“Baba…” She screamed in fright closing shut her eyes bumping on that invisible, transparent wall. The storm was gaining momentum…! The cyclonic destructive roaring storm was closing on her from all sides. Any time the storm would engulf her…! Her knees gave way. She collapsed waiting for her last moment. She didn’t even know how that moment would come…!
She felt a strong hand on her shoulder and jumped up in his protective arms. He picked her up patting on her back. She held on to him locking her arms around his neck.
“Open your eyes…!” he whispered. She shook her head not wanting to see the destruction all around. “Open your eyes… and see the world..!” he again said wrapping his arm around her. She hesitantly opened her eyes to see the butterflies and rainbows all around. She looked around in disbelief. “Baba…!” she hid her face on his shoulder. He turned his back on the rainbow for her to see the beauty. She looked at the world mesmerized over his shoulder. He brought her out to explore….!
“What was that?” she asked bewildered, not finding the smallest trace of the destruction…. He had taken it head on, on his chest and brought in the best of the world for her. “Baba?” she asked him clutching around his neck. He looked at her smiling. He still had his back on the beauty of the world….
“Nothing..!” he said putting her down. She walked out of that invisible protective wall in the beautiful world…!
****** ***** ******
“Shuuu…. stop it! Behave yourself…!” reprimanded her mother in that classy restaurent… She ignored and continued playing around… Her father kept a watchful eye on her… her mother tried to hold her hand and make her sit at one place, looking around sheepishly. She was a brat… her mother kept on warning her and the inevitable happened. She toppled the table brinding down everything laid on it…. Her mother yelled in anger… he got up with a jerk and picking her up in his protective arms asked… “Are you hurt?” She looked at the mess around and cried in guilt.
“Its ok!” he said stroking her head, gesturing the staff to clean it up. She looked at his face and he smiled faintly. “I am sorry…!” she was really sorry for what she had done. His assuring gaze said it all.
***** ******* ******
“I know… he will come… he will never let me down…!” she was mutterring, pacing away from her group of friends.
“He won’t come now… Come on! Let us plan something else…!” one of her friends pulled her into the group again. “No!” he will come. She looked at the time. It was too late…!
“Its too late… we would miss it anyway…!” her friend said practically laying the board. Her eyes filled with the feeling of let down… and the bell rang. She dashed to open the door… there he was with the movie tickets and a hugh box of her favorite plum cake.
“Baba…!” she hugged him happily and he took her inside. Her birthday party was the best one. She had slept peacefully surrounded by all the gifts, boxes, baloons, toys and stars glittering all around. Away from her room, in his bedroom her mother was mending his wounds … he had had an accident while coming from the office with all her wish list fulfilled.
“I know you can convince her… She can do really well if she takes up this course…!” her mother was trying to convince him. He shook his head solemnly… “No.. I won’t impose my decision on her… Let her decide… though I would like her to take up this line…!” A broad smile appeared on her face. Finally she was allowed to do what she wanted to… Her mother was not happy but she didn’t oppose….! She had decided to work hard, to prove herself and make her Baba a proud father….!
“Baba…!” she looked down not able to bear her father’s gaze. “I want to do it…!” she gathered her courage…! “No way… you are not doing that play… not with the boys… ” Mother ranted. “Look at our social status… what will people say… you are not doing theatre… not in my lifetime… ” Mother went on. She had no words to convince her mother. She had taken part and won many prizes as best actress in her school. But in the college? No way! her mother would never allow her to do theatre. Her conservative family wouldn’t accept…!
“Are you sure, you want to do this?” Father asked finally. “Ye..Yes!” she said looking up.
“Yeah.. She wants to do this… apply that gaudy makeup… dance on the stage… with some strangers… and bring fame to the family…” mother went out of bound in rage. “B..But they are not strangers… they are all my classmates… we are participating in the competition…!” she said weakly, aware that her mother is not going to buy this argument….
“Ok!” father said and her mother’s mouth fell open. “What? Are you allowing her to…wh.. what will others…” her mother gave a pale, shocked look. He nodded. “Yes..! I trust her…! She is not a wayward adolescent…!” She jumped with joy. “Baba.. I promise…I won’t let you down…!” she promised….!
“Now That is your family and she is your mother…But remember… this house is always yours…!” were his parting words when he gave her hand in her mother in laws hands and her baraat left her house. The two families merged with the weblock and she was showered with the love of two families ….!
With every oncoming rough and hostile storm, she remembered the butterflies and rainbows her father had shown her taking the storm on his chest and protecting her in his arms….! He gave her the strength of withstand the rough patches, the bumpy roads…!
“Life is the series of rude awakening…!” He always quoted Bartram Russel..! He made her tough enough to open her eyes of this rude awakening…..!
“Mother… why are you crying?” her son asked her cupping her face. “Grandfather never showed his sorrows on his face, we never saw him depressed, …!” her son turned her face to show her hospitalized, ailing father. “Look at him, Mumma…! He is still smiling…. with that Nasogastric Ryle tube… as if its tickling him inside…! Look at him mother… !” her son showed his smiling face even in the ICU, in that semi conscious state…!” She looked on… his shrivelled face was still so assuring that a sense of being protected brought a faint smile on her face.
“He would never like it, mother… he always looked at the brighter side, leaving the shadows behind…!” her teenage son brought her to his bed. She couldn’t bear his piecered body with IV needles and tubes…!
“Look at him, Mumma… he is smiling… thinking about some funny incident…!” her son pulled her. She touched his cheeks with tears rolling down her cheeks but her lips smiling…!
“Mumma…. he always smiled… even in his distress… !” her son wiped her tears….
“Bu… but I can’t face the world without his protection…!” she cried silently feeling weak and vulnerable.
“Your protection was his soul, mother… he has already given you and Mamu that protection….! you and your brother… my Mamu have a part of his soul… and me too…! He has given you the legacy…. !” her son held her tightly. She felt the same protective arms of her father… She felt his soul in her son….! His legacy was carried to her son….!
“Yes… !” she wiped her tears with determination… “Why do you think I would cry when he is in me…He is always with me…. Always….!” and she smiled…
The monitor gave a long beep to indicate his last breath….! She still had a smile… his soul had given her the strength to be prepared for that series of rude awakening….!
His freed soul…. must be waiting for another series of rude awakening…. called life…! His lifeless frail face was still smiling….!!