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Venkatesh and his daughter Durga were packing their bags for their trip. Venkatesh went to his wife's room in the middle of packing the bags. He was trying one last time to ask her to come with them for the trip. She was not ready to come. Venkatesh knows, if Durga asks her mother to come with them, she will come. But Durga and Sri are not in talking terms for a week now. They finished packing and started to step out of the home. The driver was waiting to pick the bags. On any other day, Venkatesh will drive himself to any place. Today he picked a driver to accompany him as he wanted to go to many places.
The car started to move out of the parking, and the mother was watching the leaving car from the window of her bedroom. A few minutes into the trip, Durga asked her father where they are heading. Venkatesh told her, I am taking you to where I grew up. I want you to know my childhood and the people in it. You as a kid always used to ask me about my aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Today, I found a chance to take you to meet them. Durga was happy to hear that. But she remembered something, her mother always wanted to visit these places with her father. But, Durga today is angry with her mother and happy that her mom is not with them on the trip.
A few hours into the trip the travel took them to smaller towns. Durga started to get bored as the mobile network started to flicker. Durga asked her Dad where are they heading first and who are they going to meet. Venkatesh told her they are going to meet his uncle. Durga asked her Dad to share some childhood stories of his uncle, to pass some time.
Venkatesh started to tell childhood stories of his uncle. As you know, my Dad was a busy man in my childhood. My uncle, on the other hand, had time in hand as he has a private practice. Anything we want, we used to run to my uncle. He used to take us everywhere. Every moment with him was a learning moment. The way he treats people, the way he handles tough situations every day is a lesson. This guy came one day into his office and directly asked how much my uncle charges. This guy had no courtesy to introduce himself, his work, or anything. My uncle felt disrespected. He quoted a very exorbitant price. He never came back to his office hearing this. I learnt how to put people in their place. My uncle always had this thing to tell me, if you don't get educated you are nothing. Believe me when I say he had money, fame, and everything he wanted but he believed he should have educated himself more. I learnt to respect everyone, no matter what their position is. My first bike ride, the first car ride, everything is courtesy him. He went to lengths to make me happy. I never will forget the time he took me to every shop in the city to buy me something I wanted, a suit. Before Venkatesh could finish his stories, they reached their destination.
The security man at the door asked Venkatesh who he wanted to meet. Venkatesh is little hesitant to give the message of his arrival through a security man. However, that is the rule of the building. Venkatesh was about to give his name when he saw his uncle coming out. He went forward to meet him, but his uncle was not forthcoming. He just said a courtesy hai. He told Venkatesh he is in a hurry and doesn't know when he will be back and left. Durga was surprised, Venkatesh was not.
Venkatesh got back into the car and asked the driver to head to their next stop. Durga had no words but an enquiring expression towards her Dad. Venkatesh knew what Durga wants to know. He started to tell her what happened. My uncle is angry with me. When I wanted to marry your mother he did not approve, none of our parents approved for that matter. But being young blood I accidentally used a bad word against him. He never forgave me for that. Durga felt silly, considering that was almost 20 years ago. She was a little tired and she slept for a while. Hundreds of thoughts were going on in the mind of Venkatesh about his next destination.
Their next destination is not far and they reached there in a quick time. Durga woke up just before reaching there. The car was stopping at the door, the aunt who was out at the door has seen Venkatesh. She was ecstatic to see him. She almost ran to the car and dragged Venkatesh inside. She saw Durga stepping out. She planted an innumerable number of kisses on Durga's cheek. She could not believe the love she is getting from the aunt. More surprises await Durga and Venkatesh. Grandmother of Venkatesh had more love in store for them. Her face lit up, like a thousand-candle light. She was hugging and kissing both Durga and Venkatesh. After freshening up, Venkatesh told Durga they are staying the night there.
The dinner was even more fun and love-filled occasion. The grandmother was telling Durga, how her Dad was the naughtiest one. How he used to break his head playing or have a fight with neighbourhood kids. Venkatesh wanted to change the topic quickly. He started to tell the stories of his maternal uncle and how he used to pamper Venkatesh. He told Durga, my uncle used to give me money every time he visits us. He taught me so many things. We used to work hours together to get something done. We spent overnights in his shop. He believed in me so much that he let me run his shop at a very young age by myself. He had his problems with money but he had this bright smile. There were many disappointing days we both had together. There were times when officers did not pay what they owed and made us wait. But, his smile was never to be lost. He always found a way to go one more day. He also taught me how to live a life with limited means. We travelled in lorries, rode a bicycle to faraway places to save some bucks. Durga asked Venkatesh where is his uncle is now. What she did not notice was the photo of his uncle on the wall behind a garland. There was absolute silence after that.
The next morning they were ready to leave from that place. There were lots of sweets packed for Durga and many more kisses before she got into the car. They got in and the car and started. They kept looking back in the direction of the house. The women did not leave to go into the house, they kept waving in the direction of the car. After the car took a turn and they could not see the house any more Durga asked what happened to Venkatesh's maternal uncle. Venkatesh told her how his uncle had a serious health condition and passed away after a prolonged illness. Durga then asked Venkatesh why he brought her here particularly. Venkatesh started to tell her why. Durga, I always admired my uncle very much. I got a good job started earning and forgot all about my uncle. I was living my life with mother and you. One day, I came to know my uncle was not feeling well. I wanted to visit him immediately. But something came up that week. Same happened the next week, next week. Before I could realize, it was years. One day I got a call that my uncle passed away. That day, I was so sad that I could not forgive myself for not visiting my uncle all this time. That day I decided I will try to meet my aunt and maternal grandmother more often and spend time in my uncle's memories.
Durga understood very little of why her father was so emotional. You cannot blame her, she is only in her teens. Durga asked her father where they are heading next. Venkatesh told her they are going to their grandfather's house. Durga has met her grandfather many times before. All the time before this, she met them when they visited them at their house or when they all decided to go on a trip. This is one of the few times she is going to meet them in the childhood home of her father. The journey to his hometown takes about 10 hours. Durga decided to sleep through the journey. Venkatesh took the wheel to give the driver a break.
On reaching home, the grandparents were elated to see Venkatesh and Durga. After the initial pleasantries, the grandmother started to enquire Durga about her mother. That was the first time in the trip, Durga felt a little guilty for not inviting her mother on the trip. She told something to change the topic. Grandparents were not new by any measure to Durga. Durga had very frequent video calls and chatted for long hours with her grandmother. Durga felt home right away. Durga kept chatting about the trip, what all they visited. Grandmother was listening and also preparing food for lunch. The grandfather and Venkatesh were busy chatting in a different part of the house.
Durga noticed every few hours or so her grandfather stepping out of the house. She asked her father where is he going. Venkatesh tells her he goes out to smoke. She was surprised to hear that. Venkatesh continuing, told Durga, for many, many years he stopped smoking. Durga asked, then why did he start again? Well, I feel I am the reason. He did not like that I wanted to marry your mother. He got angry. He is generally a calm person, he suppresses his anger many a time. He picked up a cigarette again. Durga could not believe. Of course, he accepted our marriage after that and he respects your mother now. But I feel very guilty. He keeps telling me because he is retired and bored so he steps out for a smoke. But I don't know anymore. The conversation was finishing when the grandmother called everyone to come for lunch. They had a hearty meal and some sweets too. The grandmother and granddaughter then decided to go on a shopping spree. The time flew by and the day to head back home as come.
Sunday afternoon the father and daughter started back home. Durga's bags were full and she had no space left to put the latest pack of sweets she got from her grandfather. Venkatesh picked it and put in the glove box and they started home. The drive was going smooth and the driver is doing a good time. They will reach home in a few hours. Venkatesh wanted to talk to Durga. He took the phone in Durga's hand out and told her he wants to speak to her. She asked him about what?
There is a reason why I wanted you to visit these places with me. Every place I took you I had some guilt that I could not get rid of, did you notice. I want to get rid of this guilt. I want to say Sorry. But I don't have a chance today. I cannot say sorry to my uncle, he is not ready to even listen or forgive. I lost him forever. I want to say sorry to my maternal uncle. But he is no longer alive to listen to me. I want to say sorry to my father, not for anything I did wrong. But I could have handled things differently. Today if I get some strength and tell him sorry, he will not know why. Durga understood where his father was going with this. Venkatesh continuing, you fought with mother for a very silly thing. If she is wrong she immediately comes running to you to say sorry. You are adamant and stopped talking to her for weeks. Today you might feel good, but the day will come when you will feel very bad. That day you might not have a chance to fix things. The guilt that you have to go through, because of this, is unbearable.
They reached home and Durga ran to her mom. She saw her mom and hugged and started crying and saying sorry profusely. The mom too started crying. She too said sorry to her daughter for being tough on her and planted hundreds of kisses.