Revati was nervous while Dr. Reddy’s deft and nimble fingers were gently removing the bandages, the hard plastic shields, and the thick pads of cotton.
“There you are, dear, open your eyes very slowly, very slowly.” Revati could have mistaken the voice to be Amitabh Bachchan’s voice.
She was afraid to open her eyes.
‘Will it be painful? Whose face will I see first, mummy’s or Sharad’s? What if I still can’t see anything? What if the operation isn’t a success? What if the donor’s eyes didn’t suit me? What if the surgeon has botched the surgery? What if …?’ The endless chain of doubts plagued her frightened mind.
“Nothing to be afraid of, dear. Open your eyes slowly.” Again, Dr. Reddy’s comforting voice.
She nodded, almost imperceptibly, and began opening her eyes…
The eyes opened into millimetric slits.
“Aaah…,” cried Revati.
The brightness was too much for her.
“Easy, Revati, easy, there’s no hurry. Open them slowly,” Dr. Reddy coaxed.
After several attempts, Revati finally opened her eyes.
The curtains on the windows were drawn and a small, mild lamp illuminated the room. It took Revati several minutes to adjust to the ambient illumination.
“Hello, Revati, I am Dr. Reddy. Can you see me?”
Reflexively, she turned her head towards the source of the sound, the Amitabh Bachchan-like voice.
“You look like a ghost, doctor. It’s all hazy.”
The surgeon smiled. “Don’t worry; it will be like that for some more time. After all, you are seeing the world for the first time. Now, now, don’t cry. It’s not good for your eyes.” He gestured towards a nurse who gently wiped the tears with surgical cotton.
“Mummy, where are you?”
“I’m here, sweetheart.”
Saroja came into the blurred sight of her daughter and hugged her.
Minutes passed in silence.
“Look who else is here to see you,” Saroja said.
“Yes, dear, I am here. Can you see us?”
“Yes, but it is all hazy. You and mummy are beautiful. I am grateful to God.”
Revati was discharged. They were preparing to go home. She was sitting opposite Dr. Reddy in his chamber.
“I don’t know how to thank you, doctor. You’ve restored my sight. You’ve given me back my life.” Revati became emotional.
“Nothing of that sort, dear. I did my duty. I am glad that the surgery was a complete success. Take precautions as I advised. Make the best of life and realise your dreams. God bless you.”
Standing up to leave, Revati paused and wondered, “Will I ever know the angel who donated eyes to me, doctor?”
“Sorry, dear, rules do not permit it. Take care and come back for review check-ups. Bye.”
A day after Revati returned home…
“Mummy…” Revati shouted and stared unblinkingly at her mother.
“Sharad, hold her, make her sit.”
Sharad sat beside Revati on the sofa, while Saroja stood in front of them.
“Mummy…” Revati was still staring at her mother.
Saroja stood without sindoor on her forehead and flowers in her plait. Tears welled in her eyes as she spoke softly, almost in a whisper.
“Your father is no more, Revati.”
“Mummy, I told you not to …”
“Listen, Revati,” Saroja said firmly but gently. “He died a few days after his visit to our house and the fracas.”
Revati turned her face away noncommittally.
“Your father committed suicide.”
Revati looked at her mother aghast and exclaimed, “What?”
“Yes, he went into the bathroom of his hotel room and slit his wrists with a blade.”
Revati looked helplessly at her mother and Sharad alternately.
“But why, mummy?”
“He wrote a suicide note absolving everybody of responsibility.” Saroja paused. “He donated his eyes specifically to you. After completing the immediate formalities, the police informed Dr. Reddy’s hospital for the transplantation. He wished you and Sharad would marry soon and be happy. He said he loved me and begged my pardon for what he did to me, to us. We withheld all this from you on Dr. Reddy’s advice, because of the surgery.”
Saroja stood stoically not caring to wipe her tears.
“Mummy…” Revati failed to find words to speak.
“Sweetie, he left a letter for you,” said Saroja, handing a sheet of folded paper to her daughter.
“Don’t ever talk about him in front of me, mummy. I hate him,” yelled Revati angrily.
“You shouldn’t say that, darling, he is your father. He…” Saroja was rudely interrupted by her daughter.
“That was a biological accident, mummy. I am sorry to speak to you like this. He is dead, as far as I am concerned.”
“Revati, Revati…” Saroja tried to plead with Revati.
“No, mummy, he cannot be a part of our lives any longer. Remember, he deserted you and me years ago, we didn’t. Why did you allow him to come into our house? Now, after abandoning us for that…that…bitch…he is sorry! He wants us to take him in because she kicked him out after squeezing out the last rupee from him! He has realised his mistake now! Mistake, my foot, he committed a crime, a sin. There can be no salvation for him. He…” Saroja interrupted her daughter.
“Still, he is your father, Revati…” It was Revati’s turn to interrupt her mother.
“A great father he was, who abandoned his blind daughter!”
The arguments concluded on that painfully sarcastic statement.
“Revati, my sweet daughter,
This is the only way in which I can give back to you what I had snatched from you years ago – your life.
Forgive me if you can. God bless you.
I love you, always did,
“Daddy…” Revati wept.