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Common Loss But Different Ways To Cope!! All In The Family!!

Loss of the 'woman of the family' leads to change in relationship dynamics of the other members of the family too. A father and a daughter in this case...

Akila arrived home a day sooner for Pooja holidays to help care for her sick father. Since her mother passed away, her dad Alok would often disappear unexpectedly, and she soon found out the reason. She had every right to question her dad on this, at least that is what she felt, and did ask him about his sudden disappearances from home. He reluctantly agreed to put an end to this. On opening the door Akila dropped her bags and stared with her mouth wide open at her smartly dressed dad; standing in the hall, unable to hide his embarrassment. “Dad, a triple bypass at the age of fifty years and just now you have been discharged from the hospital. This has to stop now!” argued Akila with her dad in a deeply hurt voice, as tears streamed down her cheeks.

Alok yelled louder than he was physically comfortable with, “Akila dear, I know you care about me, but this is none of your business, I am an adult. Just keep off.” Holding on gently to his wounded heart and upset over her argument , Alok managed to walk unsteadily towards the front door and threw it open clumsily just as a toddler would.“If you leave this house now, then be rest assured that I will not be there for you in this house the next time you come home. If you take yet another step I will move to my dearest friend Nikita’s house,” snapped Akila and continued, “Don’t you know how disgusting you are?”

Yelling thus she grabbed his walker and flung it forcefully behind her in a spurt of anger. Alok, leaning against the threshold, beckoned a taxi passing that way. The driver nimbly jumped out of the car and assisted Alok to the rear seat. Akila watched her ailing father leave to his moral desolation through the lace curtains her mother had sewn. Very soon she picked up her suitcase and walked out of her home in a huff!

It is a scorching afternoon and the shopping area is strangely quiet in Mumbai, with not even a single leaf moving on the trees. All is still and quiet. Alok and his newly acquired friend, Ranjith, the taxi driver, pull up outside the infamous Anoka Ghar. The air is dry and painful to inhale, but Alok continues to walk through with exhaustion.

Merely looking at the worn out façade, Alok could feel the lust for life return; and the blood pulse through his veins. He ignores the pain, tiredness, and the grief, as long as he is able to escape to this place, his private sanctuary. Ranjith runs back to turn off the ignition and walks along with Alok, “Hey old man, I think life is too short for rules today, I will join you.” As they shuffle together on the grimy carpet in the interior of the vast old building, Ranjith notices the security person greeting the frail man like a family member.

Ranjith couldn’t help but grin, “So you’re a regular? Fair play to you, life in the senior yet,” and then lowers Alok’s extremely light frame into his seat. Looking around Ranjith absorbs the desperate atmosphere of the room. The place is dingy and barren, just about four to five guys, maybe in their forties or fifties, jobless and wifeless he imagines!”

“I understand how your daughter feels. Once is fun, often is a bit too much. She knows where you are. If you were my Dad, I too would shiver with rage.”

Alok pauses a moment for breath “Frankly, I would rather you got the hell out of here. I am not your father.” There is a pain in Alok’s voice. Ranjith says nothing, nods and walks out, leaving this bitter old man in the company of the sleazy and wretched guys. Suddenly the lights dim; colourful spotlights start dancing, and racy music begins to play extremely loudly. A lady walks out on stage with a socially unacceptable dress. As the music subsides, Alok pulls out a few hundred rupee notes from his pocket and signals the lady to come over. “Great to see you again Alok, you are looking fine,” saying thus, she grabs the money from his weak hand. “Thank you Anu,” utters Alok with his eyes spilling droplets of tears onto the stage. “I love you more than life itself. I miss you every single day, now that I am living without you my dear. How can I exist without you?” “Hey Alok, stop calling me by your dead wife’s name, it is really morbid,” she says before dancing over to the next gambler.

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Alok looks straight into her eyes and it was as if Anu had never died, what with all the days of sitting by her bedside staring at her life support machine. Coming here is the only time his heart does not burn. Painfully he continues, “Alright Anu,” knowing very well that he will never stop coming here, even as he remembers his darling daughter’s heart-wrenching plea.

Image via Pixabay

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