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Disclaimer – This is a work of fiction
The 7 am alarm boomed violently as the morning sun peeped in through my window to welcome me to a new day. Finally I woke up as my eyes remained partially opened. I rubbed my eyes as I stood near the window to observe the young morning sky which displayed a wide gamut of colors ranging from Red to Orange. It was then I realized that I failed to bid adieu to the stars and the moons which I loved watching every night. They surely must have been disappointed. My hair was mussed up as I had messed it up.
“Gudiya Bitya!,” I looked behind to the sight of a man , strong and tall. It was my dearest Papa, whom I loved more than anyone in this world. He had a broad shoulder and a perfect physique. The one thing which I disliked about my Papa was that he never cared for himself. The rugged look of his face only made him look old although he was a middle aged man. The stubble on his face would remind you of some Bollywood action hero of the 70’s era.
“Papa..,” I smiled and hugged him. He kissed me on my soft pink cheeks.”Common, brush your teeth,” He asked me.
“Hurry up,” He said as I quickly rushed towards the bathroom. I got myself ready and wore my brand new favourite frock which Papa bought me weeks ago. He neatly oiled my hair and combed it.
“Where are we going so early Papa?,”I asked with a shade of innocence.
“You are going to school today,” Myfather announced and continued, “Govt of India has started with this new plan of setting up school at village level and I don’t want you to sit at home and do nothing,” He smiled.
“Papa, I don’t want to go to school,”I grimaced.
“Can Papa ask you something?,”Papa said as he carefully applied talcum powder on my face.
“Ask na Papa,” I said. “What do you want to become when you grow up?,”
“I want to become that Officer who comes to office with cool shades and travels on car,” I, like an innocent kid told him.
“Yes, you mean the IAS Officer, right,”He asked me. “Yes,” I nodded my head.
“For that you need to study and toil hard and for that you need to go to school,” Father said.
“Yes Papa. You are right,”I said. “Let’s go,” I smiled. “Come,” He asked me to climb over his shoulders. Papa always carried me on his back. He loved me so much that he won’t let me walk anywhere. Papa’s shoulder served as a vehicle which transported me everywhere. Through his company and constant support, I was determined of a great future. I firmly held his neck and sat over his shoulder talking about things which bothered me.
“Papa, I miss Maa,”I said to him.
“Aww Gudiya!, don’t be sad,”
“We would be meeting her at night,”He continued.
“Papa, you always say this to me. You know every kid in our neighborhood has mother except me. I want to meet Maa,” Iargued. “Ok, let’s strike a deal. You come home after school and we both meet Maa,” I got down from my Papa’s shoulder. That was an unforgettable day in my life. As a 6 year old, I respected my Father very much. He was my life, my hero and everything. But whenever he was confronted with the same question of meeting Maa, he became low. There was a constant feeling which bothered him every time I questioned him about her. That was the first day of my school and we were taught A, B, C, and D alphabets…
I came home at 3 pm. I took a power nap before I neatly organized and cleaned my house. I never wanted Papa to do all the work and I assisted him in every possible way and means. Papa came back home from work at 6 pm. He got fresh and we both sat together to cook our evening supper. “So how was my cute Gudiya’s first day at school today?,”Papa got me my favorite Channa from Raghav Kaka’s shop. He used to bring that every day just because I liked it. “It was good Papa,” I said as I washed the tomatoes and Potatoes. I often assisted Papa in chopping the vegetables. He would then prepare the meal. He cooked ‘Dal Chawal’ for us and we both had our dinner together. It was 10 pm and like every night, we sat on the Veranda watching the Night sky.
“Papa, you promised to show me Maa. I hope you remember,” I like an obedient child said to my father.
“I do dear, look there she is. Do you see how she smiles at us. Wave her hello!,” Papa pointed his fingers towards the bright twinkling star in the Night Sky.
“Stop fooling me Papa. I am not a kid anymore,”I got vexed. “I want to know where my mother is,” I screamed at him.
“Radha…she is your mother,”Papa tried his best to explain me. “No…you are lying,” I shouted at him.
Papa slapped me as tears welled up in his eyes. “Papa..You slapped your Gudiya,” I said with a sad face.
“I am sorry Beta..I am sorry..How do I tell that your Mother is happily living a peaceful life in heaven under the guidance of Almighty,” He broke into tears.
“I am not strong Radha. I am tired of fooling you every day and today you persuaded me to say that your mother died,”He controlled himself. “Papa…,”A tear drop rolled down my soft cheeks as I heard the words uttered by him .I wept and I couldn’t control my tears. Papa tried his best to console me for I had been an innocent child who never knew about my Maa’s death. After sometime, I apologized to Papa. Maa had kicked the bucket when I was a 3 month old baby.
I sat on his laps as he told me about Maa’s last wish. “Your mother loved you like crazy just as I loved her. She wanted to see you as a successful person, but I am sad that she was God’s favorite and he took him early,” He said, ruffling my hair. I always had a craving for mothers love but my Papa never let that happen. He gave me everything he could and that’s why he never let me feel my Maa’s absence. He never re-married for me and never failed to provide me unconditional love.
“I want you to fulfill her dreams and desire of becoming a famous person one day. You should become someone famous and make me proud. Will you do that Radha?,” he asked me. “Yes Papa, “I said to him. I held my father tightly as we looked at the night sky.
“Probably that is the day I am eagerly waiting for. I am sure you will make me and your Maa proud. I am waiting for that Moment,”
He cleared his throat and continued, “I shall do everything to support you in your education and the day you succeed in life, that day shall be the best day of my life. I won’t mind dying that moment itself for my desires would have been fulfilled,” He smiled.
“I shall happily meet your mother and tell her about your achievements,” He added.
“No Papa…you will be with me forever and I will make you both proud,” I hugged my Papa tightly. That was the day when I witnessed tears from my father’s eyes. I never saw my Papa break into tears before; probably I had pestered him to say things which weren’t soothing. I learned a lot that day and that was the day which motivated me to excel in life. I worked hard and harder as days passed. My sole intention in life was to make my father proud. For a man who worked as a sweeper at the Collector Bhavan with a minimum wage, I wanted the entire world to know that even a sweeper’s daughter could be an IAS Officer. As days passed, I grew tall and strong and on the other hand Papa grew weak and old. His shoulders started drooping. I got scholarships from various institutions that supported me for my education. I successfully cleared the UPSC Exams. The day I turned 24, there was a smile on my Papa’s face. He was the happiest person on Earth as I was posted as the Collector in Zailpur, Himachal Pradesh, the village where I grew up. Father would brag about my achievements to everyone in our village. Everyday Papa saluted me at office whenever I entered the Collector Bhavan. I smile at him and seek blessings from him by touching his feet. It was unusual for a collector to touch a sweeper’s feet. Others might find that gesture weird, but, he was the man behind my success. I excelled and became popular. I tried to address everyone’s problems in my village and because of this the Himachal Pradesh Government decided to felicitate me with the “Young Achiever” Award. I was about to receive an award from the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.
The day arrived and the award ceremony was to be held at the Governor Mahal. Everyone was present including the MLA’s and various State Ministers. I was called to the stage by the host. I asked my Papa to come on the stage. He sat along with the Governor of Himachal Pradesh. Papa was dressed in his favorite Safari Suit.
“Good Morning All,”I began my speech.
“Today, I might be known to you as Radha Karat, the IAS Officer for Zailpur, but I have to tell you that I was a little kid born in this village with high hopes of excelling some day. I should tell you that my initial days of life have been full of struggle but I should also let you know that those days were the best days of my life. Those were the days where I assisted my Papa in household work. That was a tender age where I derived worldly pleasures by seeing the twinkling stars in the Night Sky. Never did I realize that one day I would be receiving an award from the Governor,” I smiled. Everyone clapped. I could see my father’s face gleam with pride as he sat next to the Governor.
I continued, “I want to tell you that he is the man who is responsible for everything, the sole reason for what I am today,” I pointed towards my father.
“The tears flowing from my eyes are tears of joy which represents the hard work and struggles which my Papa suffered to make me reach this level. I salute my father today. I am sure this was the day you were waiting for Papa. Look, I have made you proud,”I said, looking at my father who smiled at me.
“I have made you and Maa proud and I am very happy. I would like to receive this award from my Papa. I hope you won’t mind this Governor Sir,” I smiled at the Governor. The Governor agreed to this and my Papa was called to bestow the honour upon me.
My Papa sat on the Chair next to the governor with a smiling face. His eyes, wide open and his hair neatly combed. He, like an innocent baby smiled. I held his shoulder and he fell down.
“Radha, love you dear. You made us proud…Excel in life…God bless you,” I could read the last few words from his mind.
“Papa, you waited for this,
I know I made you proud,
you were happy and ecstatic,
Little did you know,
That you left me all alone,
to announce this news to Mother,
I feel like a rudderless boat now,
with no support and help,
Papa, WHY?, Why Papa? ”
Several thoughts ran in my mind as I saw my Papa who lay there unconscious.