Papa’s Little Girl

Paraaya Dhan

People say “beti paraayi hoti hai”, this beti actually became “paraayi” on 10th February 2018. 2 years of marriage and I wasn’t allowed to go home to meet my parents alone once, which was hardly 15 minutes away from my husband’s place, the only place in the world, where I was smiled at, talked to with love, a home I could still call mine. Thanks to Bhai-dooj that I could go for a day amongst the 10 days that I came to Kolkata for, every year. Unfortunately, that single day went past so fast at maasi and maama’s place that I never got time to be at home with my parents. Visit after visit, this kept on happening and all I did was crib when I came back to Hyderabad. People go back to their parents every week and every month, still tell me how less they go home, imagine my position!

After about 2 years of my marriage I got the courage to come back home without having to go anywhere but MY HOME! I landed in Kolkata with my brother who had the same story of not coming here to our parents for the last 2 years. We had planned this surprise for our parents, who very well deserved this, about a month in advance and kept it a secret from the entire world. It was difficult for sure, but with him, I managed. The evening flight got delayed a couple of times and we reached home at 2 in the morning instead of the initially planned arrival at 9 in the evening. Went straight home and rung the bell. There was no response. Kept on ringing the bell for more than 5 long minutes outside the main door of the house in the silence of the night. No one opened. Called papa on the phone for some seconds before ringing the doorbell again, so that his sleep breaks and he could hear the call bell of the main gate. No use!

After say around 7-10 minutes of standing there with my camera still shooting a video of my parent’s reaction as they opened the door, we heard our maa shout from inside – “kaun hai?” It was a scared voice, hoping to get a familiar voice in return. Our hearts started pacing faster as we now knew that someone was awake and we won’t be outside for a very long time. But we did not answer back. She asked again a couple of times before she opened the gate and saw my brother in front of her. Among all the nice moments of my life, this was the most recent one! She hugged my bhaiya while I swept inside from the side of the hugging mom-son duo. I saw my papa lying on bed almost all asleep. I said “Papa, utho yaar, is time pe kaun sota hai?” and he opened his eyes on hearing my voice. I could see a sweet confusion on his face while his eyes were fighting amongst themselves to open or to shut and sleep.

I continued “Papa, dekho toh kaun laaya hai humko Hyderabad se….Manu aaya hai” and he opened his eyes at once and sat down looking around for bhaiya. And there he was with maa and me and the kind of happiness I saw on papa’s face was something I had seen after a very very long time now. They came to Hyderabad in October last year for Diwali but it’s not the same. They stay at bhaiya’s place mostly and whenever they are at mine, they would act formal thinking that it was their daughter’s sasural. I tried to make them feel home, but I guess they have been raised in society where to feel normal, it required a long time and a lot of effort. Four of us came to the living room and sat there looking at each other, just trying hard to figure out what is dream and what is reality. We smiled and hugged each other so many times, maybe just to assure ourselves that this was real. Papa in particular was so happy that night that he danced and moon-walked with us at around 5 in the morning. We were having chae-biscuit like it was some 5ish in the evening. It is the happiest memory I have in the last couple of years, nothing close to this beautiful thing has happened to me in ages now. These last couple of years had been bitter and rough on everyone in my family but now it all seemed good. Talking about how they would have never imagined what had just happened to them, they had brimmed their eyes with some happy tears here and there. In these hours we had made numerous plans of where we all would go and what we all would do, etc.

We came back on Sunday morning and papa started feeling sick since Sunday night after a hearty game of cards with my maternal family (which was a tradition in my family to sit and play cards and have fun every Sunday evening). But papa is papa, he went to work on Monday morning in a condition when I would stay in bed all day and eat my favourite things because I was sick. Maybe because he had some others plans working inside like ‘I need to get payments from the parties now’, ‘I need to work harder now’, ‘I need to take my children there’, ‘I need to buy them this’ and an unending list of things he would have made by now. Monday ended with a higher fever and by Wednesday our family doctor had to visit him twice. On Thursday, we woke up to see him unconscious, chanting “Hare Ram ji, Mere Prabhu ji”. Even after an hour of trying to get a meaningful response from him, we failed and on calling the doctor, he told us to take him to a specific hospital which was some half an hour from our house. Maa called the ambulance and it took them another forever to come. Meanwhile we were all trying to talk to him and get something more than a “Ramji” from his mouth. Failed!

Emergency ward it was and outside we were all shocked, anticipating what could have happened to him so suddenly in the past few days. I have been to hospital when I was approximately 8 years old because of a double disease – jaundice & typhoid. Post that I went to Neotia Hospital in 2012, to get the best gift of my life from bhabi, my little nephew. This was the third time and I was bewildered in a scary way. I never sat in an ambulance before with a pounding heart, pacing up and down for someone who was my life. I had just seen 5 people lifting my papa and getting him into the vehicle because he could not get up. 29 years of my life, I had seen him lifting me up effortlessly, so I could not come in terms with what I had just seen and experienced. For hours we waited outside the emergency ward before he was transferred to ITU (Intensive Treatment Unit) at around 6 in the evening. At 7 the doctor was supposed to come and check him up. At 8.30 we came to know about so many issues that he has had inside him for years together. We heard medical terms we weren’t aware, existed and prayed every second for his recovery.

He was still unconscious and we had a lot of questions inside. The doctor patiently entertained all our questions and in hope for a better tomorrow, we went home. All we wanted that next day was to see papa back in senses wishing us Good Morning in the way he always used to. Trust me to be unbiased in this, but I have never seen or heard anyone wishing anything so merrily in my life. He reminded me of school days when he called me in office on a weekday afternoon wishing me “Good Afternoon Beta!” I always smiled at his childish wishes, lighting up my whole mundane work day at office. We reached the hospital before time in the hope of meeting papa as soon as we could, but the strict, almost heartless gate keepers kept us from entering the gates before the doctor’s arrival. At almost 11.30ish, when we were allowed to get inside those scary gates, I saw papa sitting upright, wishing me “Good Morning Beta!”

I felt like hugging him so tight at that very moment, like no one had ever hugged anyone before. Then started a series of Whys and Hows for he could not figure out why he was there among the other patients in a hospital. Same questions to everyone in the urge to get a convincing reply, he was relieved to see us all there.

It is funny how the so-called rational and logical people starts praying desperately to an unknown power in the hope that, that never seen before supreme power would make everything alright. Days passed by and our routine was to get up and rush to hospital, come home and have a brunch, do our daily activities and rush back to hospital in the evening to see how papa was doing. The doctor would come at around 8 and tell us his progress and we were all ears. We would have met him in the visiting hours from 5-6 p.m. wherein he would be mostly on sedatives and the in-house doctors would refuse to answer our questions. So those 3 to 4 hours, we would be in suspense for how much was he improving every minute.

Coming weekend, my husband rushed back to Kolkata to see papa. It was not just his duty as a son-in-law that he was doing, but the kind of love both of them had for each other all these years, made him willingly do that. Saturday morning when papa saw him in the hospital, he became all excited and asked him about his well-being in a state of illness himself. The typical “Jamaai” treatment he got from papa was a topic of amusement for all of us everytime and this time was no different. Soon next week after a 7 day stay at the hospital, he came back home with us. The doctor told us clearly that he was not in a very good state and that, what happened to him last week may repeat in the near future, maybe a month or two after. He was to be on a strict diet with a lot of medication and lower salt levels. I strongly told him to adhere to everything I said from now on so that he becomes fit at the earliest. Bhaiya and I discussed that we would now not leave him here in Kolkata and that as soon as he is better, bhaiya would again come to Kolkata to take us all back to Hyderabad and in the meanwhile I would stay with my parents and make sure he recovered soon…..

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