I was born with a desperate need for parental affection. My father had some chronic diseases and left for heavenly abode just one month before I was born.
Life has always been tough for my widowed, yet beautiful mom there after. While setting up my life, she chose to live far away from our in-laws and have been a teacher in primary school since then. Her life has witnessed a transition from upper middle-class status in her childhood days to lower middle-class post marriage to being poor now. Probably she is one of the most ill-fated ladies I have ever seen in my life. While negotiating with life, she has almost forgotten to take care of herself.
All the days I have lived so far are just below average except for my birthdays. Mom has been spending almost a month’s salary on all my birthdays. I fail to understand the logic of a poor family spending so much money on a strange birthday celebration. Mom and me visit nearby Ram Vilas blind school, donate some money to Mr Rajiv Khatri, owner of the school and return back home with some sweets purchased for me. I have always thought of asking Mom the reason behind a poor family spending so much on a single day, however Mom’s strict and limited communication with me always drawn that barrier not to investigate further.
-It might be possible to have Mom is having affair with Rajiv, who is good looking and would be perfect match for Mom, had she not been a married lady.
-It might also be possible for over enthusiastic God believer mom to collect blessings in exchange of donations, with a hope to have better future.
I always ask these questions on my birthdays.
Today is my seventeenth birth. Mom is bed ridden for last two days and running high fever. Rental increase by landlord in last few months has cut down our savings big time. I am not sure whether I can join some good college due to our family condition.
'Amar. Wake up baby. ' Mom utters with an effortful voice.
'Let me sleep for sometime' – I try to curdle under half-torn bed-sheet.
'Don’t you know what day is it today?'
'What day Mom?'
'It’s 11th Jul. Happy Birthday Amar.'
I wake up from my bed as if I have seen ghost. I have a feeling that today will be first exception day, when Mom won’t ask me to visit that idiotic Rajiv - We don’t have money and Mom is sick.
'Get ready soon, else Ram Vilas school will be closed. I cannot go today and you will have to go there alone.'
Reference to Ram Vilas schools has been the worst statements I have been hearing on my birthday for last so many years. I am terribly agitated, but choose not to speak out anything. Mom has maintained our relationships so much disciplined, I barely challenge her decisions.
'Ok. Give me 30 min, I will be ready.'
-Today I will be bring a closure to this birthday celebrations at Ram Vilas blind school – I keep talking to myself.
-I will discover what is this suspense about. If I get any hint of Mom’s affair with Rajiv, I will kill that bastard. He must have seduced my Mom or blackmailed her.
I reach Ram Vilas blind school at 9am sharp. My body language has been different today. Prejudiced thought of saving money for my family has multi-folded my happiness. I am getting a vibration of celebrating my birthday on my own for the first time and return some money back to my Mom.
'Come Amar' – Rajiv greets warmly.
-People get so welcoming just to amass free money– I keep telling myself.
'Rajiv uncle, today I want to get an answer from you before I handover money to you.' – I take a pause and continue - 'Who are you? Why do I come to blind school despite we, being poor and not in a position to donate anyone? Most important question- do you have any affair with my Mom? If yes, for how many years you have been dating? Am I your child? If not, how am I related to you?'
Rajiv takes a deep breath, turns back. He drinks a full glass of water and returns back to me.
'I had promised someone not to tell you the truth. However, sometimes hiding bitter facts are more painful than revealing it. I think it is time to bring the facts out. I will tell you a story, which will clarify all your confusions' – He continues.
Some 30 years back
Kedar and Kasturi were not just friends, they were made for each other. They loved each so much that their friends used to tease them as ‘one soul in two bodies’. They spent time with each other as if there were no tomorrow- even they bunked exam to be with each other’s company. Life was smooth until they start thinking of leading their life as partners – a caring husband and beautiful wife.
But destiny had written something else for them. Kedar got diagnosed with cancer. Kasturi cried for almost two days non-stop after Kedar disclosed the news to her.
Kedar discarded the marriage plans and insisted Kasturi to live a life with someone else. But she was Kasturi- A lady with desire to get her man at any cost. More importantly Kedar was the only man she had loved till that date and he was the only man she could think of loving the rest of her life.
Determined mind always gets the desire fulfilled.
Finally Kasturi found out a renowned surgeon, who had cured patients with similar disease. After 1 year of sleepless nights, Kasturi managed to give a new life to Kedar. After waiting for couple of years to confirm the non-appearance of cancer symptoms, finally they got married. The class difference between their families could not marginalize their love for each other. They set examples par excellence. It seemed as if God has given special touch while creating these two entities.
Four years passed in the blink of an eye.
One day while working in his office, Kedar fell from the chair and broke his legs. Surprised by the resistance of his legs to minor incidents, he consulted doctor. Man proposes and god disposes – destiny had written something else for him. The cancer had reappeared and doctor announced that he could live maximum for six months.
Kedar came back from office.
Pressed the doorbell.
Kasturi opened the door- all excitement on her face.
'I will share a good news with you. Your much-cherished dream has come true. You are becoming father. Just 8 months left before you could hold your baby on your palms and fix your eyes on it.'
Kedar was speechless. He burst into crying like never before. In fact both of them cried that night like never before and slept empty stomach.
Next morning Kedar woke up early- both still holding each other’s hands, lying on the sofa.
'Kasturi, would you keep one promise for me?'
'What promise? You have broken all your promises. You had promised to lead a life with me, you had promised to hold our baby. We have been waiting for our child for last four years.' – Kasturi started crying again.
'Please for the last time, wont you keep my promise?'
'What is that?' Kasturi asked while still crying.
'Please put your hand on my head that you will keep this promise.' Kedar ensures a promise from Kasturi.
‘I have one last wish. I want to see my child. In fact I would like to see my baby every year on his or her birthday and make myself complete. Would you keep this last wish?' – Kedar’s voice lowered this time.
'I want to donate my eyes to a blind person. Every year on our baby’s birthday, you take our baby to him. I will be living in his eyes to see our baby progressing.
Can you do this last favor to me?'
Both of them burst into crying.
'I guess you know who Kedar and Kasturi are? They are none other than your parents. And I am that fortunate child who got your fathers’ eyes. And remember, every year you don’t come here, because I have an affair with your mom, rather we all try to fulfill that the last wish of your loving father.' – Rajiv finishes his story.
There is a big silence. I no more can look through the eyes of Rajiv.
I hand over the money to him, still searching for my father in his eyes. I can not believe I doubted my mother. Though the burden of guilt is trying to take control of me, but satisfaction of proud child of a very lovable father has been more powerful to take my steps forward. Probably I have received the best gift of my life on my seventeenth birthday – my father.