A short story
Instructions to maid-check.
Grocery shopping – check.Kid’s bags packed – check.Cab to airport booked- checkI was so excited. Appa was coming today. He had promised to spend at least 6 months with us.I fetched my diary from the bookshelf and opened it. Memories of the past so many years came flooding by.A small fishing village in Mangalore, a house by the sea, thatched roof, lots of coconut trees in the backyard and a little girl with her Appa. I lost my mother when I was 4 years old; the memories have faded away with time. Was I too young to remember or was it that my Appa never let me feel those pangs of loneliness by stepping into the shoes of a mother, I don’t know. My early memories of my father and me are of him cooking a lip smacking meal of fish curry and boiled rice which I used to happily devour, playing with me by the sea, teaching me to swim, plaiting my hair as I went to school. Amma and Appa had a love marriage which was not acceptable to her parents, they severed all ties with their daughter and I haven’t heard from them till date. Appa only had his mother by his side. When Amma breathed her last, he promised her that he will never let their darling daughter miss her mother, from now on he would be Amma.Grandma lived with us and what delightful years those were. Appa was not an overly ambitious man. He worked a 9-5 job and he would be back home at sharp 5.15. Not a minute longer in office. We had an ancestral house which was inherited by him from his father, coconut trees and many plants like coriander, lemon, chilies etc. grew in our backyard. Fish was abundantly available as we lived by the sea and fishermen would usually give us a generous share of their days catch at a very low price. As long as all our basic necessities were met, Appa did not want to worry about making too much money. He wanted to focus all his time and energy on me, telling me stories, taking care of my studies, listening to all my girlie gossip- he did it all. He used to maintain a daily journal and it is from him that I learnt this.People advised him to remarry but he just brushed them away, I have my daughter to look after, I have lots to do in life. Don’t worry about me getting lonely, I never will. I remember the day he seated me and told me all about bees and birds, about menstruation and puberty and so much more. I couldn’t imagine any other girl who would have had this conversation with her father but we had it. It did not feel dirty or embarrassing it just felt normal for he made it normal through his words.I was prepared and not in a state of shock and disbelief when I got my first period unlike so many others who are clueless bcos their Moms thought they are still young to have a conversation with. I would thank my Dad for this. He always taught me to be independent, hold my head high and work with commitment and dedication to achieve my dreams.As I grew into a young lady while all my friends were busy dating and courting boys, I remained single. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I looked at every boy I met in terms of how he matched up in comparison with Appa. And most of them failed miserably. And hence I remained single. And then one day I met Vishnu. Though I still complain he’s not up to mark when I compare him to Appa, he was “the chosen one”.Appa was the happiest but my happiness was diluted by the fact that I had to shift to Dubai where Vishnu worked. Miles away from my Appa. Who would make fish curry rice for me, tell me stories, lovingly oil my hair and give me the hot water bag when I had cramps due to my period? But I had to accept the reality. I moved to Dubai after marriage and a new life began. I called Appa daily on phone and we chatted to our hearts content.Then one day I found out I was pregnant. It was such a joyful moment but Vishnu worried about who would take care of me and the baby those initial days. His mother did not keep good health, I assured him I would be fine and I would call Appa to Dubai, he could at least help by cooking my favorite food and make sure I was well fed. The rest I would take care with the help of a maid. Appa came during my 7th month with a truckload of food, I wonder how he managed to smuggle all this stuff through the airport check. He tended me to me like a little child, cooking, feeding and after my delivery he refused to leave me alone for a minute. There was a maid to bathe, massage me and the baby but Appa took care of everything else. From washing the soiled nappies of his granddaughter to rocking he to sleep by singing lullabies- he did it all. Everyone including Vishnu was super impressed by him and Vishnu couldn’t thank him enough for all that he did. He left when the baby was a year old and we all had settled down.We requested him a lot to move in here with us permanently but he declined saying his native place was where he wanted to breaths his last, that place made him feel at home. I always worried about him but I knew he wouldn’t listen to me and I did what I could best do. I phoned him and spoke to him, mailed him pictures of his grandchild.I closed the diary it was almost time for his flight. He was visiting us to spend the summer holidays here. I looked at God’s idol nearby and thanked him – I do not know why he took away my mother when I was so young. God’s ways are strange at times and unfathomable but he gave me Mother’s love in the form of a father who did everything that a mother does for her child. With a smile on my lips I walked to wards the car – after all isn’t it a super joyful day for every girl when she goes to her Mom’s place or her Mom comes visiting home?