“What makes my little tiger morose?” my father asked as he walked into my den. I was sipping on a coffee, wishing it was something else and eating bread, wishing that too was something else. I looked up, finally breaking my undying gaze into nothingness that extended beyond the boundaries of my humble abode, as seen from the gallery.
“You wouldn’t know, I am sure its a problem from, for and of my generation.” I had to respond. After all he was my father, hiding anything from him wouldn’t be a wise move, especially not in the given scenario. Moreover, I felt resigned, done and down. After a long time, I felt like there was nothing left fighting for. My slow thoughts resonated with me, and while I tried to comprehend my own thoughts, consolidate them, to no avail.
“Try me, I might be younger than I look.” he chimed in. His hair greyed, his eyes moist and they had a twinkle, something I hadn’t seen in a long time, a twinkle that was always home to me. His face lined, and his skin had started wrinkling. Truly a 50 year old, I thought to myself. Sitting in that chair, alongside my father, I felt I was home, after eons of wandering like a nomad, seeking answers and a greater purpose. Maybe it was just the Sagittarius in me, moving on from one thing to another so fast, I had forgotten where I belonged. “I know you aren’t happy, and I know its about the girl you like.” he added.
“So … you know.” I ask, not scared anymore, not the small boy of my father, not the kid who would hide all his shenanigans and misdemeanor from his father, trying to keep myself safe from what could anger him, how disobedient I was, and the poor grades I consistently kept on hitting. I felt like i was sitting with a friend, a very old friend, a friend whom I had known since I started existence, and a friend with whom I hadn’t communicated in what seemed like centuries. I was sitting with an ally, or maybe just a larger part of myself, who knew everything about me … and maybe the solutions too.
“Yes, I do know. No one could be more important than someone who keeps my son on his phone all day. Someone who has occupied my son’s thoughts, and maybe has made him obsess. You are a part of me, and you know that. But for the sake of your comfort, lets talk only about the things you are comfortable talking about.” My father tells me.
I gave a resigned sigh, he knew, he had known all along, and he knew of everything else too. Maybe I should have poured myself a glass on the rocks rather than a cup of coffee, which clearly was doing me no good. That made me laugh. “Well, thank you for that. I had assumed that you would’ve assumed me to be comfortable with you.” I complete my thought louder than expected.
“I would hope, but I wouldn’t assume. I guess that somewhere between you growing up and I trying to provide for you, we lost the comfort we once shared when you would horseback with me.” he said.
That clearly took me by surprise, surprised that he remembered and cheeky about the fact that so did I. “I never pretended to be the king or the knight. I always pretended to be the man on a horse, someone who had more power and ambitions than a knight or king could ever have, I always imagined trotting across the universe. Maybe this planet has always been too small for me … Did you know?” I couldn’t help asking.
“I know that, and I know a lot more things.” he said, “Do you know…?
“Like?” I asked.
“What part do you want to hear? The first time you learnt to walk? The first time you rode a bike? The first time you achieved an A? How you handled meeting new people and becoming friends? Or how much you strived to be a better boy, failing, not giving up, and yet keep trying?” He put forward a few questions.
“Those are the good things, father.” I laughed.
“Do you want to hear about the things you think are bad? About how you think you are in love with someone perfect? The first time you cried? The first time you failed a test and didn’t tell me, and the multiple times after that? How you hated being rejected from the boy scouts? The time when you first took money without asking me, and subsequently kept doing that, or the time you got a girl over for the first time? Your first drink, or the first smoke? Which bad and sad part do you want to talk about?” He poked me.
“If you knew all that, why didn’t you stop me?” I couldn’t help asking.
“You are a man, you have learned, if I had stopped you, you wouldn’t have grown as a person. Hated me, which you had and seen me as an enemy, which you have. No … I thought it was the best for you to learn on your own, make your judgement of what is right and wrong, be your own solider.” he replied.
“That was risky, I could have gone down the wrong path … or maybe I already am on the wrong path, you can’t be sure.” I told him.
“Are you now? I don’t think so, I know you, you are a part of me, you are my son, and I have more than enough faith in you, I know you to be a good man. I also know that you are someone who will be strong enough to destroy universes, and yet gentle enough to not hurt even a butterfly.” he tells me.
“How can you be sure that I wouldn’t take the other side?” I continued poking him.
“I have faith in you. Nothing more, and nothing less.” his answer moved me.
I sipped on my coffee, kept silent. He understood that I was taken off guard, he knew that I didn’t expect to hear that. He knew that I hadn’t expected to see the vulnerable side of his, knew that I was expecting to see him strong, maybe pull me out of my misery and give me a chance to start things afresh. He too gave a tired sigh.
“What bothers you? Tonight, and since a lot of nights of which I know.” he finally asked me.
I decided to barricade my defences and tell him. “When I look around, I look at you, at mother, at my friends, at people who aren’t my friends … I don’t see people who are lonely, I don’t see people who are alone, scared. I know and I see them with someone, someone who is perfect for them. They are with their soulmates, and for all of them, it has been so easy. For all of you it has been so easy. And here I am …”
“And here you are…” he ended it for me. “I am not an advocate, I won’t say that others have it easy, or you have it difficult, or that you are overthinking, neither am I going to say how difficult it is for others, nor am I going to say that it should be easier than this. I know you think you are in love with someone. I know you think she is perfect for you.”
“I am your blood, and if nothing else, I have one inherent trait of doing a research before making ventures. When I met her, as I spent time with her, and got to know her better … I started envisioning something. I envisioned a future, she seems to be the one person who completes me. I never wanted to settle down so soon. But, when I see her, I see myself having a family, a peace of mind, a house, a regular and normal life. A job, thinking of weekends, and ultimately retirement.” I tell him.
“Oh boy! What makes you think so?” He was getting curious.
“How does it matter?” I ask him. “Shouldn’t you be happy? That I am thinking on the lines you have always wanted me to think on? To find stability, to settle down?”
“And what kind of a father would it make me, if I wanted my son to give up on all his ambitions for a mediocre life?” he cottoned in, humbling me with a voice that was so heavy with emotions.
“Haven’t you always wanted that from me? A good job, a wife and kids? A house, with ethics and morals and principles?” I couldn’t help retort.
“You know me better, I know you do and hence I choose not to explain. You are old and smart enough to know what the truth is. Sure, I can lead you to the truth, I can’t make you believe it.” His response as simple as my understanding needed to be. I started to get agitated. “What is your point? Are you trying to help me or make my thoughts more difficult to contemplate than what they already are?” I blurted out in anger.
He sighed, looked into the nothingness beyond for a while, as if getting the answers to a lot of questions about life, in those brief 5 minutes which seemed to stretch longer than an eleventh hour. “I never told you my story, and I am sure it is not an inspirational one, after all, I am an ordinary father, an ordinary man, I settled, I am in love with your mother, have a decent income and I provide for my family … But I too was long ago, young and hopelessly in love. I loved a woman, her name was Bertha. I used to sit with her on the bus, took her to the movies and took her dancing too. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be with her. Your uncle, my older brother knew too … He helped me.”
“What happened of that woman? Did you lose her too? Settle for someone else? Settled for mother? And why are you telling me this? Are you telling me that I am as useless and pathetic, and that I should give up?” I pressed, wanting to make him angry, maybe get him to leave. His presence, clearly wasn’t helping my cause.
“Her father didn’t approve of me, she decided to listen to her father. Yes, I lost her. Yes, I settled for someone else, settled for your mother … And I am in no way telling, speaking or implying you to be useless and pathetic. You are better than that. I have seen you flirt, certainly better than me … Also a better tolerance for alcohol and lies. Impressive, I must say.” He laughed in. “Tell me one thing, are you happy?”
“I guess you can say so … I suppose so … Aren’t good flirting skills a necessity for happiness?” I poured in, sarcastically.
“I don’t know where you get your sarcasm from.” he laughed. “And I would be of an opinion that, if you have to guess and suppose, you aren’t happy. Not exactly ’The One’ for you anyway.”
“What do you know about finding ’The One’ anyway?” I asked.
“I am no expert in the subject, my lord … Pardon me for that.” He started. “I know she does make you happy, but you aren’t happy enough.” he continued. He got up from the chair, making me assume that the conversation had ended, he had enough of me. And I would be free to submerge into my own thoughts, dwindling down the grapevine of chaotic thoughts. “I do know this one small thing about finding your ‘The One’.” he said as he started to walk. He turned around to look me in the eye, his eyes moist, filled with love and adoration for me. The moment made me vulnerable, both of us were, and tears slipped down my eyes, one from either of the eye. “ Find a woman for whom you would go onto your knees for … but also be sure of finding ’The Woman’ … who will lift you by your shoulders and kiss you, once she is done saying a yes…” he tells me, turns around and walks away to tune into his evening news.
Previously published on Bigger Infinity
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