My Pa: A Short Story
I am fifteen. My Pa has been visiting me for nine years. It used to be very pleasant earlier but now, sometimes, I feel bored. What can this relation be called? There is no bond but he is my Pa.
Yesterday, when I met Papa, he said, “What will you eat?”
I laughed because he is always worried about my food and he does not realize what I miss and what colours I want to give to my sky. He must think about it.
“I am not hungry but I will have something,” said I just to please him.
In my situation more than my stomach, my heart and mind feel hungry. When I leave home in the morning, I am mostly full after a heavy breakfast and I am not so little so as to demand things when I reach the restaurant where Pa meets me. My mother leaves me there only after confirming that Pa has already reached there.
Even now, Pa smiles and says to her, “Come and sit with us for a while. Have a cup of coffee with us.”
“No, thanks,” says my mother and, without even giving him a second glance, drives off in her car.
How near two people happen to be sometime and they talk about their love in life after life but sometime they crush the remaining petals of their love brutally under their feet. They don’t spare even the best of the pages of their happy times together and they throw them in the shredding machine of time.
I often think whether my mother and Pa were so close to each other. I don’t know why but I don’t believe it. My loving Pa, now, loves Alka auntie and calls her ‘darling’, ‘sweetie’, and ‘honey’. Likewise, my mother sweetly addresses my step-father and calls him ‘darling’ and whatnot.
I keep on thinking for hours and when I am tired, I stop. I remember our old house. Pa used to mow the grass in the lawn and on Sundays he would look at every plant very carefully.
“What are you thinking, Guria? Your hamburger is getting cold,” said my Pa.
I smiled and looked at the hamburger on the table in front of me. I did not realize when he had ordered that. He has been doing the same for so many years. We have been meeting in this Asian restaurant. He used to order Asian dishes earlier but now he orders the things which I like. He thinks my mother does not allow me to eat all those things at home.
My mother has developed a taste for English and Italian food, after marrying Daddy, my step-father. She does not cook chapattis anymore and if I want to eat roti or chapatti, I pick a packet of naan from the store. It is only my Pa who has still kept the taste of Asian food alive. He lets me eat spicy things, samosas, chat, dosa, etc. Having eaten spicy food, drops of perspiration appear on my face and my Pa feels delighted. Then he orders some sweets.
My Pa is so good but my mother does not like him. I don’t know why! Once I had asked the mother, “Did you take divorce or did he leave you?”
“Both,” she tried to wave the issue.
How is it possible? There must be at least one strong reason. At that time I was only six.
My mother was a trained nurse, one year after the divorce; she started working at a nursery. Those days were really terrible because when I came back from school, the house would be empty. It was a new house and I did not like it. After the divorce, Pa had sold the old house. Once I had insisted on going to our old house but my mother had said angrily, “He had sold that house to give us money for survival, do you understand? Never mention that inauspicious house again. That house was our enemy!”
I had never heard the word ‘inauspicious’ before and I was unable to understand how the house had filled our stomachs. I was confused but I asked, “What is inauspicious?”
“Mother, why doesn’t Pa live with us?”
She was very angry, “Don’t ask me! If you want to know, ask your Pa, who does not like to live with me!”
On our next meeting, I had asked Pa, and he had repeated my mother’s answer, “Sometimes, one happens to be good but others don’t like him, my doll, and it is not essential that good is really good.”