Man of my Dreams & Reality
In the age of HD clarity, papa was living with a blurred vision. Born with problematic eyes wherein since a very early age, he had to bear the burden of heavy glasses, his movement was restricted so much that while playing with his cousins and friends, when everyone climbed trees and ate fruits and berries, he was the one who would stand beside the tree alone and wait for others to throw some to him, for him to really eat any of it. His childhood was not as notorious as other children had it because of the fact that the burden he carried was way larger than a child of his age was designed to carry.
Since I was born, I had always seen him with glasses carrying a minimum power of -25. His spectacles would have to be ordered in advance from Bangalore and he would wear hard lenses which were made out of glass. It is said that he had chicken pox inside his eyes and since then his retina started degenerating. For all those who have no idea about it, retina is a curtain like thing behind the visible portion of eyes. It is connected to the brain and the image that is formed on retina is understood by the brain as what we see through eyes. This part of the eye was getting destroyed by every passing day and sadly this had no cure. Cataract operations and consultations with some of the best eye specialists gave us an insight about it and made us aware of the situation. In layman’s language he could not see with one of his eye and the other one could now just form some outline of the object it could detect. If I passed in front of his eyes, and the eyes failed to focus on me, he would either not notice me or even if he did, it would just form an outline of me. Once I utter the word “Papa”, he will recognise me!
Amidst this, he was not only working and earning the bread and butter for the family, he was travelling through buses and metros and autos everyday to highways and outskirts of the city. There have been instances where he could not see a bus and had a number of accidents! Can you imagine what missing out a bus could mean? 3 days a week, he would come back home hurt, sometimes with scratches on his arms, sometimes the blood from his knees peeping out of the holes of his pants, sometimes a swollen wrist and sometimes backache. He would fall down sometimes, crash on something, hurt himself and come back home and never tell us. We would have to figure things out from the kind of behaviour he had that day or his fall in appetite or other visible injuries on this legs and arms. We told him to sit back at home and enjoy life as it came, afterall he taught us that money wasn’t everything! But a day or two at home and he would start thinking of himself as a burden on everyone. He wanted to work so hard, achieve so much for his family that sitting at home for a day made him question his abilities and made him think that he was handicapped by life and so was made to sit at home without a choice. So he continued working, afterall mental health is a part of his overall well being too!
As a child I never knew anyone who would walk as fast as he did. I literally had to run to match his normal speed. But now he walked at a speed of a tortoise, for his eyes pulled him back and slowed him down drastically. He also had severe blood pressure problems which resulted in vertigo, black outs and medicinal support for keeping a check on his heart rate and sleep deprivation. So I was always in his arms as a child. When you think you will fall, hold the most precious thing in your hand and you will never fall down because of the fear that the thing you treasure the most might fall with you and you might hurt it. So was the case with my Papa. He always held me in his arms till his arms could manage my weight.
I remember that unlike my brother I would not go to places like my aunt’s or uncle’s or anywhere for that matter, for the sole reason of getting away from my papa. I wanted him, once he was back from work, no matter what! As a kid, one day when I went to my masi’s place with all my cousins, suddenly when it got dark, it dawned upon me that I had to sleep without Papa. I said a ‘Yes’ to the night stay on continued persuasion, without thinking that night stay meant spending a night without him. I would either sleep on his chest or on his back or atleast with him, hugging him tight. This feeling got me restless and I called him on the landline we had at home from masi’s place. I was a kid, so time did not mean anything to me but papa did. At around 10.30 I called him and cried that “Papa, please come and take me, I can’t be here without you!” Maa tried to explain me that it was too late at night and that papa will come early in the morning to get me but I insisted on talking to papa. As soon as I heard his voice, I broke down and wasted my maa’s energy in explaining me the situation. By 12, my papa was at my masi’s gate with a chocolate in his hand and eyes searching for me. As soon as I called, he decided to come and get me. In haste he did not even eat his dinner because something was way too important for him than food that night. I was waiting for him too, as he never told me to sleep for a night there without him. We reached home by 2 in the morning and that was the last day my masi ever told me to stay back at her place.
This is how stubborn I was to get to my papa.
I wish I was this stubborn on 9th of February too!