Two thermocol posts stood firmly on either side of the entrance gate. A wooden stand, decorated with artificial flowers, held names of both wedding prospects displayed in colourful letters. Laughter and music brought in their essence through friends and relatives, the house remained involved in the feast. Except, for one individual. Only one room in that house locked itself away from the grandeur. On the eve of her marriage, she remained separated from the event, due to circumstances that prompted her to remain aloof. Her heart disquiet about it, she fidgeted and constantly cast her gaze on the door. A thought came quickly rushing in; but she was stuck at one place. She remembered her father, who might have dreamt of a day when he finally became a free man. That’s what people used to tell him.
‘Are you angry?’ she had asked him when she broke his favourite flower pot, one which he used to keep in his room and water it every single day. It was not intentional, she was young, she was learning. That is how her father had responded to her question. He was neither angry nor disappointed. She could promise she saw a glitter in his eyes; a smile full of warmth.
That same figure took care of those who mattered so much to him. And even though some ended up hurting him, he never let that hurt turn into something vengeful that got in the way of his family. She took his trait as one of the most unique and pure things in life, a quality she would not get from others; something she would not look for in others. Transitioning from innocence, the guiltlessness, began a life which appeared harsh, he was there for her through all the changing phases. Especially after her mother passed away. He had tried to be there for her as a family.
There were days when he would not understand her, and she would coil herself in a corner, weeping away her misery. Some days, he was the best man she had ever come across. Most honest, loving, caring.
But today, her thoughts went past all her father’s virtues. What she thought deliberately overshadowed all that she had known so far, yet she experienced a deep cut induced by a sharp object that bore through her heart, almost dislocating it from its rightful place. Outside her room, other quarters of her house were seeped in joy, so much so that her grief was reduced to a minor error, like a pin-drop silence; tiny, unheard.
When regret started to fill up her lungs, she heard a knock on the door. It did not surprise her, for she already knew who it might be. Upon receiving no response, someone gently turned the knob, and peeked through. She did not turn to look, and sitting quietly on a chair anticipated her fate. She wore her bridal attire, bangles on both hands, and a gold necklace. Her father found her peculiar.
‘Are you ready?’ his question broke the silence in the room.
She, on the other hand, expected her father to understand that she was trying to hide. The sentence sent an unknowing jolt through her spine. She was hiding, of course, but he was also the very reason for it.
‘Come, guests are here. They are waiting for you.’
He was about to leave but stopped right near the door frame.
‘Is this everything that you had talked about?’ she pondered before asking him quietly. He moved just enough to close to the door, and stared at his daughter. The noise outside remained as it was.
She took notice of the frailness that had become apparent in his face. Sweat glistening on the forehead, his eyes came to a strange halt. ‘What do you mean?’
‘You said that someday, whatever we have suffered from, whatever we have gone through, there will be an end to it. There will be something new. Do you think this is it?’
Her father stood still, partly confused at her stance, partly distracted by the onslaught of guests. She felt a shift in the air between them. And in that, she was able to figure out what had been tormenting her so long.
The sensation that she was hurting her father! Her whole world consisted of this man, in all the realms she had found him the most sensible. But what surprised her the most was how these thoughts had always pointed at one thing: her life.
It had turned into an unseen confinement, which she carried along with her and let it build walls around that were strenuously complex, getting heavier with passing time. She had not realized when it had turned into one; but she was thoroughly aware of stepping out from behind it, and she experienced a fear.
‘How will I understand so much,’ her father uttered in a low voice. ‘All my concern is about you.’
‘Then why does it scare me?’ Her subconscious took over and expressed vividly what she enclosed within herself.
In a while, everything appeared distorted. The ground they were both standing on lost its familiarity. He appeared to be poles apart from her.
He blinked a few times, then stared right at her. ‘Why are you bringing this up again?’ he asked dryly.
The thickness of silence swallowed even the most remote noises. Only its tremors were experienced within.
‘Because this feels incomplete; I am not satisfied. Not with how I have lived life for so long, but how at every step I have thought about not hurting you, how I crafted myself so I could never be deprived of your love. Do you know what I must have lost?’
For a minute, everything seemed to have stopped in its place. She had spoken the truth, now everything else awaited the aftermath. A storm raging at sea and sinking the boat. But whatever was expected in its violent form, did not happen.
‘I can’t marry him,’ she spoke these words in an almost whisper. Her father almost did not hear it.
His eyes did not move. She saw nothing, but felt it pierce through her heart.
She knew she had a choice of turning things around in her favour. But she also knew that choice was a breach of her own secret; living in the shadows, as much as she was accustomed to, a burst of light made her heart flinch.
‘You don’t want to create a scene here, in a house full of people.’ He retorted. ‘Think with your senses.’
‘I don’t know if there is anything rational anymore. I gave up everything because I thought you would stay. I lost my mother, my career, Meghna..’ she stopped after uttering the last word.
She witnessed a similar rage flicker in his eyes as he stood at the door without even moving. She couldn’t believe it was happening again.
‘I did this for you. Whatever I have been doing, is solely because deep down I feel, maybe, maybe I have not given you enough.’ His voice trembled, even as his eyes turned moist. He looked like he had confessed to a hideous crime.
She knew he was speaking the truth. Yet, it was her own revelation which she could not unsee. From the clash of truths was born a distance, which from that day on, would only grow till the end of time.
‘What went wrong with my upbringing? What went wrong, tell me?’ Tears fell from his eyes, as he looked at his daughter with anguish.
Everything. Since the day she considered her truth smaller than her father’s love. It had subsided only to grow cruel.
Nothing changed. The world outside remained the same. The hubbub inside their house remained the same. The name of the wedding prospects remained in the same place. But what had changed was the dynamic of their relationship. A father’s care that had turned venomous. A daughter’s love that drank all of it.