Friday, June 13, 2014

Home: A Short Story

By Sunaina Patnaik at Friday, June 13, 2014

As the plane took off, I kept staring down at the country I was leaving behind. Momentarily or forever.

"I am going home," I murmured in disbelief. How long has it been? A good fifteen years?

Home. India. Home. Hyderabad.

The very thought of home made me wince. It brought back all the unpleasant memories of my childhood, the awful moments spent anticipating the worst to come, evenings spent aimlessly along the Necklace road, the lonely youth, and all the days spent with books and copious amounts of coffee.

I found home in a continent far away from home. I found home in a place called Pasadena which was familiar only on a map fifteen years ago. I found family in a place I never thought I would end up in. The unforeseen circumstances life puts us in.

On a rather sunny day, when I was taking a stroll back from a friend's place, I received a call from my cousin bearing the news of my father's death. I was to go back to Hyderabad, he said. I am the only son, he convinced. And, I am the final fragment of the family that was left, he warned.

I sit back and think of all the dreadful moments I have spent with my father. I cannot forget the fact that he loathed my mother all her life - harassing and abusing her, making her life a hell to live in. I was no exception to the terrible treatment. I received my share. Everyday. Every evening. I recollect all the moments I spent envying my friends who had fathers who went cycling and made paper boats along with them, read stories to them in the night, and had dinners with them. I was deprived of the tiniest joys and festivities. 

I loved my mother dearly. I recollect the days she would come to pick me up from school, wearing a cotton saree with vermillion on her forehead. As we walked from the school to home, her bangles emanated a joyous jingle. It was that sound that I missed the past fifteen years, the jingle that used to tiptoe into my room to check if I was asleep well in the nights, the jingle that surrounded me as she cleaned my room, fed me, and giggled with me.

I fish out my wallet and look at her picture. My mother. I murmur, fondly. 

As a reclusive teenager, I felt lost when my mother died. The pain was excruciating. My mother was the only person who understood me and stood by my side in the whole wide world, and I saw her burn and reduce into ashes in front of my eyes. I still remember the way my father behaved on that day and my abhorrence for him increased to a whole new level and that was the moment I realized I had to leave India and look out for myself.

A new country. Different people. Cultural difference. Demanding course structures. And the pain of losing my mother.

The past fifteen years passed on as quickly as a whirlwind without a thought of my father. I have studied, travelled, met interesting people, travelled a little more, fell in love, got my heart broken, got on with my life, and made decent amount of money. My house is a mantel of memories that brought me an immense amount of joy yet there was something that gave me restless nights.

Was it the forgotten bond with my father? Or the home that I left behind more than a decade ago? Was it the responsibility that I left behind selfishly? I never figured it out all these years, but may be, it was the guilt of leaving my father - a punishment that was too severe.

I have maintained no forms of communication with him, and I wondered how he led the final stages of his life. Surely, the surly old man would have reformed! He would have repented for all the mistakes he has done. I will learn everything about the last fifteen years tomorrow. I will make up for all the time. I said it to myself, more or less out of guilt.

But as I lean back trying to get some sleep, I knew there will always be a part of me that will hate my father. 


saichandra sv on 28 Oct 2014, 12:28:00 said...

No words to say..... A bit emotional.....


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