The shudder from the sudden cold brought her back to consciousness. She had stayed up all night, working on her thesis. This was the first time she had slumbered on her study table. Inadequacy of caffeine, she guessed and went on for some more. It was an exceptionally cold afternoon. She went to her balcony, hoping to catch a few feeble rays of the dying Sun. A part of the gallery was strewn with wet lifeless leaves and buds. It rained, she assumed. The children in her neighborhood had just started coming out of their homes. It was quiet, except the occasional rattle of their bicycles, hesitant chirping of a pair of birds and the tolling of the bell in the temple near-by. A lot has changed since she first moved here with her mother. A few haphazard houses have turned into, what it seemed, a whole new world. Until last fall, she had perceived all of these changes in the company of her mother, over their evening cups of coffee. She was all by herself now. Probably, too changed herself, to perceive any change in the world around her.
The telephone-ring broke into her reverie. She went inside and received the call.
“Amy, he’s dead.”
She knew the voice. It was her aunt. She knew the ‘He’ too. It was her father.
“Come home, Amy. At least now.” She was choking with tears. Amy’s had dried up already.
“When did it happen?” she asked, avoiding her aunt’s request.
“His car went off the road and collided with a rock. He was soaked in blood when the cops found him. ”
“Oh! Blood, for a change. It has always been alcohol.” she said apathetically.
“How can you be so heartless?!!”
Amy was quiet. Her aunt was obviously heart-broken. He was her only brother. Amy understood her pain. But not enough to console her for his death. Frankly, she couldn’t care less.
“Amy, your father loved you.”
“He loved his alcohol more.” Amy snapped. She heard her aunt sighing on the other end.
“Tomorrow is the funeral. You are coming, aren’t you?”
Amy paused for a while.
“I’ll see what I can do about that.”
“Don’t be so cold, honey. He was your father. I agree he has not been a good one. But still. It’s his funeral we’re talking about. You should be there.”
“I gotta go, Manny. You take care. Bye.”
Her aunt sighed again. “Bye, Amy.”
Amy hung up. She was benumbed. A long-standing pain dwelled within her. She didn’t live in the past. Nor let the past live within her. But it kept visiting. And she let it. She lied back on the couch. Dire memories tormented her mind with a gale-force. The ones, once hazy, seemed so vivid now. A wasted father, her father, assaulting his 9-year-old daughter. The only daughter. The cold wind blew again. She rubbed her hands against her arms for warmth, feeling patches of burn from the stub of her father’s ciggarette. There were lots of them. At lots of places. She had often thought of getting a tattoo to hide the burns. But then how many tattoos could she possibly get? Moreover, she got attached to her scars. They did remind her of the pain she has gone through. But at the same time, they also filled her heart with gratitude, for if it wasn’t for her mother, the situation could have been worse.
A part of her wanted to go and see her father for the one last time. The man who had a role in molding Amy into who she is today. The other one, was still brimming with disgust for molding into who she is today. Her father introduced her to hatred. But her mother taught her about the thin line between love and hatred. As she sat there, pondering over the reminiscences from the past, her eyes fell upon a photo-frame that lay on the table adjacent to her. It was a picture of her dad holding the one-day old Amy. She had seen the picture a million times before. But at that moment, for the first time, she saw something that she has missed for all those million times. She saw her father’s eyes. The two satiated eyes, filled with love and pride. His lips didn’t curve into a smile but his face certainly beamed with joy. It suddenly dawned upon her, that for over 14 years, she has been letting hatred win over love. so much so, that she had not let love register in her senses. All she saw, heard and thought of, was betrayal and hatred. She could not let that happen. She owed this to her mother. And to her father’s eyes, that never really reflected betrayal. All they spoke of, was love. It was the alcohol that changed his perspective momentarily.
The next morning, with the verse, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ” from Bible, she bade farewell to her father. Amy was transformed. Just a night before, she was brimming with hatred. Now, she was soaked in love.
PS. This post is written for Indiblogger’s ‘Surf Excel Matic #SoakNoMore Contest‘.