Family Short Story - Father and Son
Most relationships are well documented. Father and Son however, share a camaraderie which is limited to bollywood movies of 70s and 80s where evil son ends up tricking his old and naive dad, or a trickster father passing his genes and skills to his son. Basically, father-son relationships historically find little space in fantasyland.
“Only 10 rupees? I cant even buy a chocolate with this papa!” i complained to my dad on receiving my petty, so-called pocket money. Even in class 7, I had friends who received more everyday than i got in an entire month!
But he was unmoved. “Dont eat too many chocolates anyways, not good for you. Eat your tiffin that mumma has packed for you. Now go.”
I got out of the car, sulking with a 10rs note in my hand and watching him drive his sedan out of the school compound.
’10 * 30 * 12 is 3600. 3600 * 50 is equal to 180000. So even if my father gives me the same pocket money for 50 years, it only becomes Rs.1lac and 80 thousand! And he bought a car for double than that for himself last month!” I did a mental calculation while going to my class. I still hated him for the meagre amount.
Class 12th. After studying and partying equally hard, I somehow got a decent 85% score in the exams that mattered the most – CBSE boards! I re-checked my scores on CBSE website at his home-cum-office desktop when he walked in the room.
“I got 85%! how cool is that?” i smiled and announced to him.
“Congratulations. This should get you a good college in Delhi University no?” he asked.
“No papa. I want to do a Business Program from IP University.”
“But beta having a DU degree is more reputed after all.”
“NO. I have made up my mind…” and walked off to announce my result to the rest of the house.
Couple of weeks later, he handed me the hefty bank-draft for fees of the private college I had chosen.
“I have got job offers from Stan-C, Citibank, Deutsche Bank and even Barclays! Wow.” I returned home and informed him, as he was reading at his desk. I had almost finished my MBA and was about to get into the corporate world.
“Thats very nice. So which one would you choose?” he asked.
He looked at me with confusing eyes. “Why??”
“I dont know. I…I want to become a writer. Earlier I thought I’d work for a few years and then start, but now I am thinking why not now?” said I.
“Hmm. You must follow your heart, always. But beta, your education must also not go waste. You are just finishing your MBA so you can still work for a while.”he said.
“No, I wont. I’d rather work on something right away”
He silently nodded.
I came home with a girl. She and I had been a pair since college, and now we had decided to take it further. I introduced her to my mother, “Mom, I brought her home especially to meet you.”
“She is so lovely. Wait I will call your dad also.” she said excitedly.
“What would he do or say mom? You just sit na and talk to her and get to know her.”
My father was in the other room but he might have heard this conversation so didnt come out.
Five years passed. I got married and almost settled in life. I couldnt make it big yet as an author but continued to earn decently through enough freelance assignments and basically, whatever comes my way.
That morning however, I found out that my father suffered from an acute lung problem. We had to hospitalize him urgently. Doctor told us that the treatment, if successful, would cost us dear so we better arrange as much cash-liquidity as we could.
I was standing outside the room where he was admitted, talking to my mom. “Where does he keep all the money?” i asked her.
“He has none, no savings except for the house” she broke down.
“What?? How is it possible? The business was doing good..and..and..” I couldnt believe my ears. Even though middle-class, I always knew my father to be a well-off man.
“The business started declining around the time you were passing out from school. But dad didnt want me to share anything with you. He even sold off the ancestral property to pay for your college and then MBA.” she kept weeping.
“Why dont you guys tell me anything!” i shouted at her.
“Dad didnt want to. His brothers kept saying this to him that now your son has become an MBA so he will get a good job and things would improve financially. However when you chose not to, he decided not to impose it on you. Infact he told me that since your career choice is an unconventional and even a low-paying one, we must keep you unaware of the financial woes even more.” and she got up and went away to the ladies room.
I kept thinking, ‘was my relationship with my father a stained one? why did he never shared his problems with me? how did he lose everything like this?’ and similar questions continued to haunt me as i dozed off.
He finally got discharged from the hospital this morning. He may not have realized it but almost 7-8 months have passed. We are all very happy nevertheless, as me and mom came to the hospital to take him home, while his daughter-in-law is busy preparing nicest of dishes there. A smile appeared on his face as he steps out from the car, staring at his house after a long, long time.
As he opens the main gate, he calls my mother. “Dear, what happened to my office here?” his home-cum-office is nowhere to be seen. It was a small make-shift room in our verandah, and had been there ever since I could remember.
I coaxed him, “relax papa. lets go in.”
Once inside and settled on the lounge sofa, he again brought the question up.
I told him, “We had to move it from here.”
“What do you mean we had to move it? to where?” he was puzzled.
“Well we had to move to a nearby commercial complex to accommodate our 12 employees!” I casually answered.
He looked at my mom in disbelief.
I answered on her behalf, “I looked into your accounts and your area of consultation. Somehow I could relate it to some of the courses of my MBA. So i just persuaded your old clients and they gave business again. A lot of orders came in so I moved it to a bigger office space.”
“What about your writing, your aspiration to become an author?” he asked, getting a little emotional but still surprised.
“I gave it up papa. That was important to me, no doubt. But you are more important than them or any other thing in this world.” i said and became emotional myself.
My father got up and hugged me, probably for the first time since I was a ten-year old.