I can’t remember the last time that I met my father. He was an alcoholic and was abusive. I don’t remember much of him as I was only 3 when my mother decided to run away, but the parts I do recall are highly troubling
I remember when in 2012 I visited my aunt’s for Diwali. When I reached their place everyone acted in a suspicious way around me. I soon realized why. My father was standing in the living room of the house with his wife and son. It was like the entire world had shifted from beneath my feet. Only one thought remained in my head 11 years!! 11 years!! Something clicked in me and I ran to the adjoining room and began to cry. It took me a while but I got myself together and by this time everyone assembled outside around the bonfire. I went outside, and ignored him for the rest of the night.
Finally, he spoke to me, but didn’t say what I wanted him to say. He started by blaming my mother for running away, said that he always wanted to meet me but my grandparents never allowed. He went on and on about how he had the perfect future planned out for me but my mother was always too proud to accept help.
Outside, I was calm. I didn’t look him in the eye and faced downwards contemplating my response. Inside, I was dying or at least a part of me was.
How could you?
How dare you?
I wanted to enlighten him with the truth to tell him that mom always spoke so highly of him, and after all this time is single. I needed him to know that when my mother had no job and nowhere to live my grandparents took us in and have cared for us ever since. I wanted him to know that mom always wanted me to meet my father but because I was so scared of what I remembered I never let her. I wanted him to know that when children in school would ask me my father’s name I told them my uncle’s name not because I had to but because he was the only stable father figure in my life. That after 11 years of never meeting his daughter the least he could do was apologize.
I didn’t utter a word; all I did was sit there like a statue. After a long minute of painful silence I got up and left without saying a word. I took a cab and reached the place my mother was staying and told her about my little reunion.
I have always taken pride in the fact that I am a very expressive and verbose individual. I am known for my stands, it may be a gender discrimination issue in my school or anything else. That day I failed. I verbalize continuously but when it mattered the most I was unable to do so. I then promised myself that someday I would tell him.
Last year, I received the news of my father’s death. Mom mourned. I couldn’t stand the gloomy atmosphere so I just slipped outside my house and went to a secluded place. I knew what I was supposed to feel- sorrow, but how could I mourn a man I never knew? Instead, I felt anger. I was angry because now I would never be able to tell him how I felt. I had failed once again.
I don’t know if I have overcome this failure yet but I know that some day in the not so distant future I will. This entire experience made me question myself, the most dominating question being the ‘What if?”. At one point I thought that maybe my silence was a divine intervention of sorts, but then I realized that denying my failure and cowardice wasn’t going to change its nature. The idea isn’t to let go and move on, but to hold back and accept failure.
I hope someday in the not so distant future, I will be able to do just that.