The day I turned Thirty, I received the ultimate gift of my life. For years I’d been mourning the loss of my beloved wife, my first love. That day, I lost myself, a part of me. After spending several years together with her, I had realized that her absence killed me every day. Life without her was miserable. It is wisely said that life without a companion is like a rudderless boat. I felt like a man rescued from shipwreck. My love for her was so intense that no one could fill the void created by her in my life except one person. She was my daughter, the one who completed my life. She was a complete package of happiness, the only joy of my life. She brought smile on my face whenever I felt lonely or depressed. For her, I was a doting daddy who loved her more than anyone. As she turned Two, I struggled to raise her. I had a dual role to play, that of a mother and a father. But I never wanted her to miss her mother. I would often turn speechless whenever she asked me about her mother. This confrontation distressed me. I used to control my emotions whenever I was subjected to the same question again and again.
At Five, I decided to enroll her to a school where famous people studied. At first ,she hesitated for the fear of missing me, but eventually she acquiesced to my demands. I wanted her to excel in life, to be someone famous. She had a supportive and an erudite teacher, who encouraged and motivated her throughout her school life. As she grew up, I learned that she craved for maternal love. It was the first time I realized that life was strange. I struggled everyday to play this dual role of a father and a mother, but she still missed her mother. I had no answers to her questions. Her fractious behaviour would anger me at times but I would control myself. Those days I worked in MTNL. Owing to this, I would get to come home early. I used to visit her school to pick her up. I would stand outside her classroom and observe her, her every single gesture and actions. I would smile from the window as my daughter answered every question that her teacher asked. As the school bell rings, she would come running towards me and hug me. We would drive to the Juhu Garden and stroll there for hours. She would play inside the Airplane structure. She would slide from the slides. During one such day, she fell down from the slide and injured herself. My heart skipped a beat when I saw my daughter lying on a pool of blood. She was nursing her fractured legs. I took 3 weeks leave and decided to take care of her. I would feed her, cook delicious food and play games with her. The doctor said that it was quite common and such injuries do happen to kids of her age. She was slowly recovering but she found it difficult to walk. I would assist her as she walked in our building compound. I held her fingers as she took baby steps. Her heart would yearn to play with the kids from our society as we walked. A walking stick helped her to regain her balance. That was the time, I was quite sure that she must have missed her mother. But I never let that happen.
At Twelve, she made me feel that she was growing up quickly. That was the time, she desperately missed her mother. However hard I tried to play a mothers role, but there are few things which only a mother could understand. It was that phase, where my grown up was maturing into a woman. It is said that girls would share such sensitive things only to their mothers and sisters. That was when I realized the importance of a woman in my life. My wife would have taken care of her. But soon my beloved learned things. She decided to cope up with life. She started taking up responsibilities. She learned cooking from our neighbours and never let me inside the kitchen. It was then I realized that my little baby was growing up quickly. As days passed, she started improving her culinary skills. She would cook delicious food items for me. She was good at studies. I still remember the day when she drenched her bed with tears when she secured 2nd rank in Class 9. It was difficult for me to appease her as she was brilliant in studies. At Fifteen, she secured Merit position in CBSE boards and I became a proud daddy of a rank holder. I distributed sweets to my friends and neighbors to celebrate my daughters achievement. Tears welled in my eyes when she said that her mother would be happy to see her achievement. Even I believed so. My daughter was turning into a beautiful woman. My friends often used to compliment her for her beauty.
At Eighteen , she enrolled for Engineering in a top Engineering college. But for that she would require to relocate to New Delhi and live in a hostel. I quickly learned that I would require to train my mind to live without her. She pursued her higher education in New Delhi. My fragile heart could not accept her absence. I decided to take Voluntary retirement from my work for my daughter and went to live with her. I could still remember the happiness and smile on her face when she saw me. I hugged her so tight that no one could separate me and my daughter. I soon took up a job of an editor in Navbharat Times. She would come up with witty ideas and concepts for the editorial sections. As she turned Twenty, she exhibited her creative side. She organised some events in her college – IIT, Delhi. She was the General Secretary of the Students Council.
My face gleamed with pride when I was invited for an annual award function at the IIT. My daughter was awarded with the ‘best student of IIT’ award for her achievements. She never ceased to make me proud. I missed my wife that day. Tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks as she invited me to the podium. Every one appreciated my daughter for her achievements. I would not stop smiling. She thanked me in front of over thousand people and cited that I was the man behind all her achievements. I could not control the tears rolling from my eyes as I hugged her. I soon realized that I was turning old, I thought that I should get her married to a handsome man. She soon completed her higher studies from IIT. I requested her to get married. She insisted that she won’t get married before completing her MBA. She had her own priorities and goals in life. As she turned Twenty Five, she introduced me to a handsome man, just like what I had envisioned for my daughter. She said that she loved him and wanted to marry him. She reduced my work of searching a groom. I smiled at both of them and got them married after they completed their MBA. They both worked in the same Organization. She worked in Sales and my son in law managed the Finance department. She gave birth to a beautiful girl. It was a proud moment for me as I held the feeble being on my hands. Her tender body, soft fingers and pretty face reminded me of her mother, my daughter. The baby grew up to be pretty girl just like my daughter, her mother. But, by that time I had already turned into an old man. I would spend my time with my granddaughter , often teaching and playing games with her. I would narrate her mother’s achievements to her.
When I turned Eighty, I saw myself lying on the bed. I was turning to a weak old man with drooping shoulders. I could hardly see and hear anything. But I always wanted to tell my daughter a secret. The year I turned Thirty, I received the ultimate gift of my life. For years I’d been mourning the loss of my beloved wife, my first love. She had perished during her pregnancy, giving birth to a child which never saw the world. I had lost my wife and my child. My life would have been a mess if I hadn’t met a beautiful angel, my pride possession. I saw a new born baby lying on the street, unattended, screeching and surrounded by people. And there were none ,who were willing to accept her. I took her home and cleaned her. This angel later turned out to be the girl who transformed my life upside. My life was full of sorrow before I met her but she transformed my melancholies into joy. My feeble heart wanted to tell her this truth whenever she bombarded me with several questions about her mother. I would blatantly refuse to budge as I never wanted to hurt her. But today I mustered enough courage to say her the secret, my deep secret.
As I lie on the bed, I look around people who stand by my side. I see my grand children , my son in law and my beloved daughter. Her face had turned ashen because of crying. I didn’t want her to cry. For all these years I had been her father and a mother. How could I tell her that I was not her father. I wish I could tell her everything, but I just couldn’t. I could visualize angel of death inviting me. I had lots to say to my beloved daughter. I wanted to share her the secrets. I smiled at them as I closed my eyes for once and forever. And there was complete silence!
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