“So your parents are getting a divorce? Why? What happened? Poor you.”
Meghna flinched, bowed her head and mutely walked away. Her little shoulders carried the school bag laden with books and her heart carried a heavy load, much heavier to tug along than the school bag. Life had changed in a fraction of a second for Meghna, not that she could not fathom those warning signs and decipher them. Her worst fear had come true. As she lay in bed each night and heard her Mommy Daddy’s raised voices, sobs and then the silence, she prayed hard to God “God please make Mummy Daddy love each other like before, please let them stop fighting”.
Then one day as she came home there was an eerie silence, something seemed odd but she couldn’t figure out what. Later it hit her that she had not seen Daddy since last night. It was the weekend and he seldom went out on weekends. She got a greater shock when she couldn’t find his clothes in the wardrobe, his shoes in the shoe rack and some family photo frames suddenly missing. Her mother looked pale and weak. She spent most of the time in her room. Meghna did not want to make things more difficult. She understood Papa has left the house, probably for a few days till things cooled down.
Their life seemed more peaceful now, no shouting, no sobs, and no negativity in the air. She missed her Dad though. Her mother was recovering and she looked better now.
And then it started. All of a sudden just like a storm that comes unannounced and wreaks havoc. People’s hushed whispers and the awkward silence when she turned up suddenly, the way they tried to cover it up with a fake smile. Some even went a step further and asked her “Where is your father? He lives somewhere else now I heard” and the aunties who gave her a look of pity and murmured “Poor girl you do not deserve this, you are so young”.
As she walked back to the building that day, she saw her father at the gate. She was overjoyed to see him. So he had come back finally. She was happy on one end and also relieved that now people’s tongues will stop wagging and they would not utter the dreadful D word.
Daddy hugged her and her first words were “Daddy I am so glad you are back now it will be like old times again”.
Daddy’s smile fades and he looked at her and said “My princess I know all of this is so sudden and overwhelming for you. We should have spoken earlier, trust me this is not how me and your Mummy wanted things to proceed but it’s the reality and we all have to accept it. Come let’s go to your favorite park and talk”. Meghna was speechless something don’t seem to add up here. She saw Daddy’s car it was overstuffed with Daddy’s belongings, so many of them which were in their house earlier. And why were they going to the park instead of home? This was very strange.
Daddy kept chatting with her asking her about school and piano classes till they reached the park. He got her favorite pista kulfi and once they were seated he took her hand in his. “My princess always remember this. Mummy and Daddy love you a lot and this one thing will never change. You are not small any longer and you have seen Mummy Daddy fighting a lot in past few months. You may have thought how can 2 people who loved each other so much turn into such beings who can’t even talk without getting into an argument. Darling such things happen sometimes with people, does not mean they are bad people. Sometimes they are less unhappy being on their own than with the person they love. And the same is the case with Mummy and me. We respect each other and care for each other but we have reached this stage where we cannot live together. We have made a conscious decision to part ways , this is in the best interests of everyone my love”.
He held her hand tighter as he said those words. He knew it was more difficult for his little daughter to hear the truth than it was for him to utter it. “Darling that does not mean we will not spend time together as a family or you have to choose between two of us. No absolutely not. We promise you that though we will not live together under one roof, we will still have our family time. Your annual day, other school functions, our family outings we will do all of those as a family. But darling don’t ask us to live together for that will spoil everything. Tell me honestly isn’t the house more peaceful now that Mummy and I are not together? What matters to you more? Just Mummy Daddy living together and no one’s happy or they live apart and everyone is content and though we don’t meet daily, whenever we do and whatever time we spend is memorable”.
“But Daddy what about people they keep talking behind our back?”
“Beta people will always talk. If everything is perfect in our life do you think they won’t talk? They would still find something to talk. If we start thinking about what people think more than thinking about what we want, we would always be unhappy. Learn to place your interests first and learn to be thick skinned and ignore them. Better if you can give them a piece of your mind. But never ever let their talks affect you or make you weak.”
Daddy hugged her “you are my brave girl and my princess, Always remember we love you”.
Meghna suddenly felt light hearted. Divorce was no longer a dreadful word, she knew the truth now. She knew this since a long time deep in her heart that her parents were happier bring apart. As she walked hand in hand with her Daddy, her heart felt lighter. She held her head high, there was nothing to be ashamed of, yes her parents would be getting a divorce soon but that did not make them an outcast. It was their personal matter and people had no right to interfere nor did she need their sympathy, she was perfectly happy and her parents loved her. This was a new beginning for all of them, she smiled to herself. Life had taken a u turn but for the better.