Best father

I waited until Aparna slept and then got up from her bed. I was beginning to get a headache and I needed to take my shower. I opened my cupboard to get change of cloths and I remembered Liza. Her classes will start in few weeks time and I really needed to get her some new cloths. Even if I don’t spend any money in July, I still won’t have enough money to buy her new dresses. What am I going to do? Would Maria give me some money? Not likely. After the way I told George off, there was no way Maria would even talk to me.
My only hope was Appa. But would he send some dresses for Liza. The answer to that was simple. No, he won’t send. Liza refused to write or speak to him since going to Chikmagalur and Appa isn’t someone who forgives easily.
May be I should visit Appa. He won’t tell me not to buy dresses for myself. I just have to buy dresses a size bigger and it would fit Liza. But how was I going to do it? My part 1 internal exams will start in three weeks. There was no way I could skip the exam and I had not prepared for the exam either.
I checked the time. It was 3.45. Appa should be home. I remembered the last time I called Appa’s home. A woman answered the phone. Her voice shook the foundation of my dream castle. I knew Appa wouldn’t be a saint. But I always had hope. I always believed one day everything would be fine. I still do. what if she picks up the phone? I didn’t want to talk to her. Why should I talk to her? My mother is my father’s legal wife and why should I talk to a woman who has no qualms about sleeping with a man who has a wife and four daughters?
But more than that I was afraid if I was betraying my mother by talking to my father’s mistress. How can a daughter do that? Which self respecting daughter would speak to her father’s mistress?
I felt so tired. I leaned on my cupboard door. I realized that my destiny was completely messed up. Here I am, I have a father, a real father, yet I couldn’t call him wihtout worrying about who is going to pick up the phone. I took the bucket and the towel and opened the door slowly and walked towards the bathroom. There was hot water in the tank, but I wanted to take a cold shower.
I closed my eyes and stood under the shower. The water was cold, almost like the water in Chengannur house.
I could see myself when I visited Chengannur house with my parents and my sisters when I was 9 years old. Liza was 5 years old. That was the first time Ammachi allowed me to draw the water from the well using the bucket. I waited so long to be allowed to draw the water from the well. Until then only Maria was allowed to draw the water and she never let me play with her.
The first time I pulled the bucket up, I only managed to get 1/4 bucket of water because most of it spilled when the bucket hit the side of the well. But it felt heavenly when I poured that cold water on my leg. It felt so good to finally grow big enough to draw the water from the well.
Liza too wanted to play with me and I didn’t want her to. I waited so long for this moment and I wanted to cherish it, not share it. But I remembered how it felt to sit on the kitchen floor and watch my oldest sister having fun and not being allowed to share that fun. So I let Liza join me and together we splashed water on each other. Eventually Appa too joined us and he started to chase us around the well with the bucket and douse us with water. I remembered the happiness on Liza’s face. I could still see the sour face of Maria, standing near the kitchen door and watching Appa and us playing and having fun. I remembered thinking, I will treat my sisters well, no matter what happens. Not like you Maria, not like the way you treat me.
I had to get new dresses for Liza. I wouldn’t let her friends laugh at her.
I took a quick shower,went back to my room, took some money and walked to the phone booth. I thought of praying. May be I should ask God for help and ask that Appa picks up the phone not his mistress. Then I thought how silly that would be. Why should God do such silly things? Shouldn’t God be more concerned about things like eradicating poverty and illness and things like that? I decided not to trouble God. Besides I knew if it has to happen, it will happen. If she picks up the phone, I will tell her to pass the phone to Appa.
I dialled the number and waited. My heart started to pound and my lungs struggled to breath. Then I heard the voice that said
I could almost feel my legs going weak.
“Hello Appa, it is me”
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, Appa”
“Do you want money?”
“No Appa. I don’t need money. I was wondering if I could visit you”
“Why Nina?” He sounded annoyed or angry.
I tried to think quickly what should I say? If I say for no particular reason, Appa would say, he isn’t going to waste the money unnecessarily.
“I need your help Appa”
“What help?”
“I was wondering what should I specialize in after MBBS. You know I need to plan it now itself”
My father said Oh. That simply means he is lost for words and I seized the chance
“Appa, you are smart when it comes to all this. Besides nobody knows me better than you. You are the best Appa in the whole wide world”
I felt sick for telling the man who abandoned me when I needed him the most that he was the best father in the whole world.
“when are you planning to come?”
“I have holidays the week after next for three weeks”
Damn it, my internals would start in three weeks time. My holidays will start only after the internals. I hoped Appa won’t know that.
“Ok. Book your ticket for next week. Is your passport still valid?”
“Yes Appa, thank you Appa”
I wanted to dance.
“Let me know the date and time of your flight. Take the Dubai flight, I will pick you up from the airport. Do you have money for the ticket?”
What does my father think? I have a money printing machine?
“No Appa”
“I will send the draft today. Anyway book your ticket”
“Thanks Appa”
“Bye Appa”
I paid the money to the booth operator and walked out. I had to sit somewhere. I walked straight to the canteen and sat down. It was unbelievable. Appa actually told me to book the ticket. He never allowed Amma to visit him and he is letting me. I had to book my tickets quickly, before he changes his mind.

9 thoughts on “Best father

  1. Not sure what happened here. You are booking a ticket from BLR to Dubai to buy clothes for your sister? Why not get it locally? Yes, I understand you don’t have money at hand and yet no other way to get some money send to you? You said your dad asked you if you needed money!

    (please pardon my over exuberance with comments today)

  2. Muthoor: My mother moved to Bangalore when she retired.
    My father had stopped sending money to my sisters or to my mother years ago. But when Amma was working, we didn’t really require Appa’s support.
    I was the only one Appa send money to( May be because, I was the only one who ever kept in touch with him)
    Every single cent Appa send to me needed to be accounted for by bills or other proof. He wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t give any money to my mother.
    When my mother came to Bangalore, she was under the impression that, Maria would support us financially. Rather I should say, she came to Bangalore because Maria was our only hope. But that didn’t happen.
    Her pension was 1720 rs and the house rent in Bangalore was 1350 rs.
    With 370 rs, my mother had to send two kids to school, buy food, pay the electricity bill etc.
    The truth was, I had to financially support my sisters and my mother, or they would be hungry.

    We didn’t have any family members to lean on and going to Chengannur house wasn’t an option because by then my father had placed a court order against my mother and Chengannur house was in his name and he had the right to do what he wanted with his house.

    My sisters were growing up and unlike me they needed new cloths. I still could wear my mother’s sarees, but it wasn’t the same for my baby sisters…They were also taller than me and they couldn’t fit in to any of my old dresses.
    I also had to get tuition fee for my youngest sister somehow.
    Liza was also a star athlete and we couldn’t afford to buy trainers for her. More than her, I wanted her to have the trainers, because a sports scholarship was the only hope I had for her further education.

    So I went to middle east to visit my father. I couldn’t see any other options.

    My father gave me 1500 dirhams to spend
    I got cloths, Nido milk powder, Tang, tea, coffee, coffee mate,canned tuna, noodles, cup o soup packets all in the pre text of wanting to use them at the hostel during exam time.
    I also got Nike shoes for Liza( Liza’s shoe size was 8 and mine 6 and each day when my father went to work, I walked around the house wearing her shoes, so I could walk wearing a shoe 2 size bigger than mine and Appa won’t doubt me when I wear those shoes at the time of departure. I was afraid to pack the shoes in the bag. I was afraid that someone might steal that shoes from my baggage..You would never know how precious those shoes were to me.. For me those shoes represented the only chance of a state bank job or a railway job for my sister)
    Just in case if you are wondering how I managed to buy the shoes 2 size bigger,.. Most of the times I asked my father’s driver to take me out for shopping when my father was at work. I wore that shoe when I left, because I

    I also buttered/begged/convinced Appa to buy a gold chain for myself, which we sold when I came back to pay Sally’s school fees.
    I even saved the chocolate I got in the aircraft. ( even now I still look for that chocolate at the malls, but can’t find it anywhere. It was a Swiss chocolate and had a light purple cover and a picture of cow on it and I don’t remember the name.) just so my sisters would get it to eat a bar of chocolate..because, by the time I finished buying all the stuff, I didn’t have any more money to buy a bar of chocolate for them and there was no point asking my dad for more money.
    When you read my blog, please understand It isn’t emotionally possible to write every single piece of my memories.

    Unless you have been in my shoes, please don’t question me.
    My life isn’t a detective novel, neither is a mystery for you to unravel.

  3. Hi Sara,

    Hope you all really enjoyed the trip.

    That swiss chocolate – your narration is correct. i got a packet last year as a gift from my colleague. I forget the name.

  4. Hi Sarah,
    Have being reading ur blog since a long time though i started bloging very recently.

    nice blog. touches me at evey point and im happy and respect ur strength and love for the family.

    hope u had a nice trip. maybe u should let us with a travel blog πŸ™‚

  5. Hi

    Yet another regular of your blog.
    Everytime I feel super ‘blah’, I draw comfort from your writing; y’know like the ‘Chicken Soup for…life!’? πŸ™‚
    Anyways hope you’d a great vacation!

  6. Oh My … did I touch a tender chord? No malice intended.
    Questions are not challenges either; my friend.
    I truly empathize with the situation you were facing and the facts surrounding your actions were only known to you.
    May be I was too inquisitive by being so bold to ask the obvious!
    I shall be careful.

    Yet, I frankly and deeply appreciate your elaborate response.

    Thank you.

  7. I also was wondering like muthoor.. but was skeptical to ask this question.. But then reading ur elaborate response.. I now understand y u had to go..

    BTW what happened to ur internals after this.. how did ur dad treat u.. hope u write about all this in the future posts..

  8. hi,
    I can understand that u had a very rough time.But try to be less critical.I’m referring to ur response to muthoor’s comments.This is a blog anyone can access and u should be able to accept both the good and bad reviews gracefully.

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