Father’s Day Special Stories: Parents are often unaware how their behaviour impacts their kids.
Rajiv entered his daughter Radhika’s room. He was looking for a pencil to solve the Hindu crossword – his favorite past time on Sunday morning. Radhika had gone with her mother Shanti to Pune to her grandpa’s place. Her school had closed for the summer holidays for two months.
As Rajiv looked around he saw the end of a pencil sticking out from the pages of a red book. He picked it up. It was a diary not much bigger than his palm. He flipped open the page where the pencil was. In Radhika’s neat and tidy handwriting were written the following words:
Date: 2nd April, 2000
I am going to Nana’s place for the summer holidays. I’ll come back and tell you everything that happened.
He flipped through a few more pages and then walked out of the room, diary in hand. He sat in the arm chair and began reading from the beginning.
Today my favorite teacher – Chitra maa’m gave you to me. You know why. Because I got the first rank. “Radhika, I am giving this diary to you for a very special reason. This diary is like a friend – a person you can trust. You can write whatever you want – whenever you want. The diary will be there whenever you need it.”
So I decided dear diary I’ll make you my best friend. But a best friend should have a name so I am naming you Akruti. I hope you like it. I’ll write to you as often as I can. Let me begin right now.
Date: 28th August, 2000
Hi! I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I am Radhika. I am studying in class 4A of Rosary Convent High School. I am very good in studies but hopeless in sports. The only game I play is chess in which I am quite okay. My papa taught me how to play chess. One day I beat him and for the next seven days I got a chocolate ice-cream. That was long back when I was in class one. Papa was different then. I can hear mummy calling me for dinner.
Bye for now,
Date: 19th September 2000
Today in school there was an elocution competition. The topic had been announced yesterday – ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. I wrote my speech. I thought I’ll show it to Papa. He is very good in English. I waited for him till ten and then went to bed. I spoke quite well but came second. Alice of class 4B stood first. Had my Papa helped me out with the speech I would surely have won the first prize……
Date: 22nd December, 2000
I am sorry I couldn’t write all these days. I had my exams. I think I did quite well. The results will be out early next month. But exams apart there were other things which kept me worried.
Let me begin by telling you about my Papa and his problem. My Papa is working in a bank. He is tall, well built and fair. He looks like a film hero – at least he used to. Now he looks different. Earlier he used to laugh and play with me and tell me stories. He was so good at telling stories – specially ghost stories. I simply loved the way his expressions changed as he went about acting like a ghost or a vampire.
But all this was before he started drinking. Earlier he used to always insist that we have dinner together. On the dining table he would tell us about his day in the bank. There was always some funny incident or the other which would have me and mummy laughing. I would talk about my school and mummy would tell us something interesting which she had read or seen on the TV.
But after Papa started drinking everything changed. Now he often comes home late, after I have gone to bed. The next morning his eyes are red and he is in a bad mood. Mummy hates him drinking. And now they have frequent fights – all because of his drinking. Of late he has even started drinking at home. The other day Binu mausi was telling Mummy that Papa has become an alco….alcoholic. I didn’t know what the word meant. I looked it up in the dictionary. It means someone who cannot stop drinking.
On the night before my last exam I woke up with a start. I had dreamt that my parents were fighting. I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. It was 12.15. All was quiet. I was about to go back to sleep when I heard my father shouting. I got up from the bed and went to the bed room door.
My parents were in the living room. Papa was yelling at mummy and she was sitting on the sofa and crying. Papa could barely stand. He looked so horrible, with his hair in a mess and his shirt crumpled. Mummy told him something which I could not hear. He picked up the blue flower vase which mummy and I had bought from Khan market and hurled it on the ground. It shattered into tiny pieces.
“I don’t care what happens to you or anyone else. It is my money and I’ll do what I want with it,” Papa yelled.
I ran back to the bed and pulling the quilt over me lay shivering. I started praying. That was the only thing I could do. I prayed and prayed. I don’t know when I slept but when I woke up my eyes were burning and I felt feverish.
I’ll stop writing now. It is ten and I can hear mummy coming to switch off the lights.
Date: 2nd March, 2001
Yesterday I had gone to Lalita’s birthday party. She is Raman Uncle’s daughter and lives in the next lane. When I came back it was nine. The verandah gate was open. I went in. I heard a sound and I froze. This was one sound I hadn’t heard in months or is it years. It was the sound of my father laughing. Now my Papa, when he laughs he really laughs. He throws his head back and you can almost hear the laughter building up in his tummy and rising to his chest, throat and then splitting his face into a dozen smiles.
I was surprised. I hadn’t heard him laugh for so long. The curtains of the living room were drawn. I gently pulled the curtain a few inches and peeped. My papa and mummy were sitting on the large sofa. Mummy said something and Papa laughed again and seeing his reaction she too started laughing. They looked so nice laughing together…
I don’t know how long I stood there. I didn’t want this scene to end – ever. You know this morning my classmate Sweta asked me, “Radhika which is your favourite ice cream?” And then both of us together said, “Chocolate.”
“Since we both said chocolate at the same time we should make a wish.”
“Why?” I asked.
“If two friends say a word together and make a wish, it will come true.”
So I closed my eyes and made a wish.
“I wished God would make me the owner of the biggest chocolate factory in the world. What did you wish for?” Sweta asked me. Just then the bell rang and I was saved. I did not want to share my secret with Sweta.
Can you guess Akruti what I had wished for? No. Then I’ll tell you. I closed my eyes and prayed. “Dear God I have only one wish. Last evening I saw my parents laughing together. Please God let Mummy and Papa always be like this. Let there always be laughter in my house.”
Naani used to tell me that God loves children the most. I hope God will grant me my wish. He will, won’t he? What do you think Akruti?
Rajiv closed the diary and leaned back. His eyes were wet. After some time he got up and picking up the receiver started dialing.
“Hello Jaaved. Rajiv here. Some time back you were mentioning about a De-addiction center. Do you have the telephone number?”
Two months later, on a Sunday morning Radhika was looking out of the train compartment. The train had just come to a halt. As she scanned the faces she saw him.
“Papa,” she yelled.
He turned and his face broke into a grin as he saw her.
“Mummy, Papa has come,” Radhika announced.
Ten minutes later they were driving towards home. Radhika looked at her Papa. He was looking happy and relaxed – like old times.
When Radhika entered the living room she expected it to be in a mess. But to her surprise it was spic and span. Everything was in its place. She looked at Shanti. Her mummy was looking wide eyed all around. Together they surveyed the entire house. It was as neat as the living room. Rajiv was watching them, an amused smile on his face.
Shanti opened the cabinet and looked inside.
“Ra…Rajiv. I can’t believe this?”
“Believe what dear?
“The house is so neat and tidy. There is not a single bottle of whisky or beer or any other drink in the cabinet?”
“Yes, and you will never again find that stuff in our home.”
“It’s….. it’s a miracle. How…how did it happen?”
“A little angel made a wish and the Lord above granted it,” Rajiv said and picking up Radhika hugging her tight.
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