The envelope was in tatters and the pieces of paper held within were yellowing, the writing on it fading. His eyes had lost their youthful charm, and age had caught up with them, but he could still remember her voice when he read “Dude”, only she could come up with the weirdest of names for him. He had not liked a single one, but Dude stuck, and he had learnt to love that name because she loved to call him that.
I know you are angry and believe me I understand your anger. I had everything and I walked away, isn’t that exactly what you think. And you are so right to think that. I understand, but you never did. I really did not want to be your disappointment; I was your pride and your achievement. But Life has a weird sense of Humour, and the tricks it plays are nasty.
I am sure you recall the day when we met Nivan for the first time. You were teaching me to drive when I managed to run over his chappal. I remember we both thankful that he was quick and I did not run over his foot. And what impressed you the most about him was the fact that he was soft spoken and did not create a scene. I scoffed when we spoke about him; I was skeptical about the fact that he could really be good. ‘Everyone always has a hidden agenda’ and I could not see life any other way, I was bitter and thought everything around us needed to be changed but you always saw the best in everything.
I did not like Nivan much and hated the fact that he had moved in next door, that meant dealing with him on a daily basis. Unfortunately we went to work at the same time, and both of you thought that it would be safer for everyone around that he drop me while going to work rather than me learning to drive. How the two of you laughed at that joke, I was not impressed. But then you had decided and I complied, I did always listen to you, didn’t I?
I began to see we had a lot in common listening to Nivan talk. Oh I refused to talk to him, just because it was an hour and a half drive, did not mean I would talk to him. But I listened and began to be impressed. It wasn’t long before I began to speak too. Telling him my aspirations and revealing my dreams. We discussed about things that I knew you wouldn’t understand. I knew you would not want me wasting my time over social causes, pointless exercises you called them.
But Nivan understood all of it, and he helped me start working on my dream. I knew you would be mad if you knew where we used to go on the weekends. But “Ashray” was my means to get what I wanted. And Nivan had become a part of my dreams. I wish I had come to you earlier, told you the truth, but I hadn’t realised the truth myself. In fact you saw it before I could, when you found out from Prem Uncle that I was skipping office. I regretted everything that day, not telling you earlier, taking up that job offer at your friends office, and I hated having lying to you, but that day I what I regretted the most was the fact that you did not understand me and what I wanted to do. How could you not understand your own but see the best in the world?
We fought and argued, and through it all you blamed Nivan. I could not understand what he had to do with me following my dreams. But all the drama made me realise how much Nivan meant to me. So when he asked me to go along with him, I just did. I really wasn’t thinking of you, I did not see I was walking away from you. It had been you and me all along, I did not understand what my action would do to you. Can I say sorry now? Or is it just an empty word to you?
I am sure you are wondering why I am writing to you now, It is not to ask for your forgiveness, because insensitivity cannot be forgiven. I could not forgive yours and I cannot force you to forgive mine. What I ask for is a favour. You see, it is still you and me against the world, just like always. That I realised never changed, especially when I lost Nivan to the path we had chosen to tread on, his death caused by the very world we were trying to change. Who am I to complain when such gruesomeness exists in this world?
I am writing to you on behalf of a two month old who has already lost her father and is about to lose her mother. I need you to come and help me one last time – To come and see me and to forget that I left without thinking of you, because that moment ruined our family forever. Come and make my family whole again. More so, I need you to come for her, take her away, from here. She has no one but you after I am gone. Please Dad, take her raise her to be better than I ever was. It will be you and her against the world. Always.
When it was finished, he was in tears. And he would cry every time he read it.
Even after so many years, he still had not gotten over the shock of the things that had transpired. He was bitter over how he and his daughter had grown apart. He was sad that his annoyance had driven them apart and how unfeeling, unaccepting and unsympathetic he had become towards her. It had all happened so quickly and he was left alone and brooding, until the day he got the letter.
And he had brought Nikita home. How could he not? She was his granddaughter, the child of his only child. How could he not go to her when she needed him? And he had done exactly what she asked of him, he had raised Nikita to be just like her perfect Mom. But he had also raised himself to be a more understanding father the second time around.