Saturday, February 11, 2012

Black and White

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 24; the Twenty-Fourth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for this month is BLACK AND WHITE.

“Do you miss him, dad?”

My 18 year old son asked as I stood still looking straight at my father’s grave. The darkness before the dawn had engulfed the graveyard, a cold breeze lingered around as the shouts of a crow filled the air.

“Why do we always come so early in the morning dad, cant we at least wait for the sun rise?”
“Dad?”

His words or the crows’ shouts, I was deaf to all the sounds around me, standing at the foot of the grave I looked at the tree that stood at the other end of the grave.

“Do you miss him, dad?”

“Ah?”

“Do you miss him?”

I smiled as I put my arms around his shoulder, looking at the grave for a brief moment I turned to him,

“I grew up missing him.”

“I don’t understand?”

“My father, he was with this company which made him travel all around the country selling some sort of electronic boards. He would visit us once in six months, stay for a week and then leave again to travel the country.”

“Wow! I wish I can score a job like that, it would be one exciting affair.”

“I agree, when I was around 10 all I did was dream of travelling like him, not just India but travelling the world would be a dream job.”

“Man, grand da sure had an awesome job.”

I smiled as I let the words float around in my head, nodding with a soft voice I spoke

“He was my hero then.”

Noticing my eyes well up, Sid spoke

“You really do miss him.”

“Ah. I don’t believe that.”

“Look at your eyes dad you are about to weep like a girl, come on.”

I smirked at his comment and turned towards the grave

“I am not sad because I miss him, I am sad because I never had him.”

“Trust me dad, having someone always overlooking you is over hyped.”

“Smart, but not quite enough to push me away.”

“Well it was worth a try.”

I turned away from Sid and stared at the grave, letting my silence take over the conversation.

“Oh, please don’t be so serious dad; you know I was just joking.”

“Humor, one of my many traits you have inherited. I know Sid.” I smiled at him and continued

“I just remembered something.”

“Waves of memories gushing in your head” he tried to mimic my voice

“Drops of memories trickling in” 

“Which one is your favorite?”

“There were too few for me to choose a favorite, but there was one day that he spent with me I will never forget.”
    
“I think I was twelve when I decided that I wanted to grow up to become India’s premier leg spin bowler. I spent a good chunk of my free time bowling at a single wicket in a playground near my house.”

“All by yourself?”

“Yes, all by myself. I wanted to be the definition of dedication. I would run to the ground right after lunch and practice till the sun went down.  That day was also like no other I reached the ground, hammered the wicket and started bowling.  Almost an hour had passed when an elegant white car stopped near the ground, I couldn’t control my joy when I saw appa walk out the car.

He shouted as he walked towards me ‘I think you are missing a batsman, cricket usually has a batsman.’

“Ya but there is no batsman who has the guts to face my spin”

“Smart, but not quite enough to push me away.”

“I didn’t bring a bat, appa”

“Well I brought one with me; now give me your best”

You know, I bowled my best that day; he couldn’t hit a single shot. I got him out at least 50 times that evening. Each time he got out, he would nod his head in respect and commend my ability to spin the ball. Leg spin, goggly, flipper, I surprised him with all my tricks. He finally gave up and asked me to bat. 

He bowled one loose ball after another I hit them all out of the park. I had him running all around. Finally tired he walked up to me and said

“I am just glad I got to play with the best cricketer I have ever seen.”

It was the first time he had ever played with me and I turned out to be better than him, my hero, my appa.

We walked back to car and he drove me to an ice-cream parlour nearby, I remember I took a chocolate ice-cream and he ordered a butter scotch. I never understood the reason for other flavours when there was chocolate and I shook my head in disapproval as he ordered butterscotch.

“Appa, I am going to grow up to be the best bowler in India.”

“With the way you play, you will be the best in the world.”

Nothing could stop me I thought; I had his blessings after all.

I smiled at him and spoke as we watched the sun go down the horizon

“I am so happy you came, appa”


“Nice”

"Nice?"

 “But what happened to the whole dream of becoming the best cricketer?”

“Well I turned 18 one day and realized there were far more interesting balls around than the cricket ball.”

“Oh good God, did my dad just say that? Did you just say that, and I thought I was the cool teenager here.”

“Don’t tell your mom I said that” 

We both broke into laughter looking at each other and shaking our heads.

“Can we go now dad please, it is so cold here.”

 “Give me just ten minutes you go wait in the car.”

“Okay”

As he walked away he stopped for a second and turned back to me and spoke

“Thanks dad for sharing that special day of your life.”

“Well…”

“After listening to your story I am just glad I have a lot more than one such day to tell my kids about.”

“The day one can never forget in our life.”

I smiled as he walked away, I was proud of him. I was proud of myself, the greatest gift I had given myself and to him was the time I had spent with him.  
As he walked away I turned towards the grave, standing by the side I looked down at the grave, the words ‘The Day I will never forget’ bounced in my head.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, I was 28 when one day appa called me up at 4 in the morning. Thoughts of meeting him or not waged a battle in my head, pulling myself up from the bed I decided to meet him. I called him to ask him where he was only to be shocked to learn that he was waiting for me near my mother’s grave. The mind is always fast to think negative and fill imagination with images that prompt worry and fear in the heart.

Getting down from the car I walked past the unguarded gate to enter the graveyard, the dark of the night and the fear of the unknown prompted me to look back to check if someone walked behind me, finding my way using a torch light I walked to the grave to be welcomed by sounds of shoveling. My worst nightmares looked to have come true when I saw appa down in the hole digging it deeper.

“Appa, what are you doing?” I asked with fear laced in my voice

“Oh, you are here. Come here give me a hand.”

“Everything okay? What are you doing?”

“You know all those movies that have the same dialogue, 6 by 3 is all one needs at the end, none of them tell you how deep the hole should be. I am always confused.”

“I think we should leave appa, I think you are stressed.”

“Stressed? I have always been stressed.”

“Where is the guard, how did they let you dig a hole here?”

“The guard, don’t worry about him I bought his day and sent him away.”

“What’s happening appa, you are starting to scare me.”

“I wanted us to be alone here. I wanted to talk to you.”

“We could talked at home, we could talked on the road but here?”

“I have been stressed for a long time my son, tired and stressed. I feel heavy filled with guilt. I need to confess today.”

“Guilt I can understand but here…”

“Let me finish, let me talk.”

“I have been tired from the day you were born. I was not made to be a father, heck! I was not made to be a husband either. I hardly remember your childhood…”

“Well you were not around much to remember…”

“Yes, travelling around the country away from the two of you. I confess I used to feel a sense of relief every time I walked away from the house but the guilt of feeling relief would tear me apart. I hated you both for filling me up with guilt.”

“I didn’t know you called me here to insult me and my mother at her grave. You were never my father you will never be one.”

I turned away in disgust to walk when he called out

“Wait, listen to me I need to confess today. Listen to me, you owe me that much.”

“I don’t owe you anything.”

“Just listen to me, come here, whose grave is this?”

“That is my mother’s grave even you know that.”

“How did she die?”

“You know how, she had complications with her health, one of those rare moments when we both spent 
days together.”

“She didn’t die of complications son, I killed her.”

“Stop talking, just shut up.”

“Listen to me, I killed her, I killed her slowly and painfully.”

“The only reason stopping me from slapping you is that fact that you are my father. I am leaving now.”

“Wait listen to me, let me tell you a story. Wait a second let me tell you a story."

"When I married your mom she was very young, 23 or 24 I think. Full of dreams, filled with energy, her smile captured my imagination. We had an arranged marriage but we still managed to go around, movies, hotels, parks. I always held her hand, soft fingers that curled against mine, she was my angel.”
"I meant the world to her, her mornings her whole day was dedicated to me. Everything looked so perfect then." 

“After we got married, her priorities looked to be changing slowly. She started spending all her time caring for my mother, who fell sick, slowly fights sprouted  in our marriage. A kid might ease the tensions your mother tricked me one ill night. You were born and after that her world was just you. I was suddenly not important anymore.”

 “You disgust me appa…”

“Attention I wanted attention all I cared was about my feelings. I told you I was not meant to be a father or a husband.”

“I started to travel; I fell in love with my traveling. I fell in love with the ladies around me, I left you both to yourselves, but as the days passed suddenly you felt the need for me; she felt the need for me. How could I come back and forgive her, I wanted her to feel the same dejection I felt. I let you grow fatherless and her age husband-less.”

“I killed her I know and now the guilt eats me from inside. “

I stood looking down at my mother’s grave, I was too disgusted to look at my father. His words played in my head, the effect of his words filled my eyes to set rolling drops of tears down my cheeks. Rubbing my tears I tried to control more from flowing.    

“And I was a fool to think of you as my hero growing up.”

“Don’t tell me that, don’t give me any belief that I was a father to you for even a single day.”

“Do you know which is the day I hate the most, the day I came down to play cricket with you when you were young. The day I smiled, the day I laughed with you, the day I felt proud of you, the day I felt like a father to you. I hated myself for letting in those foreign emotions into my heart, I hated that day for making me feel guilty when I walked away from you.”

“How many do you think would come looking for you if I killed you now, son.”

“Don’t you dare call me son and don’t even think of it, at least a hundred will come to hunt you down.”

“How many do you think will come looking for me if you killed me now.”

“Your silence answers my question, I laughed at those fools out there back in those days and today I die alone in my tears.”

“Do you know who lies in that grave?”

“No I don’t.”

“Rose, your mother’s best friend, I used to visit her once every month. I was her world, with her eyes always looking for me and her hands entangled in mine, she spent her life making me happy.”

“Now I know why she killed herself.”

“I murdered her but she brought it upon herself.”

“Don’t be shocked, the strength one gets when your life is at stake when all hope is lost is amazing. She was alone and looked depressed to others so nobody suspected a thing.” 

“We had it all till one day she asked me to marry her.”

“Marriage I tell you don’t ever get one, but you here, you are ready to get married in a few days now.”

“How is your girl friend?”

“That is none of your business.”

“This is the reason I called you here, don’t get married son, you are my blood, my genes and you can never be a good husband to anyone.”

“That is not true, you are not my father I can hardly recognize you.”

“I was the same when I was your age, you will turn out exactly like me, a lousy husband and a nonexistent father. You can try all you want but you will never be happy married to her.”

“I am not you.” I shouted out in anger

“Shout all you want but the blood that flows remains the same. You will end up killing that girl like I killed your mother and Rossy aunty.”

“I am not you.” I shouted out in anger and in the fit of extreme rage that filled my head I hit his legs hard with the shovel that lay on the ground.

Clenching his teeth he fell to his knees, blood oozed out of his knee caps but he managed to smile at me,

“You think you are different but you are the same as me.”

I had lost control over my actions, years of anger along with the words he spoke brought a gush of hatred in me, with a hard swing to his head I brought him down to the ground.
As his head hit the ground he mumbled softly

“You think you are different I know you are too, I know you will not grow up to be like me.”

I fell to my knees as a sense of fear gripped my heart, as I went close he managed to speak again

“The day that I spent with you cherish it please, I wanted to let you take my life, I owed it to you.”

In silence I pushed him down the hole he had dug, as I buried him under the mud I started to feel what he had meant earlier, the strength one finds when your life is at stake can leave one surprised wondering if we had it in there all along.

The rays of the rising sun slowly started to hit the ground, I stood by a tree sapling that looked to be planted only that day, I watched the sun rise to bring in a new day, the light that spread around cleared any darkness that was left of the night away.     

“Thank you for coming, my son” his last words echoed in my head as I walked away from the grave.


“What took you so long dad?”

“Nothing I just remembered something.”

“Another special day?”

I smiled and sat silent behind the steering wheel.

“Can I ask you something dad?”

“Ya sure.”

“What do you think every time you come here and stand in front of the grave? How do you feel?”

“It just reminds me of the fact that a person's life can have shades of both black and white, it is the balance in them that is the secret to a happy life.”

“Wow! You should write a book dad.”

I smiled as I turned to him

“And to answer your second question, I feel a deep desire to be a better father.”

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
  

8 comments:

Someone is Special said...

OMG! Harsha, What a way to weave a story and what a lesson, every person living in this world has a shade of grey in his life but this beautiful father who killed (for good) is a gem. His son will be proud of him.. Loved your concept.. Best wishes for you to win..

Someone is Special

Gyanban said...

Sensitive and poignant .I liked the simplicity of your story,the emotions re captured well.
Cheers
GB

Tharangni said...

so good! good luck with blog-a-ton! :)

Harsha Chittar said...

@Someone Is Special: Thanks for your comment and for reading the short story.
@Gyanban: Thanks its been a long time good to come together again for Blog-a-ton
@Tharangi: Thanks, my best wishes to you too

The Fool said...

Very interestingly weaved. You have a knack for narrative. I am surprised you don't write more.

D2 said...

This could have hardly have been done better. Poignant and left a mark. I loved the role of each character and the effortlessness with which you described their actions and underlying reasons. Lovely story.
All the best for BAT.

Enchanta said...

Very unique storyline and well designed dialogues.

But I do think this could have been made shorter, perhaps. Its just an opinion but I think that once a person gets the hang of something piercing, it should be left to pierce instead of being tended to.

the critics said...

i loved your narration .....but seriously the story was going fantastic for a while and then you lost me somewhere.....why you put everything that is bad into this poor dad .....:(....... already he was portrayed having darker sides then it become more darker.....
your choice words is good and i enjoyed it...


rajathecritic - BLACK AND WHITE