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It was a dark stormy night. The window panes creaked with the heavy wind. I tried to get some sleep. The squeaking noise continued. Was there an intruder inside? Suddenly, I woke up to the loud thumping. I was very scared. Looking around with half-open eyes, I scanned the room to check if everything was normal. Something told me that there was someone looking at me. I tried my best to strain my eyes in the dark. Who would it be at this hour? Lightning struck & I saw my father standing tall & strong looking at me. Was it a dream? Is he back? He was dead 8 years ago yet he was standing there. Is this a reality? Oh God! Have you answered all my prayers?

'How are you my dear?' he asked me in that usual authoritative yet caring voice.

I couldn't believe my eyes. 'I am kind of f-fine. Wh-What are you doing here? When did you come back?' I struggled to ask with a tremble in my voice.

'I just thought of dropping by to check on you.' He said casually.

'Dad, I have missed you a lot all these years. Why didn't you come earlier?'

On a cold Sunday morning, my dad had suffered a massive attack during one of his lectures at the yoga class. He collapsed & breathed his last. I was alone with mom & had no time to cry then. The rituals were performed in the days that followed & my family had disbursed & continued with their lives. It had been a difficult phase then. I had to stand firm with my mom.

'I had to leave for a reason, child. Else how would you grow into the strong woman that you are today? I have been watching you for a while now. You are no longer the same old timid girl, who was used to living a cozy life.' He told me with a bright radiance on his face.

I listened to him with surprise. I couldn't understand anything of what was going on.

'Everything will be fine.' He assured me.

I looked at him with disbelief.

The dazzling sunshine broke the spell. My eyes were wide open. Where was I? I tried hard to remember. But the only thing I could recall was to have a chat with my dad who had passed away eight years ago. What was wrong with me? How could I have a chat with him now? Was it a joke or a dream? If only someone could help me clarify.

The storm had passed & it was a bright & sun-filled morning. I got out of my bed & found the door shut, locked & secured. Why did I feel that I had talked to my dad, who was no longer with us? Or did I dream about him? He looked so real!

The tea boiled while the incidents of the past decade mulled over in my mind.

How much I had missed him then! I sipped my tea. I always wanted him to be back to handle the mess & straighten our lives. Slowly his words rang a bell in my head. I was a different person now. He was right.

I had changed. His death had taken a toll on all of us. My mother was shattered. I was too shocked initially but had taken over the responsibility of my mother. I helped her to get back to leading a normal life. I had managed to complete my education while I worked. While I organized my life, I also took care of my own house, I visited mom over weekends to be with her. We had developed a bond between us like never before.

I smiled as I reflected over the storm of events in the last decade that had gone by. There had been difficult phases with no one for help to count on, with medical & financial crisis at home. I had stood by mom no matter what. We faced the difficult times together. Would I have undergone a change if things were the same? Smiling at the mirror, I thought I am in love with the 'new me'! Thank you Dad! The storm had passed by in the real sense!

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