ready for Vineet. Then she sat near Vineet and holding his hand said softly,” You are fine Vineet. Don’t worry. Once we go to Hospital you will feel better” It was only the doctor Nikita who was talking to her patient, and not Nikita to her stepfather. Surabhi stood silently watching too dazed to talk while Promod stood to wipe his tears.
It was one week since Vineet was admitted to hospital and had an angioplasty done for his blockage in his heart blood vessel. Though Surabhi was constantly at his bedside, Nikita made it a point to make a number of trips to see how he was progressing in spite of her tight hospital schedules.
That day evening Surabhi and Nikita were having coffee, in the hospital canteen. Nikita asked her mother, “Ma, I wanted to ask you one question. Why was Vineet sleeping in that narrow sofa that night?”
Surabhi looked at her daughter steadily for two seconds and said, “Because he had been sleeping only on that sofa right from the day we got married. Yes, for the past thirteen years to be exact”
Nikita was shell-shocked. She tried to say something but no words came out of her mouth. Surabhi continued. “You know Nikita that fateful day when your father met with the accident he was not supposed to be there near the boiler which burst. He had actually finished his shift and he was about to come home. Vineet was newly engaged at that time and on that day he wanted to go home early to meet his girlfriend. So he requested your father to manage his duty for a few hours and your father agreed. Then the accident happened. Thus Vineet felt morally responsible for your father's death.
He broke his engagement with the girl and took a pledge to look after our family. In the initial years after your father’s death, I was too sick and had to be in the hospital number of times. He managed the house and the hospital. As he had to stay with us until late into the night frequently, we two decided to marry to avoid any gossip. But Nikita, Vineet is still, the good friend of your father and is still suffering from his guilt” Nikita sat very still too shocked to talk.
After a week’s stay in the hospital, Vineet came back home. Nikita supported him to walk to the bedroom. She led him to the double bed and made him sit there. He looked around and was a little puzzled as the narrow sofa was missing from the room. As he tried to say something Nikita said, “Hereafter you should sleep comfortably and you will do so in this bed only. And remember this is a doctor’s order”
Vineet looked at her face and smiled mildly. Suddenly Nikita hugged him tight and started weeping. A shocked Vineet said, “Hey Nikita, what is this? Why are you crying?” She hugged him tighter now and in between her crying she said, “Please, Please forgive me, Papa, I am very, very sorry Papa, for all I did to you”
The word “Papa” filled the heart of Vineet and his eyes too started welling. As both father and daughter cried Surabhi and Pramod watched quietly afraid of breaking that bond of pure love.