The Father

by Manu Peter

The Father

I did it, thundered Ranganathan under his breath, as he walked out of the alley to the main road to hail a cab.

To the airport, driver, said Rangathan, as he got into the cab and heaved a sigh of relief he closed his eyes and muttered to himself, I finally did it. That animal robbed the peace of my family and I handled the matter in the best way any father would

As they neared the parking lot at the airport, Ranganathan pulled out his wallet to pay the driver. Just then he realized with shock that he had lost his mobile. He searched in the cab, but it was in vain.

Where did I lose it?where?Ranganathan thought with clenched teeth.

Appa, appa..,

Ranganathan looked ahead and saw his son Surya, waving at him hysterically. He walked up to his son and asked, wheres your Amma and Akka ?

They are waiting at the counter. Lets go, I want to buy chocolates from the Duty free shop.

Jaya and Sridevi were sitting near the counter. Sridevi felt comforted, as her Amma stroked her forehead, while she rested her head on her Ammas lap.

Jaya, lets goCmon Sreekutty (as Sridevi was fondly called), you can hold Appas hand

They collected their boarding tickets and sat at a caf in the Duty free. Surya went ahead and bought some chocolates for his cousins at Chennai.

Sreekutty, shall I get you something to eat

No Appa, I am not hungry

How about you, Jaya asked Ranganathan, Shall I get you some coffee?

Yes, Id like a cup of coffee

Amma, I want to go to the wash room. Please come with me, said Sreekutty

Akka, shame shame, you want Amma to come with you to the washroom. You are 19 years oldshame shame. Look at me, I am only 8 years old and I go to the bathroom by myself

Sridevi started crying silently. Surya felt bad and went near Sridevi. Akka, I didnt mean to sadden you. What happened? Why are you crying for such a small thingAmma, whats happened to Akka ? Why is she crying like this

Enough Surya, dont trouble Akka. Jaya, take her to the washoom

As they walked to the wash room, Ranganathan looked at his son and told him not to do or say anything that would make his Akka sad.

Appa, why have we packed everything ? Arent we coming back ?, asked Surya

No, we might not come back. Appa has problems at office and so, we will stay in India

Thats just great. I will play Kabadi and Cricket with Kishore and Nandanand best part, no school !!!

You will have to join at some school in Chennaimaybe the one run by your uncle, that way we wouldnt need to worry about the documentation

Why do I have to join school in India ? I do not want to lose my friends here

You will make new friendsand we might not be able to come back to Dubai.

**************************

Sridevi is crying in the washroom.

Sreekutty, are you okay, dear ?

Its paining, Amma, cried Sridevi.

Jaya helplessly told her daughter to come out if she has finished.

Wash your face Sreekutty and come sit with me outside for few minutes

They sat outside the washroom and Jaya held her daughters hands in hers.

Sreekutty, please look at Amma. I know this is painful for you. It is painful for all of us. Your Appa is totally distraught. Your sad face will worry him even more. He has worked all his life to provide us a good living and this incident has ruined all his hard work. Sree, there is something you need to bear in your mind and convince yourself. As long as you havent sinned consciously, you dont need to blame yourself for what happened. I have told you before too. Try to convince yourself that you were bitten by a mad dog and though you tried to run away, you were helpless. You will have the pain for some time. But, then since we women are stronger than men, we can adapt to any situation, as we command our minds to. Whatever happened to you, shouldnt have happened to any student. Since in our culture, we are taught to treat our teachers as another form of God Himself. Convince yourself that Professor Brian crossed the sanctity of teacher-student relationship and hurt you. It was his entire fault. I need you to help me on this. I want our family together again. Please try to put up a happy face, atleast to calm your Appas mind. Once, we are at Chennai, I want you to be extra careful, not to let anyone come to know of this incident. Our relatives are not broad minded enough to accept a rape as an abuse of a girls modesty without her consent. They will just be more interested in passing judgements. So, please dont breathe a word of this to anyone

But, Amma, I am not pure anymore

Sreekutty, please take out those rubbish thoughts out of your mind. You are as pure as the snow. Remember, as long as you have not done any wrong consciously, you are pure at heart. That is all that mattersnow please bring a smile on your face, for your Appas sake...

As Jaya and Sridevi walked out of the washroom holding hands, Ranganathan got up from his seat and stretched out his hand towards Sridevi. She ran into her Appas arms and cried.

Its okay Sree, Appa and Amma are always with you, no matter whatYou are still our beautiful Barbie girl

I am so sorry Appa, that I put you through this. It was not my fault..

Exactly Sree, it was not your fault. Its just a period of time that we need to erase from our mindsWe are a family and we share our sorrows happiness togethernow, show your beautiful smile

Hey, Surya, give Akka a chocolate bar and maybe, a small piece for your dear Amma too.. and Ranganathan smiled. It feels good to smile after the two day ordeal.

FINAL CALL FOR RANGANATHANPASSENGER TO CHENNAI .

Thats ushead to Gate # 7, quickly

Everyone got settled in the airplane. During take-off, Ranganathan looked outside and thought to himself, Long 35 years, that I have lived in this country, it has given me good share of happiness, my children were born here, their education, well-being, except.Jaya touched him with a calmness twinkling in her eyes, as if asking him to calm down.

Jaya, all our life we lived well. God was Gracious to us, except for the torture that our daughter had to bear for no fault of her own. All our hard work thrown away in a day and we had to sneak out of the country without being noticedand to think of, how we are going to adjust back home ?

Raghu, does it really matter whether we are in Chennai or Dubai? As long as we are all together in good health, just be thankful to God for that. You are a self made man. Your hard work and dedication got you the position of Financial controller at HSBC. I trust you with our lives and I know with our love and attention, Sreekutty will be back as normal.

What would I do without you, Jaya ? asked Ranganathan, as Jaya rested her head on his shoulders and fell asleep.

**************************

Back home at Chennai,

what time is your interview, Raghu?

Its at 11 in the morning. Shankar will drop me at the office and he has also taken care of Suryas admission at schoolGod bless him..

its trueGod come in all forms, Raghufor us, Shankar is one such form

Suddenly, Amma..Ammaaaaa. shrieked Sridevi

whats wrong Sree?

There was a murder attack on Professor Brian at Dubaiwatch the news

Murderedwhen ???

They are saying two nights back...Amma, isnt that the same night that we travelled ? They have found a mobile at the spotAmma Amma!!!, didnt Appa say that he misplaced his mobile ? The police are trying to find out under whose name the mobile was registered.

Sree, what are trying to imply? That your Appa must have done this !!! Have you lost your mind completely !!! Switch off the TV, Sree, right now !!! and go to your room

Sree, dont speak to your Appa about this news, let him get back after the interview..

**************************

In the evening,

Jaya, Im backahhh, a cup of steaming coffee!!! You are an angelwhats wrong Jaya ? Why are you so silent ? Dont you want to know what happened at the interview ?

How was it..?

I got the job, JayaYou remember Mr. Venkat, who was my supervisor years back at HSBC. Well, he is one of the Managing Directors at Axis bank and my luck that he bumped in to me at the stairs. Once I told him that I had come to attend the interview, he took me to his cabin and asked his secretary to give me the appointment letter. That was really our good luck and the pay is really good, along with the benefits Jaya, are you listening to me ? Whats wrong? You dont seem yourself todaytell mewhats wrong?

Raghu, I need to ask you somethingThere was a news on Tv that Professor Brian from Weston University Dubai was attacked by an unidentified person the same night we travelled to Chennai. They do not have a clue on the attackerno fingerprintsbut, they have found a mobile phone at the spot and trying to trace the registered name

Attacked ? Isnt he dead ? He should be, for what he has done to my daughter !!!

So, its youyou tried to murder the professor

Jaya, why do you seem so shocked ? Why did you think we flew to Chennai within hours of knowing what happened to Sreekutty ? Were you under the impression that I was ashamed of what happened to my little girl ? I have the money to provide her the best medical care anywhere in the world and you know that. But, I had to finish him off. He didnt deserve to live. That evening, I waited for him to finish his class outside the university and hit him on his head with the soiled iron pipe, once he entered the alley. I told him who I was and why I did this to him, before he diedApparently, he hasnt diedwhere is he now?

Why ? Do you want to go back and finish him off

Of course, you know how I hate to leave unfinished business. Tell me

Hes in a coma at one of the hospitals in Dubai

Okay Jaya, I need to leave for a day or twoIf anybody asks you, just say that there were some legal formalities to complete at my previous job in Dubai

Are you serious ? Didnt I tell you that they are trying to track by the mobile phone ?

It is not registered under my nameI didnt get the time to register it, so it is still under your late uncles nameMoreover, I never used that phone, since I had an I-phone from the company. So, theres no way they are going to track me with the call log or sim.

What about your visa ?

Its still valid, as I had only asked for an emergency leave for a weekso, I will just go back and submit my resignation.

How will you get in to the hospital without being seen?

Dont worry JayaI have to do this, to have some peace of mindI think I will fly out tonight..

**************************

At Dubai,

But why do you want to resign? Maybe you could just take few days off

It is not enough Ram, as you know my parents are alone back home and they need me nowTo tell you the truth, I have even snagged a job at Axis bank in Chennai35 years is a long timewe need the change of scenery..

I understandwe can speed up with the formalities today and if you agree, we will transfer your End of services to your account in Chennai..

Thats great RamThanks a lot

While walking out of his office building, Ranganathan smiled at the ease at which the official formalities got completed and they even booked the return ticket for him to get back home.

**************************

Now, to the hospital,

Ranganathan walked towards the receptionmaybe I need to knock someone down and get dressed as one of the staff, but which is his room?

Excuse me sir, which room is Professor Brian admitted in ? asked Ranganathan to the receptionist.

Are you a friend of his ?

An acquaintance, my daughter used to attend his classhow is he now?

Unfortunately, Professor Brian was declared brain dead last night and so, the respirators were removed. His body will be sent back home to his relatives.

How unfortunate !!!, said RanganathanThank you for the information.unfortunate, my foot !!!

Hello, Jayahes gone !!! the b***** is gone

I know, I saw in the news early morningplease come back home

I will be there for breakfastlets have Idli green mint chutney

Anything you want Raghu, just come back to us

As he got into the cab to go to the airport, Raghu thought to himself, at least the bugger knew why I did it to himThats enough for meI have avenged my daughters tearsThats enough for me !!!

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