The daughter and the child

Rocket Raja By Rocket Raja, 3rd Sep 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

There are those who get over losses quickly, there are those some take time. And there are those who never recover from the blow. Read on...

The daughter

“…and so, the prince and his lover lived happily ever after.”


He closed the book. He had realised she was asleep much earlier, but he wanted to complete it for her sake. He ran his fingers through her curly hair. Not surprisingly, it got struck in her curls. Her forehead creased as she let out a groan. He stopped moving. With his free hand, he reached for the pillow and propped it against the wall. He settled beside her and continued playing with her hair, gently twirling it around his little finger. He let out a wisp of smoke from the corner of his mouth. She coughed. At once, he put out the cigarette. The clock’s ticking was synchronous with the dripping of water from the broken kitchen tap onto the sink. An old song playing somewhere not far off and the occasional howling of stray dogs were the only sounds of the night. He lost track of time as his head drooped and his eyelids dropped.

Midnight threw a thick veil of silence over the five floored apartment that they lived in. The moonlight cast a silvery sheen on the metal rim of the bedroom window. The curtains fluttered in rhythm with the mild breeze outside. The sound of silence was deafening.

Nobody spoke and nothing moved.

It was when a shrill scream pierced the midnight air from somewhere below.
Eight hours later, Rajat was still in bed. The Sun rose enough to illuminate the entire bedroom and Rajat’s face. He felt the warmth and wriggled out of the bedcover. His pupils took time to adapt to the sunlight as he squinted out of the window. He straightened himself as he walked up groggily to the hall. Tanu was setting the table for breakfast.

“Hey, where is Simi?”
Tanu seemed to have not heard Rajat.
“What’s for breakfast, Tanu?”
“I woke up late, so you’ll have to put up with hastily made sandwiches.”
“Why what happened? I thought you went to bed early last night?”
“I did, but..”
“And I asked you where Simi is. Where is she? Simi!

Rajath began calling out and searching for Simi everywhere inside the house. He searched in her playroom, the kitchen, the bathroom and under the cot, calling out her name cajolingly all the while. His searching gaze returned to Tanu now and then, but her face hardly betrayed anything. After a while, Rajat gave up searching and sat on the reclining chair in the balcony, watching pensively the morning’s traffic jam. Buses were haphazardly parked in precarious angles to the adjoining cars as chaos reigned in the main road. There was a traffic jam inside his head with a lot of honking, confusion and myriad conflicts battling it out for clarity. He couldn’t remember where she could have possibly gone. The harder he tried, the fuzzier it got. He was about to turn back and call for Tanu, when she came in front of him holding a coffee mug in one hand, the half-eaten sandwich in another.

“Here, have this. You haven’t eaten for more than 18 hours.”
“Where is Simi, Tanu?”
“Get some food Rajat. Things can wait.”
“Where is Simi?”
“I’ve rewarmed the sandwich. It will go waste if you don’t have it. The coffee is losing warmth as well. Finish it quickly, Rajat.”
“Has Simi eaten?”
“Eat Rajat. You are not thinking clearly.”

WHERE THE HELL IS MY DAUGHTER?” bellowed Rajat, and pushed the porcelain coffee mug off Tanu's hand. It cracked, two seconds later on the concrete of the car-park, five storeys below. By that time, he had already stormed out of the balcony to the entrance. Tanu rushed to stop Rajat. She couldn’t put it off any longer. She had to tell him. He was about to bang the door behind him when she stopped him from across the hall.

Rajat..

There was something in her voice that stopped him in his tracks. He couldn’t place it, but it seemed to be filled with more of desperation than fear. It dragged him back to her. She sat him down on the sofa. She searched for the right words to knit a reply that would be truthful, yet not outright frank. She had to think quickly lest he stormed off again.

“They took her away, Rajat.”
“What? Who? Why?”
“They took her away because she belongs to them.”
“What nonsense! Who took her? Tell me now!” Rajat was shaking with fury.
“Mr.Joshi from first floor. They were very worried when she went missing. There was a huge commotion last night. Now please don’t go there and…”

Thirty seconds later, Rajat was banging the door of Mr. Gaurav Joshi.

The door half opened. Clearly, Gaurav Joshi had realised Rajat would be coming anytime in a not-so-social mood. The whole flat knew that Rajat and Joshi were constantly at loggerheads.

“Let me in Joshi! Where is my daughter?” Rajat was shaking so much that he couldn’t even manage to utter the words properly.
“Whose daughter are you talking about?” Joshi sneered with his eyebrows raised.
“My daughter, you kidnapper! My daughter Simi! Where did you hide her? Give her back to me!”
Your daughter? I knew you were bonkers, but definitely not this insane. Have you lost it?!”

With a surge of beastly strength, Rajath forced open the door and pushed Joshi to the floor. Tanu was just in time to prevent her husband from inflicting further damage on Joshi’s face.

“I am so sorry Mr.Joshi. He is not exactly in the best of moods. Please excuse us,” Apologized Tanu as she pulled Rajat back.

“He should know who he is talking to. Flicking small girls in the middle of the night, who wouldn’t close the door on him? I say, you take him to a mental doctor nice and quick before he lays his hands on other girls in the flat.”

It was too much for Rajat to control. He broke free from Tanu’s weak grasp and launched himself on Joshi, showering a fresh cascade of punches on his cheeks.

STOP IT RAJAT! He is right! You have lost it!” screamed Tanu, desperately.

Rajat stopped punching the swollen face and turned around, stunned.

“He is right! She is not our daughter for you to bring home for the night, read stories and put to sleep! If she knew that you took her away from home, she would have come running back to her Papa.”

Rajat had a frozen look of disbelief on his face.

“You are not her Papa, Rajat. Your daughter is..”
“But she is our Simi! Why is this man claiming possession of..”
“She is NOT our Simi! Our Simi is dead! Gone! Drowned four weeks back! This is Mr.Joshi’s daughter. Now please come back Rajat…” Tanu stifled a sob.

A thousand years of silence separated Rajat from the rest. His face became expressionless as he groped in the dark for an explanation. It was his daughter. Why didn’t Tanu and Joshi understand? He had a right over his own daughter, didn’t he? Or did Tanu have a… Rajat cringed on realizing where his thoughts were leading him. He was oblivious to the two other people. He was lost in his world - a world of turmoil inside his head.

The house was brought back to reality with a voice - A child’s voice.

“Haii Papa! Where are you? I am home!” cried Tara, Joshi’s ten year old daughter, as she ran towards her father.

Thinking that the little girl was speaking to him, Rajat greeted her with open arms and lifted her and started swinging her. He then knelt down on the mosaic floor and started hugging and kissing her. Tara had no idea why her neighbour was suddenly showering her with hugs and kisses. She tried to politely ease out of his hug, but he was too strong for her.

“Oh, Simi. Tell them. Tell them where you belong. Tell them I’m your Papa,” said a teary eyed Rajat.

Tara surprise transformed into fear. She started crying. Rajath looked puzzled, Joshi, angry, and Tanu, anxious.

“Put your hands off my daughter, you filthy piece of rag!” as Joshi lunged to get hold of Tara.

Rajat easily swung her away from Joshi’s reach, but Tanu caught Rajat unawares. She grabbed the crying girl from Rajat and handed her over to Mrs.Joshi, who immediately ran off to a corner of the hall.

“You heartless woman!” screamed Rajat as he advanced on Tanu. There was a mad glint
in his eye. He had transformed into something inhuman. It scared Tanu to even make eye contact with him. He raised his hand to slap her but drew his hand back in pain. There was a policeman standing at the entrance. He had thrown his lathi at Rajat.

“Don’t you dare come near me. This is none of your business,” growled Rajat.

“Oh it is very much my business, mister. You are creating public nuisance here. Mrs Joshi and a couple of your neighbours have filed a complaint against you, which is why I’m here. Care to explain here or would it be more convenient in the Police Station?”

Before Rajat could reply, Tanu rushed to the Policeman and took him outside. She swallowed. What she was about to say would bring back haunting memories that she had just gotten over. But she had to tell him. There was no other go.

“Sir, I apologize wholeheartedly on my husband’s behalf. It’s not even been a month since our daughter drowned in a swimming pool in school. We have still not got over the loss; more so, Rajat. He still thinks Simi is alive and pampers any girl who is her age. Even last night, he brought a sleeping Tara to our bedroom and started reading bedtime stories to her. He is in a very bad shape right now. Please do not take action on him and I’ll take responsibility for taking him back home. Please sympathize with my husband, sir. Please..”

The stern-faced policeman was too taken aback to even respond immediately. His face
mellowed immediately as he looked down. After half a dozen seconds of strained silence, he said, ‘I’m sorry, madam.’

When they entered the hall, the scene hadn’t changed much. Rajat still looked angry, but his eyes betrayed a mixture of hope and confusion. Tanu realised there was only one person who could convince Rajat. That very person was crying in Joshi’s arms.

“Ok Rajat. Let us ask Ta.. Let us ask Simi herself if she wants to come with you, shall we?” offered Tanu.

Rajat was hesitant, but eventually agreed after a considerable amount of thought. Joshi let Simi down. She walked up to Tanu. Tanu bent down and lifted Tara gently and sat her down on the table.

“Simi, would you like to come home with your daddy and me?” asked Tanu, careful not to sound too serious.
“My name is not Simi and I don’t like that uncle!” shouted Tara, as she started crying again.

Rajat was shell-shocked. How could Simi not like her father? Why would she run away from him? Tanu took the handkerchief pinned to Tara’s skirt and gently wiped off the tears from her pink cheek.

“But.. But I am your Papa, Simi. Why are you not coming home?” choked Rajat.
“You are not my father. He is!” cried Tara, pointing to Joshi.
“You heard her right. Now go away and stop troubling us. If I ever catch you kidnapping my daughter in the middle of the night ever again, rest assured you will be spending the rest of your life behind bars in a mental asylum. Get lost!” said Joshi.

The insensitivity of Joshi was lost on Rajat because his gaze was still fixed on Tara. His stare was so intense that Tara started crying again and ran to her mother, who took her inside. A sobbing Tanu escorted a stunned Rajat out of the flat. He turned back one last time to catch a glimpse of the child’s face. It had no trace of love. Fear and disgust was writ large on her face- fear of her ‘daddy’. He walked on..

The child

“…and so, the princess and her father lived happily ever after.”


He closed the book. He had realised she was asleep halfway through the book, but he wanted to complete it for her sake. He ran his fingers through her curly hair. Not surprisingly, it got struck in the curls.

Her forehead creased as she let out a groan.

He stopped moving. With his free hand, he reached for the pillow and propped it against the wall. He settled beside her and continued playing with her hair, gently twirling it around his little finger. He let out a wisp of smoke from the corner of his mouth.

She coughed.

At once, he put out the cigarette. The clock’s ticking was synchronous with the dripping of water from the broken kitchen tap onto the sink. An old song playing somewhere not far off and the occasional howling of stray dogs were the only sounds of the night.
At the door, Tanu was sobbing uncontrollably. God had plucked her daughter and given her a child. Through her tear filled eyes, she looked at the child reading bedtime stories to a Barbie doll. As he fell asleep fondling its curls, Tanu wiped her tears and exited the room.

Tags

Anger, Child, Conflict, Cry, Daughter, Father, Fear, Flat, Fury, Hug, Love, Mother, Neighbor, Panic, Wife

Meet the author

author avatar Rocket Raja
A teenager with a wandering mind, restless fingers and loads of time. Hoping to do a good job.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
4th Sep 2012 (#)

This was interesting... Nice Story...

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author avatar Prabhu Dhev
4th Sep 2012 (#)

Really nice stuff, touching!

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author avatar vpaulose
12th Nov 2012 (#)

Interesting story. Thank you Raja. Happy Diwali.

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