I do not remember which year that was. But yes, I was in class VIII then. I had just stepped onto my teenage years and I was a confused soul. More than what I am today… when I am at the wrong side of 30s.
I don’t know how and when things started falling apart. I was too young to comprehend and decipher. But yes… I knew for sure I did not belong to a “happy” and a “healthy” family. I saw my mom and dad cribbing and fighting day in and day out. At times it was violent. I’d wake up and see my mom with a black eye or sometimes a swollen face.
There were times when I managed the courage to ask her but she never told me the truth. My dad was beyond comprehension for me. He would never try and have an “adult” talk with me when it was about my mom and him.
So I left them at their own devises and I tried to keep myself occupied with Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Sheldon and at times the Hardy Boys series borrowed from our school library.
So I was in Class VIII … and my mom eventually decided to walk away from this marriage and we packed our bags and moved to our maternal grandparents place. I do not know what the situation was like. It was a joint family with too many people. I was happy to be around my cousins and mingle around. What my mom was going through was perhaps tough and not easy. But that’s altogether another story I will write some other day.
So I was in school. It was summers. As the final bell rang, we said our prayers and walked down to the main gates and then head home.
I remember the huge iron grilled gate. We had to pass through that gate where Sister Theresa would stand like an obedient watch dog and see all the students walk without much fuss and in a single file line. You know how life is when you are in a Convent school. Not that I mean bad but it was too suffocating and claustrophobic. And after that ordeal we would reach the main gate to be outside of our school compound. No one could enter beyond that huge iron railed gate.
And I was walking slowly – I was going home to my maternal grandparent’s house which was a five minutes’ walk from school. Ever since we came to live in with them I walked home alone, missing my other walk-a-thon friends, because they were walking in the opposite way.
As I passed those huge iron grilled gates I spotted my father. Amongst the swarm of parents waiting for their daughters. It was after a long time that I saw him. The moment I saw him, I stopped. I did not move an inch forward. I saw the eagerness on his face. He looked happy. He looked sober. He looked as if he wanted to hold me in his arms tightly and take me back home.
I was always a daddy’s pet. And he knew it too well… there were times when I saw my mom and dad arguing and without even knowing who was right and who was wrong I’d take my father’s side.
But that day was different altogether. The moment I saw him I turned back and ran as fast as I could back to the place where we usually stood for our morning and afternoon assemblies.
I had my classmate Rashida with me. She was clueless about the whole affair. All I remember after this long is she crying out “Nan…Uncle…Unlce… Naaaaaan………”
I do not know how many minutes I waited there in the inner playground. The school seemed empty and then I managed to gather my wits and courage to walk through that gate and finally head home. As I walked though the main gate I did not see my dad.
And when I reached home to my mom, all she did was yell why I got late….
Sometimes things are better left unsaid… but now I seek answers…
I do not know if a “sorry” would be adequate… I lost my dad twenty one years ago.