I’m sitting in my room, still staring at the pamphlet. Broken shards of memories slashed through my mind, arising and then dying, all in a split second. I slowly closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.
People call me brave, but I know that somewhere I’m not. Had I been brave, I would have been capable of facing my past. But I’m not. I’ve always been an expert at sweeping the issues under the carpet, but frankly, I don’t know what to do when the same issues wriggle out through the other end of the carpet, and slam squarely into my face.
I broke out of my reverie as my phone rang. It’s dad, and seriously, I couldn’t have been happier.
“Hi, what’s up?”, I said, as cheerfully as possible.
“Nothing much, just on my way to Delhi”, he asked in his usual, funky voice.
I suddenly sat up in my chair. Did he just say that he was on his way to Delhi?, “How come?”, I asked excitedly.
“Have to reach Noida by 7 pm, so I thought we could have lunch together”
I almost jumped. Dad and I hadn’t met for a long time, and I didn’t realize how much I missed him until now, “Cool! Will you be here by 3?”
“Yup. I’ll be there by 3”, he replied
“Okay! See ya”
I had partially forgotten about the workshop as I disconnected the line. Or maybe I just didn’t want to think about it right now, like I said, I’m an expert at sweeping things under the carpet.
Dad and I are sitting in Pizza hut, our classic hub for lunch outings. We always hog the pizza like hungry maniacs, and never seem to eat so much in a desi restaurant. He seems to have found a new fascination with long hair, and is now carrying a pony (Remember SRK’s pony?) He thinks it looks cool on him.
“So, why’re you going to Noida?”, I asked as I took a huge bite of my pizza.
He shrugged, “Some quality issue. Actually, all they want to do is see my face and be relieved about the fact that I’m alive. My factory is alive and all the other shit”
I nodded slowly, “I see. Business really is all about making your presence known, isn’t it? I mean, who said your ‘social capability’ doesn’t matter in the corporate world?”
He nodded, “That, and other things. Definitely not education and useless degrees”
We both chuckled. My parents have never brainwashed me into believing that ‘school’ and ‘marks’ are as important as breathing. Both of them know that it really doesn’t matter how well you did in school or college, what really matters is your capacity to handle shit. Because that’s truly what’s life’s all about.
“How’s mom doing?”, he asked after we stopped laughing.
“Good”, I replied, and gave him a brief update on the status. In spite of everything, my parents didn’t end things on a bad note. My mom being the kind of person she is, didn’t really ask for alimony, but just asked my dad to give as much as it was possible for him.
During the lunch, I was briefly tempted to tell Dad about the workshop on alcoholism, but then stopped. I realized how that subject is still sensitive, for all of us. Plus I didn’t want to screw the little time I had with him, so I decided to swallow my urge. We talked about everything and nothing, I told him about the maths project, and how Nandita was trying to hook me up with Ayush. He really started laughing at that, not at the idea of Nandita trying to hook me up with someone, but rather the idea of me having a boyfriend.
“Um, you and a boyfriend?”, He said between laughs, “Right. Pigs can fly too”
“Ha Ha Ha. Very funny dad”, I replied in a fake ‘pissed-off’ tone. But somewhere he was right. I was just not girlfriend material.
He told me about his work, our dog (My dad has one) and generally about everything. We debated about whether Avatar was a good film or not (we always end up debating about something), and just when the debate was heating up, we realized that we were literally yelling and burst out laughing.
After lunch, I hugged him before he left for Noida and I made my way towards home, feeling happy. I always have a good time with dad, with him, time seems to fly. We had once gone to Bangalore together and I remember all the khoofiyapanti we did there. It was like being on an excursion trip with my best friend. Moments like these, they make me happy. But they also make me sad when they’re over.
“Okay, so this is what we can do. We can burn the edges of the poster so that it looks like those old, burnt scrolls. I think it looks really good”, said Nandita.
“Hmm, I guess your right”, replied Ayush, thoughtfully.
Nandita and Ayush were discussing the project over the phone. Nandita was the kind of person who would die to share her idea when it struck her, regardless of the time. And hence, at 11 pm at night, she called Ayush to share an idea about the poster that occurred to her a while ago. Luckily for her, Ayush was an insomniac too.
“Yeah, and you can shade it with a little brown and yellow color, if you can picture the blend. You know, the ‘authentic’ kinda look”, she said.
“I think we should paint the background black, to give it a ‘darkness' shade, you know? and then I was planning to draw two fire torches at the bottom, to depict ‘enlightenment’. It’s kind of symbolic”
“I think I can imagine that. I like it, we should do it”, said Nandita
“Really? So far everyone seems to have rejected it. Both Vivek and Naina hate it. Particularly Naina. Jeez, if there is something known as ‘Chalk and cheese’ award, then we should really get it”
Nandita chuckled, “Yeah, she’s a little different. It’ll take time but you’ll get used to her. Anyway, I like your idea. We’ll battle it out with Vivek and Naina. Don’t worry”, she replied
“Yeah, sounds good. So we’re meeting on Sunday?”
“Okay, see you tomorrow in school then. Bye”
Just as Nandita disconnected the line, she heard the noise of glass being shattered from the kitchen. Startled, she ran outside her room and to the kitchen, only to see her mom glaring at her dad, and her dad returning her deathly stare. She sighed and shook her head. When are they going to stop bickering every single day?
As if tuned in to this habit, she quietly turned around and walked back to her room. She could hear faint voices. I lost him because of you!
It was always the same.
No, please don’t fight, please don’t fight, chanted a little girl as tears rolled down her cheeks. She stood in one corner of the house, staring at her parents screaming at each other, unaware of what they were really saying. It just went on, she wanted it to stop, she wanted someone to bring to a stop...
I snapped my eyes open to absolute darkness. I was taking deep breaths, trying to recover from the dream. Jumping out of bed, I quickly ran and turned on the light. I have this inexplicable fear of the dark, I feel lost and helpless when there’s no light. It had been a long time since I had one of those nightmares, but this workshop had started to act as a trigger. It had kicked into the well settled sand once again.
I had never shared with anyone, not even myself, that my parents were alcoholics in the past. I don’t want to attend this workshop.