Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Papa. My father.( a short fictitious story)

He reached out for the alarm clock on the bedside and turned it off. Still one hour to go .
Sleep evaded him.
He turned back to look at the small form curled up under the blankets, heaving softly in the rhythmic breath which only peaceful sleep can bring.

Almost on cue,  her little head emerged from the cave of blankets to give him a Good morning smile.
His heart felt that ache again. She looked so much like Her . Like her mother. It was almost like fate had given him this gift as a keepsake copy while snatching away the original so ruthlessly.

It was an usual day. The toothbrush song he had taught her as  her little brush sweaked in the frothy toothpaste. The warm mug of Bournvita . The bread smothered with her favourite plum jam  and peanut butter, cut into little pieces she could fork up easily. His hands deftly buttoning up her little denims. The long brush strokes as she sat on his lap, that made her hair glisten like a raven's jet black wings.

She skipped  along side to the car and stopped at the sight of the red suitcase, sitting imposingly on the front step.
"Where are we going, Papa?"
He paused, not wanting  to hear his voice mouthing the reality that was about to strike in a while.

Her young mind did not grasp the pause as she dragged the suitcase with him to the car.
" I like helping you," she said, looking up at him lovingly.
His mind went back to another day, another time when the same eyes had looked up at him. The same love. The same words. The same emotion.

They drove into the courtyard.
She look surprised at the sea of men and women in black and white, walking about with folders and papers.
"They are dressed like penguins, Papa," she said.

" Baby, go with this nice lady for a while and play with her. Papa has some  work to finish. Then we will go for a good  burger and fries meal. "
" Pwomise?"

 He sat on the bench. Waiting for the Proceedings.

His face was expressionless when the Man walked in, his arrogance  already showing his confidence of a win. He liked calling him the Man. That took away the relationship  the Man had with Her. Took away the bitterness he felt that all he had of Her were just two beautiful years. While the Man had thirteen. Making the Man nameless took away some of the humanness and made him look at the Man like an emotionless machine. She had always called  the Man that. A Robot. A selfish robot.

The final Battle began.
Rights of a "father". By birth? By support?
Can a man who has no relation at all even claim to be a "father"?

Serious faces in black and white cite Articles and Sections and make Points and Counterpoints.
The Man sits back, even more confident.
The little girl waits in the adjoining room, playing with her puzzle, waiting for Papa .

He is oblivious to all this. All he can see  and hear is Her. Smiling at him confidently. Asking him to Think Positive. To Believe.  He nodded silently. That's what she  had been about. Always positive. Always believing in life and love.

The Verdict.  He stands respectfully like the rest, still in oblivion. The wild enraged cry from the Man brings him back to the present.

He hears the congratulations.  Accepts the pats on the back. Thanks the right people. Ignores the flash bulbs of hungry media waiting to break the story of justice.

All he could see was Her face, smiling gratefully. With a relief her living years had robbed of her.

The little girl was tired of waiting. She walked to the door and peered out.
Her worried face broke into a smile as she saw him walking towards her.

She looked at the lady who was with her, and said,
" There's my Papa. My father. We are going home."

What is it about small towns

Started writing about brand management- hangover from the weekend.
Couldn't. This blog is about what I feel and not what I should write.

So am  sharing a beautiful experience of the cobbled alleys of a small town that gave me so much joy and brought back a flood of memories.

There is something about smaller places. Some magic that the concretisation, wired up generation , wider roads, mobile operator signages  and the ever expanding boundary line have not been able to erode.

Maybe it is the smile on the face of the "locals"  when strangers roll down the car windows and ask for directions.

The small stalls lining the roadside  peddling sumptious food - steaming omelettes, chinese noodles and manchurian, sandwiches and the ubiqitous rolls. Where noone even dreams of wondering whether it is hygienic. It is. We have been having them for ages.

Where the grocery is still from the neighbourhood grocer store. Laden with toys and spices and biscuits and toiletries and everything that a household could possibly want.

The tired taxi driver who turns the wheel readily and agrees to drop us  in the dead of the night, even though his family waits for him to get back home. And asking us to pay "whatever we want" as it was not on meter.

The  service in the hotels and guesthouses where the waiters are friends and takes the babies and children out to play  while the guests can relax. Never asking or waiting for a tip.

Where neighbours are family. And the walls are just a physical separation of properties.

Where  passerbys still stand aside and make way for the elderly. And  give up a seat in the bus readily. So what if it means an hour of standing on tired feet.

Where every festival is a community celebration. Everyone gets a plate of puja  prasad   or a slice of cake and a handful of marzipan on Christmas day.

Where  there  is no mad race to get ahead, whether it is on the roads or in queues or in life.

Where people still have time to walk in the morning or stroll with the kids  at dusk.

Small towns have their share of woes. Disgruntlement  does set in, like the load shedding that brings in darkness and flies. City returned  children shuffle and rant about lack of connectivity, handful of channels and no happening joints at night. Young men  get restless wanting to earn more bucks in the promised lands. The skyscrapers and blinking night lights in cities that never sleep attract the inhabitants and the youth like bees to honey.

People like me. Like us.
We earn, we burn, we achieve, we revel, we acquire, we lose, we race, we celebrate, we enjoy. We do.

That's what life is all about.
Yet the magic of the small towns and the simple lives haunt me whenever I go back .For a brief respite.