Thursday, 28 April 2011
A tale of a dog's tail
Her vision blurred with tears in her eyes. She tried to hold back her tears but a drop came rolling down her cheek. She quickly looked down so that the crowd gathered around her did not notice it. She was tugging at her dad’s hand. The man muttered something and went back to sleep. He was completely intoxicated. She had been through this embarrassment several times. Her dad would consume alcohol till he could no longer walk or when the shop closed and then start walking back, rather faltering back home. When he could no longer walk, he would drop down on the ground and lie there, till someone informed her or till his senses were clear.
This time it was the neighboring kid Somu, who had come running to tell Sandhya about her dad. He was walking back from school, when he noticed a small crowd around a man. When he looked closely, he saw it was Sandhya akka’s ‘appa’. He was panting hard when Sandhya was removing the dried clothes in front of her home. After Sandhya heard about this, she dropped the clothes that were in her hand and ran with Somu. When she reached the place, the crowd was diluted. After all, how long can people watch a drunken man muttering and gesturing something. The entertainment quotient was very poor. For some time, after watching the “tamasha”, people remembered they had some purpose in life and had to move on. When Sandhya called her “appa” (dad), he responded something which she did not understand. She asked him to get up and pulled at his hand, as Somu looked on.
Sandhya was in her early 20’s. She was studying to be an Engineer. She was a tall lean girl with a slim figure. She had sharp features which made her look very beautiful. Sandhya’s appa had been a supervisor in a manufacturing unit. He had lost his job recently after he had taken to alcohol seriously. His employers had been kind enough to give him many chances. They knew he would a valuable asset to their company, if he were to ever get back to what he had been. Earlier, he had been an occasional drinker. He drank in social gatherings with friends or in the eve of a marriage party, where all his friends ganged up and played a few games of cards. As years passed, the occasion would come every Sunday. Sunday was a holiday and the man of the house got to do whatever he wanted. Slowly, everyday became a Sunday. Sandhya’s ‘amma’ had been a perfect housemaker. It was tough to find a speck of dust in her home earlier. Now, ‘amma’ had started working as a personal secretary in an office nearby to make the ends meet. Her house was in tatters and her home was almost broken.
Sandhya’s Appa had renounced everything and had surrendered himself to the God of intoxication, the Devil perhaps. While it had become a routine for appa to drink all the waking time, it was still difficult for Sandhya to accept that her dad was a drunkard. Her head would bow in shame, whenever her friends spoke about their dad’s. Sandhya had been scared of such conversations. One of her friends had gotten too nosey once and had almost irked Sandhya. Somehow she had saved herself from those situations. Only the silence in the dark could describe her pains, for she dared to converse with the silence alone. She often cried alone and her friend was her pillow who always listened and took her tears, never asking her any questions. She often asked God in silence, what she did to be blessed with a father like this. What was her fault? What was her mother’s?
After trying to wake her dad for a long time, she splashed the water from the Pepsi bottle that Somu had managed to gather from somewhere. Appa slowly came back to his senses. He was not sure how long he had been lying there nor was Sandhya. Unabashed Appa asked Sandhya what she was doing there. Sandhya told him, he was too drunk and was lying on the road when the people around walked totally unaffected. Appa slowly got up. Sandhya got up behind her appa. Somu looked on. Appa noticed that his right leg’s slipper had loyally stuck his leg, while the left one had been abandoned far behind. He slowly walked to get back the unfaithful fellow, forgetting how unfaithful his life had turned to be. Sandhya strode behind appa. After wearing his slippers, he started walking in the direction of the Bar. Sandhya called out. Appa did not care to turn. She ran behind and pulled his hand. He quickly loosened her grip and continued walking.
With no choice left, Sandhya turned towards her home. Somu asked Sandhya, “Akka, where is uncle going yet again?” Sandhya’s throat choked with pain. She did not bother to answer Somu, but she asked Somu not to tell ‘amma’ about this. While Somu nodded, Sandhya took his hand in hers and walked with tears brimming in her eyes.