“Deepak, what are you doing standing near the window for half an hour now?” Asha’s voice broke my reverie as I looked away from the heavy downpour outside. An imprint had formed where I had pressed my palm against the glass window. This imprint would dry off in no time, but not the one that had been made in my heart. No, that imprint was there to stay, to haunt me forever.
Today was my last day with the company. My decision had shocked many and earned loads of disapproval. Many senior members of the management had tried to talk me out of it. They did not want to lose an employee who had been instrumental for the company’s growth from a small budding venture into an international entity. But nothing that anyone would say could shake me off my decision. I had to do it. Do it for Sweety. I knew Sweety would have jumped in joy if she knew of my decision. As this thought struck me, my eyes started brimming with tears.
“Appa, will you come early and play with me in rain at least today?” The innocence in that voice did something to my heart. I knew there was no other go but to tell a downright lie. “Sure my darling!!! Appa will come early and then we’ll play to our hearts’ content!” The 1000 watts smile on my daughter Sweety’s face was worth the lie. But then, I had not known at that time that this would be the last lie I would be telling her.
After waiting in vain for her loving father to come and play with her, my darling motherless daughter had decided to step into the rain by herself. Prancing around, splashing in the puddles, she had unknowingly moved to the adjacent street. Neither had she noticed the increase in the level of water in that street, nor seen the small whirl in water a few feet away from where she was. The whirl of water being sucked inside an open manhole.
I had been in a meeting when an urgent phone call came. Call from my neighbor telling that my daughter had fallen into an open manhole. I had frozen. Even tears refused to come out of my eyes. My heart was tearing itself to pieces. My mind was shouting aloud, “If only you had been with her…. at least today.”
In the days that followed, I mechanically completed all the rites. But the voice in my mind had only grown stronger. Sweety had loved me so much. She had always wanted me to spend time with her. But I had been to busy with my work. I had left her with the old servant maid when I should have been there for her. And the irony was, I had felt good about it. Felt good that I am earning for my child. I had thought I am doing this for her good. Only, I had been too wrong. And Sweety had chosen to make me realize it in a fatal manner.
“What are your further plans Deepak?” Asha had been asking me for I don’t know how many number of times now. I decided today was the day to tell her. And I did. “I have joined an orphanage Asha. I am going to be with those children full time. As their father, their teacher, guide, playmate or whatever they want me to be. And this way I will forever stay near my Sweety.”