Daddy came home today. I’d been waiting the entire week. He was so happy when I showed him my drawing. He brought me chocolates, a whole box, and a doll. We played hide and seek after that. I won, like always. After that he took me out for ice cream, chocolate cone and I dropped it over my shirt we laughed so much when I tried to eat it from my shirt. I want him to finish his work and come back home.
Amma never wants to play anymore and akka comes back late all the time. I want daddy to come again.
Chocolates, really chocolates, who did he think I was, how old did he think I was or did he just not remember. He didn’t care. Didn’t care to ask if I’d been picked for soccer, if I’d settled down in this godforsaken new school. Ass.
Playing and laughing with Ramya as though nothing had happened. And her skipping off happily with “Daddy” to have her ice cream. What did she know; Amma sulked in the corner as always mum on the proceedings. Probably just happy that the shouting had stopped.
I wanted him to hurt, hurt like me; he seemed so chill, so okay with uprooting me and my life. All the looks in school, the glances, the muted whispers around my locker; everyone knew; And now I have to prep for this test. I could just die.
Saturday, writing the word hurts, thinking it hurts, my gut is shrinking away into a knot. He showed up on time this time though, telling him off worked.
Smiling that smile, leaning against the wall, shrieking with Ramya, running around the house with her. Bhavya sulked in the corner as always. She’d closed up so quickly, her emotions locked away in that diary of hers. And she’s always hanging out with that boy Athul; soccer practice, my foot.
And he had the balls to ask me to come for ice cream. What did he think, a butterscotch shared would solve us? Ass. But somehow he didn’t press this time, he didn’t beg. Just once, once he asked. Didn’t he want to try to make me give in anymore? Ramya looked so happy when she came back, her hands sticky with chocolate smeared over her shirt. He’d always been a good actor. What did she know?
I had the suitcase ready for him, the last of his clothes, his books; I’d stuffed them into the bag, angry, disorganized; I wanted him to remember I hurt when he unpacked, wanted him to remember me ironing his clothes when he ironed them, remember me stacking his books when he saw their dogs’ ears. Was that regret in his eyes; my imagination ran wilder than usual today as I handed him the case. He smiled and grasped the handle, our hands touched, electricity flew, I pulled my hand away. I would not be weak again. I looked away. I was strong this time. No tears. He declined dinner as usual, I don’t know if its fear driving him away, regret or some weird twisted love. He hugged Ramya, the same story of work, important big people work kept her happy. I wonder how long that’ll last. Bhavya stayed in her room. Music on headphones again I guess or on the phone. I closed the door the latch sliding home, pictured him making his way down the stairs, looking up at the window from where I waved him off, watching his bike turning the corner, that final honk as he turned. He’d left each day and yet never left. Now he returns each week and yet he’s not really back. A part of me, that part I hate spoke again today; ‘Come back, Come back’.
Picture – The Nizam’s letters at The Chowmahalla palace, Hyderabad