‘I heard you. I heard you, darling. Daddy is coming home next week.’ Maya said out aloud with her welled up eyes and trembling hands.
Maya held her thirteen-year old daughter, Alisha, and hugged her, and both of them relished the moment; none of them said anything but just held each other. Maya’s husband was coming back to them after five long years to complete his incomplete family.
Alisha last saw her dad when she was of eight. Her dad had taken her to her favorite ice-cream parlor, bought her her beloved Barbie, played with her and promised to love her forever.
She, at that time, was too young to realize that those were her last few moments with her dad before he set off for his long exile; and neither of the parents wanted to burden their little girl with the truth.
Maya, who was three-months pregnant back five years in 1970, knew that their second baby won’t be able to recognize his own dad when he will come back to his family; and this cruel reality broke her heart more than the fact of not being able to be with her husband for half a decade. She knew if she had fallen weak at the last moment, her husband would drop all his duties and plans, and stay back at his home, with his family. But then she’d had broken the promise of always being his strength.
Those last few days were still vivid in her memory : how he made sure to never leave a chance of caressing her; how he never let her do any chore after he got to know of her second pregnancy; how he woke up before her, daily, in the morning to see her still asleep; how he wrote those letters for every possible weak moment that she might experience in his absence; how he cried when he thought she was asleep, unaware of her being awake; how he stayed strong, for he knew his even one weak moment could crush his love – his wife.
Oh! And how could she not remember the moment she told him about the pregnancy of second baby. She never had seen him in tears before (other than the time of Alisha), but that day she realized how good a father she was gifting their children. He had always loved Maya dearly; after she became mother for the first time- she knew his love hadn’t only deepened for her but had become as strong as ever. And when he got to know about becoming a father for the second time – his feeling was inexplicable and his love eternal.
Yes, there was supposed to be a second-baby, but a miscarriage shattered Maya’s and her husband’s dream.
A mother who had carried a life within her for months, expecting to caress that life in her arms after sometime, is made aware that it’s over, that the life within her has been taken away from her even before she could feel it in her arms, nothing can ever fill that vacant hole in her life. And when that mother doesn’t have anybody around to, at least, be with her, nobody can ever curse her with the more torturous punishment.
A dead baby, about whom the father still didn’t know.
And a baby who in those five years of absence kept on asking her mom about her dad that ‘Where is he?’, ‘Why did he leave us alone?’, ‘Did he not love me?’ And all her mom could tell her was her dad’s absence was for a greater cause, for his country.
But now, when finally he was coming back to never go ever, both – Maya and Alisha, were ecstatic. There still were five days left for him to come back, but passage of each day was nothing less than a year for both the ladies. They had redecorated the whole house. Little Alisha helped her mom with everything that she possibly could help her with.
New bedsheets had replaced the older ones, the motorbike had been repaired and washed, and the menu for next many coming days had been prepared.
Maya could, finally, succeed in picking up a saree for herself which she thought she looked best in. Nothing in her current closet could satisfy her and thus the nearby shop rescued her from her critical situation.
Only one day was left. The very next day Maya would feel her love for the first time after five years, and the little grown-up Alisha would hug her father and sit on his lap. If anybody wanted to witness the combination worry and excitement – both the ladies, especially Maya, were the current epitome of it.
The day arrived and both – Maya with her love in her heart, and little Alisha with her “Welcome home Dad” card in her hands, reached at airport in noon as they were informed by Maya’s husband in his last letter. Maya had been with her husband for long thirteen years (including these five years of separation) but she felt as if she were going to meet him for the first time. Those years of separation, those years of nil contact had turned her into a teenager who was waiting for her long-lost love.
Letters? – they’ve been there. But only a few from her husband. Maya did try to send but every time her letter came back to her the same way.
Every minute was as long as days and every second as hours; time did not seem to pass. Maya was informed about her husband’s flight’s arrival at eleven in morning, but clock had already struck twelve and there neither was any announcement of flight’s delay nor any announcement of the flight’s arrival.
Alisha’s body had gotten tired with too much of wait but her excitement of meeting her father had overshadowed every fatigue, every other feeling of hers. Maya, on the other hand, was becoming anxious and more worried with every passing minute; every negative idea crossed her mind, every negative possibility gradually crumbled her heart.
Nobody around her seemed worried to Maya; as if she was the only one waiting for that flight.
Clock struck one and still no news. So, she headed to one of the security guards at the “Arrival gate” and enquired about the flight. And the news shattered her very heart; it was all dark for a moment and before Maya could even realize, her hand’s grip loosened Alisha’s and she collapsed on the floor.
to be continued…
Ready for the next part? Here it is- Will he come back?-PART(2/2)
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