Jaishree Laxmikant



Jaishree Laxmikant


The Promise Of Love

The Promise Of Love

10 mins

Nikhil’s hands were shivering as he held his little princess, for the first time. She was so tiny and so beautiful. Tears of joy had welled up in his eyes as he saw her because he realized how lucky he was to be having her. Her little eyes could not open fully because the light was too sharp for her. Her fingers were still in a fist and she was all curled up. Truly, a bundle of joy. He looked at her and realized how lucky both of them were. Simply because not every parent always has a child to cuddle to and not every child necessarily has a parent to comfort it. It is merely God's choice and gift, one to cherish, for a lifetime. He silently kissed Mahek’s forehead, for giving him this gift of a beautiful daughter.

Nikhil and Mahek had been married for five years now and finally, God had decided to bless them. Nikhil was an orphan, who had never witnessed the love of his parents. When Mahek had decided to get married to him, she had eloped with him, without the consent of her parents. His childhood was a lonely struggle for survival, but his marriage had turned his life around and Mahek had filled his life with her companionship and love. They had met in college and over a period of time, fallen in love and got married. Now Nikhil’s life was complete with the entry of Ruhani, his princess.

Nikhil had studied in night schools and managed to get scholarships to complete his education. He was a B. com graduate, with accountancy as his key subject. Though he didn’t have the formal degrees, he had sharp acumen and was gradually climbing the ladders of success. Ruhani had brought in all the good luck that was required for Nikhil. Coming back to her and playing with her after a hard day at work, was magical for him. It was as if the world was at his feet when he was playing with his angel. As time flew by, Ruhani started growing up and Nikhil started getting busier with work but never did Ruhani take a back seat in his life.

Ruhani was a papa’s girl in every way. She would want only Nikhil to be around her whenever he was there. She would be waiting for him to come back from work and would hug and cling to him as if he had returned from an overseas travel. Whenever Nikhil was present, Mahek would be nonexistent for Ruhani, whether it was taking her to school, going to the park on holidays, helping her do the homework, feed her or put her to sleep. She would feel as if she was being escorted by some celebrity when he went to the school and to the park with her. Sometimes Nikhil would be terribly tired from a hard day’s work but one hug from his darling angel and all the tiredness would be gone away.

If and when Ruhani would be unwell, Nikhil would get paranoid whereas Mahek would just be cool and treat her with the required medicines. Nikhil would dread those pediatrician appointments where Ruhani was due for a vaccination and Mahek would actually laugh about it. But that was his love for his angel, he just could not bear anything wrong happening to her. Every year of school holidays would mean new adventures for their family. A new place every year, but ample time spent in each other’s company. Ruhani would never want those holidays to end because that was the time when her dad used to be with her the whole day, whether it was lazing around in the pools or reading out stories or going shopping, it was always dad time. No amount of luxury of the world would have been equal to that and she would not have exchanged her dad’s time for anything in the world. Her Dad was her world and Ruhani was Nikhil’s world.

Gradually his little princess grew up to be a beautiful teenager. She was a topper in her college in academics and the badminton champion too. There was never a single match that Ruhani had played and Nikhil had not watched. Ruhani had gone to play the state championship as well. Though she had not achieved any victory there, it was still a matter of pride for her dad. Nikhil didn’t want to leave any stone unturned for her sports endeavors too. But those coaching classes were another hateful thing for Nikhil because according to him, the coach made his angel do a lot of hard work and he couldn’t bear to see her do all that. Finally, Mahek had to take over and stop Nikhil from going to the coaching classes with Ruhani. Otherwise probably Nikhil would have stopped her badminton coaching all over and she would never have been the champion that she was.

Ruhani was an intelligent and beautiful girl and there were many boys in her college who had tried to be overly friendly with her. But she had such high standards of a life partner set by her dad that she just could not get herself to be special to any one person. There was no one who could make her forget her dad and love him more than her dad. Mahek would also often wonder if Ruhani would ever be able to break off the bond from her dad to get married and go to someone else’s house and even if she did, what would be Nikhil’s state.

Eventually, Ruhani got married to Advait. On the day of the marriage, before the rituals were to begin, Nikhil walked up to Ruhani, gave her a kiss on her forehead, something he would do whenever he was to say something important or difficult and said “Thank you beta’. When Ruhani asked him the reason, he said ‘There are many fathers who have daughters but don’t get the chance to be with them on the most important day of their lives because of various reasons and then there are fathers who don’t have any daughters to feel proud about, I have a daughter and I have the joy of witnessing her marriage, that is the true desire of every father. So Thanks for making me do this’. Ruhani’s eyes welled up with tears.

Advait was a wonderful human being and Ruhani was extremely happy with him. In due course of time, Navya was born. In the initial days of the marriage, Nikhil would call her twice a day to check out how she was doing, pay her a visit every 2-3 days, as they lived in the same town. But gradually when he realized that Ruhani had settled down well in her married life, she had withdrawn a bit. He missed his angel a lot and would keep going through their old pictures and videos of all the happy times they had together. Mahek had kept herself busy by involving herself in charity, visiting old age homes, cancer hospitals, orphanages and so on. But Nikhil’s world had always revolved around Ruhani and he had not had too many friends. So now he had taken up to reading.

But Ruhani had noticed that off late, Nikhil had started becoming very anxious and forgetful. If Ruhani would be late in reaching home to meet him, he would just snap at her, something he had never ever done before. He had started becoming reticent, had started to falter very often while speaking and when he would speak, most of the time he would keep repeating stuff. More particularly dinnertime with him would often be troublesome. Finally, Ruhani got him checked up and Nikhil was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Since he had started becoming forgetful, he had started addressing Navya as Ruhani and would talk to her as if he was talking to Ruhani. Sometimes he would ask her about her practice sessions but at other times, he would stare at the screen blankly while watching an actual badminton match, showing absolutely no interest. He needed assistance for simple things like brushing his teeth and eating his food. An attendant had to be with him round the clock because he could never be left alone. There were times when he would be wide awake the whole night and he would just shout at people for no reason. It was traumatic for Ruhani to see her darling dad suffer this much. She missed his hugs and his lovely chatter. How many innumerable times in her life had she hugged him and cried to him. He would just stroke her hair, pat her back, say some soothing words and she would be back to her normal self again. But now her dad didn’t even recognize her. She longed to be hugged by her dad and be spoken to again. But she would just stand beside him helplessly and watch him deteriorate. 

Many times she would stand in the balcony and recall what her dad used to say often. He would say ‘though the sky is full of stars, each star is separate and shines on its own. We are also as lonely as a star. Family, friends, siblings, spouse, etc are like the other stars of the sky. They are there to lighten up the sky but the light for our path is within us. Without the light on our path, an illuminated sky would be of no meaning. Search within for your own light and for your own strength.’ She was trying to derive strength to face her dad go through this illness, to be able to do something for him. But her strength had always been her dad.

For the past couple of months, Ruhani had decided to stay over with Nikhil and Mahek, because sometimes Nikhil would get a little unmanageable during the nights. One night before going to sleep, Nikhil called out to Ruhani and she was thrilled that after a period of two years, her dad had addressed her, not Navya as Ruhani. He just hugged her, held her for a few minutes, kissed her on her forehead, like old times and said goodnight. For Ruhani, It was almost as if her old dad was back with her. She had a great sense of relief that night. The next morning when she got up to see her dad, she realized that he was gone, forever. He had died in his sleep.

Ruhani was shattered. She could not quite come out of this shock. She could never imagine a life without her dad. For days together, she would suddenly start crying, thinking of her dad. Even when she was at work, she could not concentrate much. Even at the age of 45, being a mother of a 15-year-old, she could not come to terms with the loss of her dad. She had forgotten to smile; she had a worn-out look on her face, she would do all her chores in a much-automated way and it seemed life had become a burden for her. Navya and Advait tried their best; in their individual ways to help her come out of this trauma but nothing was helping her. It felt as if the shock was eating her away. Even Mahek had come to terms with Nikhil’s death but Ruhani still looked distant to everyone around her.

After some weeks of Nikhil’s death, Ruhani had resorted to taking sleeping pills every night. But that day, due to some chaos in the house, she had forgotten the pills and had gone to bed without them. She was just tossing and turning throughout the night and in the wee hours of the morning, she had started to sleep. Suddenly she woke up with a start; she was perspiring throughout and didn’t understand what was going on. After having a glass of water, she realized that it was all a dream. Her beloved dad was in her dream; he kissed her forehead and said, ‘Why do you grieve for me so much when I am right here with you? He hugged her, stroked her hair and held her for a few moments and then got up and went. This was a moment of realization for Ruhani; she realized that her dad would always be with her, no matter what. Slowly she started becoming her normal self again. But the one thing that she had started to do every night was, to go to the balcony and wish Goodnight to the stars above her. She believed that her dad had become an angel in heaven and these stars would carry her goodnight wish to him.

By getting Ruhani back to her normal self again, Nikhil had fulfilled his promise, even in his death. The promise that he made to himself when he had held Ruhani for the first time, the promise to cherish her and protect her no matter what. The promise to love her forever and ever.

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