“I am 23, for Heaven’s sake stop telling me how to live my life.” Ria slammed the door shut behind her.
My wife and I stood there, looking at the closed door horrified. I was suffering from cancer and had 50-50 chances as per doctors. Therefore, like a good father I wanted to settle down our little girl so that I could die in peace. She was a post graduate and wanted to look for job. My views were slightly different.
“I can’t believe I gave up my career, my hobbies everything to bring her up.” My wife was in tears.
“It’s for her good. She will get it someday, if not now.” I tried to console her or me.
“It’s better to be barren than having children like her.” After a while I just lost it.
My wife shushed me and supported me to the bedroom. I took my medicines and we went to bed, where both of us would lie awake in silence.
After an hour or so we heard footsteps.
“Mom.. Dad..?” Ria knocked
My wife sat up in bed without replying.
“Are you comfortable or would you like to sit?” Ria asked me, switching on the lights.
Not only did she help me sitting, also she put pillows on sides for support. Chemotherapy has drawn all the energy from my body. I noticed her eyes were slightly wet. If this is my little girl, than who was standing with us in living room.
“First thing, final decision will be yours. I will do whatever you want me to. But, please listen to my side of the story, before making a decision.” Ria began
“We are listening.” I said meekly
“You gave up your career and you don’t seem to be very happy about it. Then why do you want me to give up my chance of having a career?” Ria questioned
“You can have a career after marriage as well” My wife said
“You couldn’t continue yours after marriage and you are sure I will start one. Come on, who are you fooling? Plus, I want to be sure can take care of myself, before I have to take care of a family.”
“It was different then. Your mom got pregnant with you and there were complications, so she had to quit her job.” I replied
“And how do you know, it won’t happen to me?”
“We can just hope for the best”
“But, I want to be prepared for the worst as well. What if I end up in a bad marriage or my husband dies?”
“Why are you being pessimist?”
“I am just being realistic Mom. I don’t want to blame you, if things don’t work for me. I want to be capable of handling it. And I want to be thankful to you for making me strong enough.”
“You will understand when you have a child of your own. I can’t even die until you are settled”
“I would love it if me not being SETTLED gives you the courage to fight cancer and live a longer life.” She paused for a moment to control her tears, “Moreover, settled and married aren’t synonyms.”
“At least, I would know you have someone to take care of yourself.”
“Papa, you have made me strong enough to take care of myself. Please have faith in your upbringing. Mom Dad, you can’t plan a life for me, you can just prepare me for it. And believe me, you have prepared me well.”
This time none of us could answer. We just kept looking in her eyes, trying to search our little girl. Amidst her crawl, first step, school, board exams, college, graduation we never realized when she grew up.
“Please give me a chance. I will make you proud, I promise.” She pleaded.
“Well, you have a point.” I smiled as my wife said it.
“Oh! I love you both!” She jumped into our bed.
Today Ria is 31, confident, successful and madly in love with this colleague of hers, she is getting married to. She made us proud as she promised. I look at her as she fondly exchanges rings, immediately after which she looks back at me smiling. Yes, she is still my little girl.