“I’ve heard enough of this, stop it.”
“Papa, please” Nirnay pleaded.
“I said NO, Nirnay. End of discussion, got it?” I said forcefully.
“You always think you’re right. Insensitive.” He shouted out of frustration.
And as a reflex, my hand swung instantly. *Slap*
The slap hit him so hard that Nirnay got pushed by a few steps. Even Radhika, my wife was shocked at my reaction. I was just looking at my hand and Nirnay, alternately, again and again, with my mind questioning myself “What did you just do?”
My son wasn’t looking at me. He kept looking down and kept walking away, slowly towards his room. Radhika was looking at me with her eyes wide open, still in shock. I wasn’t able to look into her eyes. I looked at Nirnay again. He was still dragging himself towards his room, crying I think, as I could hear whisper-like sobs. I just wanted extend my hand and say “Son, wait, I’m sorry”, but couldn’t do either.
I was looking at Nirnay and was feeling sorry. Suddenly, I felt a touch on my shoulder. It was Radhika.
“What was that? Are you okay? What’s wrong with you?” She asked me in a worried tone.
“I…..I just …. I just don’t know… uh.. how did I just react like that.” I answered with a mix of frustration, shock and repentance.
“Hey, its okay. Do you want to talk about it?” She asked.
“No Radhika, probably you should let me sort myself out. Just a little time. I’ll talk to you in sometime” I answered very softly, almost pleading.
“Hey hey its fine, it’s okay. You won’t let this get to your head. Look, I won’t deny that even right now, I’m shocked but still, I know that your intentions weren’t bad at all.”
And having said that, she got up and left. I kept looking at her without blinking my eyes, as she faded away into our bedroom.
Radhika and I have known each other since our college days. So, she knows me inside out. Her understanding nature is like a Ruby on the top of a crown. Surely, proposing her in front of the bonfire outside our tent during our Shimla trip, was the best thing I ever did.
But hitting Nirnay was definitely the worst act of mine till date. I laid back on the sofa with my palms slowly rubbing my forehead and then my hair with pressure. I was just not thinking anything now. But somehow, all the good and bad moments that I had with my father and mother in the past, were going on in my head like a flashback, like a recap. I realized that a similar instance had happened about 20 years back between my father and I. I remembered that all I needed that night after having been slapped by my father, was a little conversation. But I wasn’t very fortunate enough to get one, that night.
I got up instantly and walked towards Nirnay’s room. It added to my remorse to see that that Nirnay had slept already and I couldn’t even talk to him, probably when he needed a coversation. I stood at the entrance of his room and looked at the room’s door. He had decorated it beautifully with various cartoon stickers and other craft items. In the center of the door was a pic of him as a little kid of four years, being kissed by Radhika and I. Like his grandmother, the kid has definitely been creative since his childhood and is rather amazing at it for his age. He’s just 9 years old. It brought a bit of smile on my face.
Slowly, I approached his bed, thinking about what to say to him, what to tell him. I moved closer towards him and pulled a chair near his bed so that I could look right at his face. I just wanted to watch him sleep peacefully. However, peaceful isn’t the manner how he dozed off, surely. I noticed a single drop of his tears still stuck on the left of his nose. Seeing this, I wiped it off gently and slowly. He didn’t wake up, rather was sound asleep.
Peace of mind
A few thoughts came across my mind. I wanted to tell him all of them. Irrespective of what he’d think or believe, I just wanted to tell him all that I had in my heart, that day.
“Son, I know you’re disheartened and disappointed today. Not the best of your days. I know that, all you asked me for was a school excursion trip with your friends. Kid, this trip is no problem to me at all if we talk about finances. But the only reason I denied you for your trip is your safety, immaturity and your age. You’re just 9. It requires an elder person along with you when you go for such trips, probably a teacher or someone related. But when you told me that the trip isn’t official at all and the eldest person in the group is a student of 12th grade, it definitely didn’t look like an ideal trip.
Son, the last thing that I’d want for you is sadness or disappointment, but sometimes I’m bound to become the bearer of both, just in order to clear the paths for you and keep you safe. You can’t imagine how happy your mother and I were, when you were born. I wasn’t able to believe it when I was holding you in my hands. All I could do that time was, look at you continuously till your mother interrupted and said “HEY, WASSUP?” You are most precious to us, kid. Holding you in my hand that day, I promised your mother that no matter what happens, I’ll protect you and be with you till you grow a bit old and no longer need both. When I said no to you for this trip, I did it to protect you and nothing else. I’m sure you’ll understand it someday just as I understood it today, due to which I respect my father even more, now. Thanks for that.
I can never watch you cry. Every droplet of tears that leaves your eyes, stings me like a thorn. But I’m not at liberty to show it. The only reason why I stand hard and strong in front of you is so that you build yourself to be far better than me, someday. I’ll help you out to the best of my capabilities.
You are the only reason for whom we’re doing what we’re doing. We live and earn for you, so that you get a bright future and you don’t have to fight like us for your bread.
I’d love to see a day when you turn into a handsome and elegant man, fully capable to carry yourself and the others along with you. I along with your mother would love to sit in a car bought by you, with you driving it and us taking rest at the back seat. I along with your mother would love to see you getting married someday, to someone who you love and then us being grandparents to your kids. I’d love to die a death before which I could tell you how much I’ve loved you all my life.
I don’t know what you might have thought about me today, as this was the first time ever that I slapped you. I hope you’ll be fine by the morning. Despite today’s incidence, I want you to know that you are and will forever be my best and most valuable creation in this world.”
But I realized that I said none of this out loud.
I got up from the chair, all teary eyed. I went close to his face, kissed him on his left cheek and whispered in his left ear “I’m sorry, Nirnay. Papa loves you the most. Good Night.”
As I turned back to put the chair back to its rightful place, I found Radhika standing at the entrance of Nirnay’s room, smiling at me. I walked towards her and kissed her on her forehead.
“Thank you, for bringing him into our life.”
“Oh! You’re welcome dear.” She said, smirking a bit. “I see, you apologized.”
“Sometimes, Apologies are just not enou….” I said but was interrupted as she placed her finger on my lips, signaling I had said enough.
And she suddenly presented me with holiday passes for a Kerala trip. “It is for three of us and three other families which has Nirnay’s friends too.” Radhika mentioned proudly.
“And you booked this right now?” I asked surprisingly, still trying to bring myself to pace with Radhika’s proactive nature.
“Of course, did you not expect me to have some back-up ready?” said she, taunting me.
“What would I be without you?” I asked in a thank you mode.
“I don’t know about that, but together we’re awesome” saying this, she kissed me on my cheek.
“Don’t you want to sleep? We have a surprise to give to our son in the morning.” She asked, in a taunting manner.
“After you, Ma’am” I Smiled.