Mahi you came into my world and changed it. Tiny as you were, you left an impression everywhere. Every little thing you needed became a necessity; every small moment became an image, a memory in my mind. Every burp, the number of outfits you changed, everything became a part of my life. Before I could memorise the features of your face, we started concreting memories.
I still recall everything Time tables, Car Pools, Activity Classes, Meals, all resulting in a bigger to do list for me. In all that the only thing I was guilty of is forgetting to have my coffee on most days. At least you got me off that caffeine addiction.
I remember there were problems before that day. Accusations, mistakes, error of judgement, all that and more, happening again and again and I didn’t have an excuse or an explanation.
“We need to talk, you have to do something. Nothing is working! It’s time to admit, this is serious. I cannot risk Mahi’s life. I cannot lose her also. So you have to go.”
Your mother’s words still haunt me. How could I hurt you Mahi, you are my world. But no one listened or cared. I was taken away. I was brought here.
“Daddy, why didn’t you?” I heard you cry. And I wanted to explain why I didn’t do anything, but before I could, she took you away. I was alone but I have to be strong Mahi, for you.
I will forget everything eventually, they say. But Mahi Sweetie don’t believe them, Daddy remembers and loves you forever.
Mahi read the page from the diary 15 years ago. That day he was talking about was forever etched in her memory. She was almost 8 looking forward to her birthday next month. It had been about a year since the problems with her dad had started, just a few months after Neev came into their lives. In the beginning her mom kept assuring her that everything would be alright. But now they had a nanny, Maasi they called her.
Mahi was old enough to understand that her mom needed to take care of her dad, and Maasi was there to help. Neev, her brother had just begun to crawl about the house. So her mom had installed child gates on the top of the stairs. She could not be there all the time, so her Mommy ensured that everything was safe for both of them. And the gates must be closed at all times was their first house rule.
That day her Mom had gone out for to the neighbours for a few minutes. Mom needed help planning Mahi’s Birthday Party. Her mom had closed the gates before going out. Mahi was so happy that her dad was home, they hardly ever got to meet. But she knew daddy was busy and Mahi was not going to disturb him. She finished drawing the picture of her family, and had run to her daddy to show him her work of art.
He acknowledged the drawing absently and didn’t ask about Neev at all. That is when Mahi realised that her dad was having one of his bad times. She remembered thinking that he was beginning to have a lot of those, as she pleaded with him to sit down. That is when Mahi also saw Maasi go to the kitchen to get Neev’s milk.
And then it happened all too quickly for Mahi to react. Her father suddenly stormed down the stairs, and they all heard Neev’s scream! Her daddy continued walking out the door as her Mom walked in and Maasi ran out of the kitchen. No one realised what happened until her Mother reached the bottom of the stairs. That is when they all saw Neev, lying motionless. Mahi looked back; her Dad had forgotten to close the gate in his hurry to go out.
That day changed a lot for Mahi. Her mother’s life stopped; she kept blaming herself for letting him stay in. Her Mom also could never forgive her father. Mahi could never forget him. The first time she visited him a few years later, she found the diary. She was caught by surprise at the vivid details of her. Mahi now knew it was the Dementia; her father’s brain had degenerated slowly, but even today he remembered his 7 year old daughter and he never knew his eleven month old son.
Memories are tricky even to a functional mind, they depend on perspective. Mahi always wondered why her father forgot Neev. She could not fault him for remembering her, but in forgetting Neev something was wrong, damaged even if he did not understand. They all were left broken that day, in different ways. Mahi wanted to forgive her father, but she regretted every moment for being his only memory.