Continued from Part-1 of the four part Mini Reading Series (MRS)– “The Unrequited Love Story of a Father & a Son.”
We were about to move into a house of our own. Everyone was brimming with vivacity and happiness. But, the excitement, energy and happiness of everyone else combined too were nothing compared to the elated state of Papa. It was his greatest dream coming alive, and the man himself got into motion.
He dedicated himself to carving out every inch of the house into a scintillating piece of beauty. The apartment’s interiors and the furniture were bought or customized according to his own taste. He built every bit of the house as if it was his own baby. He wanted it to have everything beautiful and best that could fit in his vision.
He would think of what a certain corner of the house should look like. Then he would wander the markets for weeks to search for things and tools that could make his vision into a visual spectacle.
While my Maa would often object citing the rising costs and lop-siding of the budget, but Papa would say, “After years of hardships, I am going to have a house of my own. So, who cares if I am over-spending? It is my first house and I’ll build it like a dream.” And, he realized his surreal dream. He gifted Maa and me the most beautiful home that neither of us could have otherwise envisioned.
The date was 13th of October 2013. It was our housewarming. The big dream that Maa and Papa had envisioned and nurtured for years was now coming alive. We were just hours away from permanently moving to an address of our own. We were all so elated.
Papa had invited everyone who had been there with him and Maa at tough phases when others left us forlorn. He wanted all of those worthy people to be a part of this big festival of our life. He had planned a grand celebration of two days for everyone.
Everyone was cladded in the best of their attires. The women wore their traditional Indian dresses like sarees and lehengas which made the entire aura shine and sparkle. Then there were the religious ceremonies, the party, get together and what not!
My father had one aim set in his eyes for the event. There were times when he needed someone. Mostly he was left alone with his wife. But, at certain instances, a few people did come up to offer a hand of help according to one’s abilities and capacities. And, he wanted to show them all that the love they purveyed into our lives played a very imperative role into actualizing such a beautiful phase of our life.
He was happy and wanted everyone else to be a part of this happiness and take some of it back home with them. And, he left no stone unturned to make it all happen. Finally once the celebration was over, slowly the guests and relatives began to return back to their lives. We also began to assimilate to the new society, neighbourhood and its ethos.
It was the first time that we were to live in a society with tall apartments, swimming pools, and steam and sauna chambers. Such things in our mindset were meant for the affluent classes. After all, we had grown from nothing to so much in a very short span of time. And, Papa made it all happen for us.
We would always be so excited to go to the pool and take a splash. Since Papa had a big paunch, he would also enthusiastically aim to hit the gym daily and run on the treadmill. Both of us, father and son would at times even go for the steam and sauna baths.
Oh! The experience was so surreal. Especially for newbies like us, it was much greater than just a dream coming alive. Because even in our dreams we had never envisioned such possibilities for ourselves. But, Papa did and that is why he actually made it all a reality.
Then came Diwali. He wanted to leave a long lasting imprint on every single person who was associated with the society in any manner. He didn’t care even if it was a security guard! Our block had about twenty-five guards securing the area. On Diwali, Papa bought them all new shoes.
And, he personally invited them all to our home. He would himself take out shoes of various sizes and make the guards try as many until they find one of their own size. He wished to make everyone around him to smile, and he would do everything in his gamut to make it possible.
And the same way came the New Year and then the festival of Holi. On both the occasions parties were held there at the society for every house to come along and celebrate the festivity in unison. There would be music, dance, lights and scrumptious food. But, everyone would be awestruck with Papa’s love for dance.
He would do the moves that others would feel shy to do. But, he would be so mesmerized into the festive aura that even others would get invited by his energy and join him to groove. He created variegated memories not just for himself, but everyone around him. He was a bundle of joy which was bound to explode and spread happy vibes and energy all around him.
And, that was how Papa was making every moment count at his new address. In his dream home, he was living life like a dream. But, happiness is always followed by sadness, all of us forgot. No one ever thought that something malevolent was inching closer while we were all busy smiling, laughing and celebrating our lives.
And, then on 21st of June 2014, he had to leave for a business tour. Maa and I drove Papa to half the distance to reach the railway station from where he took an auto rickshaw. We bid goodbyes to each other after having some jovial and some serious talks about my college admissions in the car. Then, Papa left and we returned home.
Maa and Papa would keep in touch with each other. Papa would always inform her whenever he would be travelling or checking into some hotels. Basically, Maa would know about Papa’s whereabouts almost every time.
On the night of 23rd June 2014 at 9:50 pm, they talked over the phone when Papa apprised Maa, that he was headed to have dinner now. Post that for some eccentric reason Maa could not go to sleep easily. She wasn’t feeling very comfortable. Something was unnerving her.
I told her it was nothing, and maybe the temperature was troubling her. So, I turned on the air conditioner and tried to put her to sleep. But, it was only after an hour or so that she shut her eyes.
Then we woke up the next morning. Maa was still tensed, but I could not figure out anything. I thought she must be puzzled into her household chores. I grabbed the newspaper and began to read. It was about 7:30 in the morning.
Time passed by but the tensions didn’t seem to efface from Maa’s face. She seemed worried and troubled. The clock ticked 9:00 am now. Something had been bugging her for long now. I asked her, “What was bothering her?” She told me that both of my father’s mobile phones were switched off and she was not able to reach him since the morning.
This irked me, as my father never missed a call. Papa always carried two mobile phones with him. Just in case one might have a low battery, the other one would be a saviour then. And, he would also, keep them both in his proximity. This seemed strange.
But, I let it go as nothing serious and told Maa to stop worrying. “He must have left it somewhere or might have forgotten to charge it”, I told her. But, Maa kept trying to call him as all her efforts were going in vain. It was eleven now and two hours had passed hitherto then. Now, I was turning anxious about the situation.
I began ringing him up as well. I still had the belief that everything was fine, and he must have been engaged somewhere. I was telling myself maybe he’ll call back once he is free. Although my inner intuitions were all turning negative and I could feel that something inauspicious and ominous was about to happen. But, I kept telling myself that all is well.
My Maa’s right eye had been twitching and bothering her since the last midnight. She had oft-repeatedly told me in the past that whenever her right eye twitches, something evil happens to her or her closed ones, while I always branded her premonitions as orthodox and irrational. Also, over the past month, she had been telling me that she had been having very bad dreams where she had glimpses of blood splattered all across.
Somehow both these thoughts began to unnerve her that day, as we were unable to connect to my father for a really long time. I too lost my calm and cool. I told Maa to get in touch with other people who my father was supposed to meet on his tour and inquire about his whereabouts.
We called a number of people but no one had any idea about where he was. They all had been trying to get in touch with him, but all the efforts were going in vain.
It was two on the clock now. The situation had turned very serious now as the aura was brimming with tension. I told Maa to request Papa’s associates to inquire at the nearby police stations. We had no clue about Papa’s whereabouts and our minds were now teeming up with all sorts of murky and negative thoughts about how bad the things could have been.
But still, I had some hope. Or, maybe I was just telling myself that to stay positive and calm while I knew somewhere that evil had struck upon us. What other option did I have but to keep hope!
By now we had apprised a whole lot of people, some close relatives and my father’s associates about the escalated situation and they were all trying their best to search for him.
As long as I could remember, I had never seen my mother in such a hapless and dire state. I could see her nerves on her forehead. As she had been shaking with impending fear and trauma. She was really perturbed as the traumatizing situation had left her distraught.
The phone was constantly buzzing as people were ringing us one after another to get the updates, while I kept getting vexed up. The mental affliction and tension had hit the roof now, as I could see the dark clouds accumulating over our fate.
I was standing on the outer balcony of my flat, informing one of my elders about the situation when my world broke apart. I had never heard her shout like that. She shrieked and called out my name at the top of her pitch. I knew what had happened.
All of a sudden I could not move. I dropped my phone as my mind froze and stopped working. She ran to me and collapsed in my arms as she said the words, “Your father has left us.” Her legs atrophied for the moment as I could feel her entire body weight on my foot and my abdomen.
My entire body and my brain refused to accept the appalling words that my mother had just uttered. I shouted back at her and yelled “It’s all absurd as Papa would never leave us like that. So, shut up! It’s not possible.” as I moved her into the room onto the bed. I kept asking her who informed her of this omen, while she kept crying.
She did not reply as she was transfixed by this horrendous tragedy. She finally uttered some words after my repeated yelling, “Some police officer just called and said they had his wallet in which they found our contact details.”
My hands were shaking as I drenched in sweat. A thousand worries and thoughts had deluged my already cluttered mind. I was virulently debilitated and my body felt like a thousand pounds had been added to my weight. I was incapacitated to even get a single muscle into motion. I somehow went out of the room and called back the number when the police officer ratified the strike of the evil.
That was it. I do not know what happened for the next few minutes. That was the first and only instance of my life when I was in an absolute vacuous state. I have no idea about what happened in that lacuna of time. Was I in pain or in shock? Was my mother calling out my name or not? Was the phone still connected or not? I had no sense of it back then. I have no idea about it today.
All of a sudden I could see no future ahead of me.
Updated on 17th Feb 2017: Part 3/4 of MRS released! : I Made My Greatest Mistake Ever.