As a seven-year-old, it felt strange to be ignored by his own father, even though he had a high fever and had met with a domestic accident. Moreover, his mother had gone out of work, leaving him home to be cared for by his father. Was it that he was an unexpected child because he was subjected to such bitterness? Or was it because his father was married to a well-educated woman, himself being uneducated. The discrepancy, which is still prevalent in many areas of Indian society, is best exemplified by his own family, house and life.
That day, as father was busy doing his not-so-important stuff in the house, he went and was pulling his pants for attention when the father pushed him back in anger, and that’s when he fell down and hit the sharp corner of the bed. The right side of his forehead, along with his ear, felt spasms of agony as it hit the sharp edge of the bed.
He felt tears of pain and anger roll down his innocent cheeks. His father looked back to see what happened and felt further irritated. Just then, his mother returned home to face his wrath. Yet again, she was accused of being highly educated and leaving the house for work and livelihood, blamed as ‘good-for-nothing’. Domestic violence was an everyday business that he was forced to witness.
He would see his mother cook meal for his father and the whole family despite all this. Do chores without complaining. Get new clothes for him. And did everything shouldered all responsibilities as his mother was the family’s sole bread earner. But over the years, his mother too accumulated some amount of bitterness within her which she vented through her love for ‘shayaris’ and poetry. So he also started imagining all fathers as shrews!
As the years passed, his father became bedridden due to his prolonged disease. He needed love and care. He wondered, “will ‘karma’ play its role?” But all he saw was his mother taking utmost care of his father. How could she? Was it because of her upbringing and society’s demands? Or out of respect for the relationship she was into for the last 40 years? He wasn’t convinced. After all, he was just entering the roller-coaster ride of his life.
Then came a day when he was undergoing training for his new job and had to put together a project about the life of elderly people living in an old-age home. The very topic made him sick to the stomach. He started to wonder why his own father couldn’t be sent to a house like this as he had demanded it so many times. The debate during the training about looking after the elderly in families made him argue with his colleagues to the point of being rude. All present there, along with supervisors, were surprised to see that he harboured so much anger within him.
He and his colleagues finally decided and reached the old-age home, an old building with some yellowish-brown shuttered windows. He sat stubbornly on a bench in the garden, hell-bent on not doing anything constructive. That’s when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. He looked up and saw an old man beaming at him in a plain white kurta. His name was ‘Mr Roger’, who invited him to his room and shared a packet of biscuits over a hot cup of ginger tea that he made.
Mr Roger’s maturity with kindness attracted him, and he gushed about his father. The old man assured him that all fatherly figures aren’t the same, and probably his father had reasons for such ill-filled actions. After that day, till training continued, he went back to visit Mr Roger several times. Through his conversations with Mr Roger, the old man provided him with the understanding and closure that he needed to forgive his father and let go of his anger.
Thereon he would sit beside his ill father, take his bony hands in his and speak to him. He would tell him how he yearned for him to talk or respond or smile. But, of course, he doesn’t know if he ever heard him. But a while later, he passed away and with him passed his anger-ridden self!
And he found solace in forgiving!