Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Wait

There he was, standing with a jute bag in his right hand; bleary-eyed, as if they had seen a lifetime gone in front of them. His left hand held onto a round pebble, which he kept turning and tossing in his palm. His anxiousness was quite evident from his feet, which seemed to be hesitantly approaching me. I stood where I was. It was a long wait for me. My feet were caught in a fix, in a dilemma of whether I should move ahead or turn back. Why should I meet him? Because he was my father. Or because he killed my mother.

Memories of my childhood flashed before me. How dear was he to me? My parents seemed to be the best gift God could bestow upon me. But I don’t know when their love for each other turned into hate. Pretending to be asleep, I used to overhear their altercations, some of which ended in screams and groans, of both kinds. The next day, mother would be bruised, with bloody scars on her face, which when questioned, she would be quick with her reply, ‘Ask your Dad,’ to which he kept mum. When one winter morning, I found a blood-stained dead body of the most familiar woman in my life, my life’s course changed forever. My father was sitting just next to her clay, holding a bloody knife in his hand, with face as numb as his life and tears as dry as his face. I could not believe the sight. Screaming, I scrambled out on the road, bare-footed and my outcry called the neighbours around. Two days later, I was with my maternal grandmother and my father was nothing more than a stain in my memory. My curiosity could not subside though. I wanted to ask him, ‘Why did you kill my mother? What wrong had she done to you?’ but I had no other choice other than to wait.

The wait took its time. Twenty years later, when I saw him standing ten meters away from me at the Jail gate, with eyes seeking compassion, I felt numb. I was so full of hatred against him all these years that I never ever bothered to know how he was, whether he was alive or had he shared my mother’s grave. But that day, I don’t know what took me there. Perhaps, I was searching for the answer to my question. The answer whose wait seemed to be killing me from within.

The faint recollection of his face seemed to exactly match the features of the man who was standing in front of me. Only wrinkles distorted them a bit. As he neared me, his hair shone in the sun, most of them had turned grey. He looked withered and tortured. The beard seemed to be years old but the lips still had the same softness that they carried when lullabies came from them. He took another step, the sun lit up his tired face, a pool of tears stood on the edge of his eye-lid, as though they had waited for me all the while to trickle down.

One foot away from me, his feet came to a stand-still. It seemed like he wanted me to reciprocate. I stared at him blankly. He tried to smile, but could not succeed. Out of courtesy, I smiled back just to make him feel easy, but didn’t realize that his pool of tears induced some wetness on my face too. He held my hands into his, his rough fingers seemed to be telling me how tough all these years had been for him. Suddenly, a pulse of hatred overtook me. The image of blood-stained corpse of my mother in my mind gave me a collapse. Shivering, I got rid of his hands, while my ears went red in vehemence, and in a fit of anger, I shouted, ‘Why did you kill my mother? What wrong had she done to you?’

‘She killed your mother.’ He said, lifted his right hand and shot himself from inside the jute bag.

Two minutes later, my right hand held his rough fingers while my left-hand was clung to a round pebble tightly, with no movements at all. My face was as numb as his 'death' and tears, as dry as his face, twenty years ago. The wait was finally over.

P.S. Please comment, I would really value it.