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His Salvation

Rishabh Kumar

So, what do you say a father is? Allow me to answer you… Father, is just a man, a mere man who becomes what is demanded of him; stern, harsh, cold and distant, hateful at times, reserved… lost. That was my father. On the day of his funeral I saw many unfamiliar faces, many people showed up, peculiar you say? It was, consider my awe stricken state where I got many embraces from complete stranger; they said things like “Richard was a good man son.” “Thank you, sir” I said to the old man who shook my hand with a more than firm hold. “Your father always adorned a smile on his face.” “My father… smiled?” I said to the woman while she kissed my cheek. After everyone left and only the family remained, a family which included my mother in the ground right beside him, my father finally where he wanted to be after years apart from her and now just a few feet away from his paramour… at peace he was, I knew it, and I, standing right there in the middle of these two placing my hand on the tombstone, I read out loud “devoted mother? I wish that I would have seen that, you have him now. Don’t let go of him as he never did.” That walk, I remember it, the trees lost their green, the cold breeze made me shiver, I burry my hands in my coat pockets as I walked “krrp kkrut” the sound my steps made as I walk on this amber land, now was the time to reminisce and that what I did.
I pictured him walking me to the school, how he always kept me at an arm’s length, how he never waved goodbye, how he never told me what was I… a son, a burden, a disappointment, a failure, I never knew which one of these I was. I was all of these, deep down he loathed me for what I did, I took away his paramour I took her life when she blessed me with mine. That is why he never looked at me, he saw a killer. He gave me silences and I filled them with all of the truth that I had the sagacity to see and the valour to shoulder. I was the one who gave him what he wanted but was too weak to ask for, my absence. I left home when I was eight, got into one of the most prestigious boarding schools not because I possessed the aptitude for such a place but because I had a void within, and no matter how high my aspirations get as soon as I achieve them, I am rewarded, not with content, no, but the truth of how trivial and inconsequential the whole exploit was. This whole ordeal never ceased and neither did I.
Before my mind could wander any farther into the abyss her gentle touch got me out. She had this power over me, I could be whatever she wanted me to, I was hers but she was not. Who is she you ask? MY paramour who has yet to love me. Every fiber of my being wanted her, my soul… she has her name etched on it. Wait. Stop. An inquisition? What did she say? Condolences? Wh-hat? She is holding me, I feel her heart beating. Do you feel mine? Look at me? Can’t you see me? Feel me? If you could know your worth? Can I give you something? What you ask? No-no nothing valuable… I assure you, just… all of me till the end of time. Can I ask to spend some time with you? Oh… you can’t? but it is just the fraction of time that I truly need, I know my place… I wouldn’t ask too much of you. An eternity is all I ask. Would you want that? Why don’t you say anything? Give me something… a nod? An affirmation? No, why? Oh I should be wise enough to not to ask for “why” in life, you would want that. Don’t you? I do not want to disappoint you. I would feign. Be a malinger of happiness for you. A smile, you want to see me smile? Here. You see? Happy I am! You smile… what is it that blessed me with such a sight? Me? I did that? How can that be? You made me. I am yours. W-hat? “idiot” you say? Hey. Don’t go… stay, please. Why? No… I shouldn’t ask. Don’t leave me, please I want you. Don’t leave me, I need you! Look back… just once, don’t I mean anything to you? Once please… no? okay, I am fine. I would stand here, here where you left me until you come back. You will, won’t you? No! don’t answer that I am alright, I am fine. Please walk on, leave.
I entered his home and found David, David, my only companion, my friend, my brother but don’t tell him that I hate him, that is all he should know out loud. The one who could get me out of the emaciated state my paramour puts me in. "You are alright. Don't fake the sorrow. I saw her, you’ll be fine." Said he, as he puts his hand on my head and run his palm over my head. He was the one I needed to see, David knew me and I took pride in the bond we shared, it had been a year since we first met, I never have to say anything to him, perhaps that is what we both shared hence the affinity. We never spoke much but each other's company would always work out for the both of us. We sat down he became the bridge for my ruminations, as we sat together. “So, how was it? Said your goodbyes?” said he, as pushed the cup of tea to me, he didn’t drink any of these beverages, tea, coffee nothing. I picked the cup, took a sip and prepared to speak. He was the only person who could hear me, he was there… just a couple years ahead but there. “He smiled. He was a good man. They spoke of the man who was not my father.” I took other sip, “you never knew him, you left didn’t you?” “But those eight years! I knew him you prick!” “you didn’t.” “I did!” “you didn’t!” Now he dragging an old dusty box, “anyways I checked on your dorm and there was this for you, I carried it for you. I know, I know, I am the best.” “I hate you. Give it here!” I picked it up and placed on the table. It was taped, and a label that said “Regards from Mareve.” “Mareve? Who is Mareve?” I asked out loud waiting to be answered by someone. I looked around and David had left. Now overwhelmed by great physical fatigue I lay on my bed. It had been ages, so this is nostalgia? I shut my eyes deliberately, I couldn’t sleep, but I shut my eyes not to sleep, as I know that it does not come to me. I shut them to return to reality, a reality where my paramour loves me, where my wife has married me, where my muse had blessed me. But this is no denial, deep down I do know that this is but another blissful reverie but don’t let me remind myself that okay? Let me be hers.
I woke up the next morning to find a letter it said my name “R*****” I opened it up and started to read as I sat myself down on a chair I didn’t took notice of. I begin reading.
“You can’t think, you do not understand what she does to you. It is written all over you, can’t segregate her, right? Where to place her? The world; that you detest, or your solitude; where you detest yourself. Place her somewhere, she deserve a spot. Don’t wait for her to leave you. I know there are no emotions within you, afraid aren’t you? She invokes them doesn’t she? Whatever he was, you turned out to be a good man. How wrong can he be? Right? Okay I will take my leave. If you need me don’t write to me!
I crushed the page and left his house. I begin walking aimlessly; I wandered around “krrp kkrut kritt” my footsteps giving me the sound I needed. Now I could reminisce in peace, he never told me about him, his childhood his family, nothing, he used sit in his study the entire time he is not working; I picture myself as I child when I used to stand on the door of his study while he scribbles in a notebook. I never saw that notebook anytime else, whenever I saw it, it had his hands on it.
Now I sat on the bench without realizing that there is someone right in front of me. Who could that be? Huh a breeze… This aroma? Sweet as the nectar of the gods! Familiar, should I dare to look up? I should, shouldn’t I? I see the sun, such warmth in such a cold desolate place. Why cometh here? Tis’ too nigh. Nay stay, do not asunder from what is thine. Wh-hat? I couldn’t hear you, let me stand up so I could look you. Yes I might blind myself but I couldn’t help it. No! tears why now? After all this time, after such torment why you deceive me? Why not then?! Why now when I am inches apart from utter happiness?! What? No I am not crying, these are just the consequences of looking at the sun. What? Cloudy is it? No I see my sun. Hey, don’t look at me that way. Wh-hat? You’re getting close to me, putting your hand on my face. But why? No I shouldn’t. I shall kiss your hand as you place it on my cheek. There. Placing your face on mine, shall I kiss that too. I shall. You look at me, why do you turn when I look into your eyes? Why turn your face and put your cheek out for me, I know my place, I would not kiss your lips. I want to, but I won’t. It doesn’t matter what I want. I shall hold you in my arms. Hold you as tightly as I can. Won’t let you go! No, I am not trembling. Tis’ the cold my lady. Yes, tighten your hold on me. Embrace my soul. The soul you put together, picked up every sliver and fragment, and placed it back together ah such grace in those movements, such symphony! I do not want to disturb it. What you crafted it? Well if you crafted it then why don’t you keep it? It is your creation, is it not? Wh-hat? You cannot! But why? No! I should not ask… No, I am not trembling. Why does every fibre of my being betray me? Perhaps it is their devotion to their goddess. No I cannot look at you. Y-you make me, are these your hands on my face? They are… I shall take another look into those dark doe brown eyes of yours. What? Where? Why? I ceased to exist. You leaving? Why? No I shouldn’t ask. ‘You have to’ you say? But it is too early. What? But it is still not enough! It never is! Alright… I have to let you go now… I know, almost there… a moment more, just a moment. Can’t you look at me? You did. Why do you leave then? Can you not see? No I shouldn’t ask. Walk on, do not look back. I am fine.
Why take his life? After so many years why now? I had the answers but I was such a coward! There was my answer, walking away and I letting her! Pathetic! You sniveling coward! You weep! You tremble! Weakling!
I rushed back to his house, Mareve! I said to myself. Mareve! Said the wind. Mareve! Said the every one of my footsteps! The trees! The horizon, it was dusk; sky painted in shades of tangerine. Is this contentment? I asked myself. I looked up and saw her. I stood still in the middle of the street until the shades faded into the dark deep sea in the sky. I entered the house, I picked up the box and opened it up; it had an unaddressed letter and one addressed to me, the notebook, and odd things like hair pins, a bracelet, a pair of earrings and many other belongings that could never be his. I read the unaddressed letter first it said.
“Dear Richard,
I hope you are in good health. It has been years since you came back home. Richard, I know about Rachelle and I am done mourning her, you still have a place in my home and my heart. I cannot thank you enough for what you did on her behalf. It was never your obligation to take care of my mother as you did, as you might have heard she could not stay apart from her daughter for too long. She is at peace now. What you did for her town would never be forgotten. How did you smile without her Richard? How could you do what you did whilst everything reminded you that she is not with you? I cannot put my feelings to words, you spared her from such pain while you suffered from the same. I should stop writing, come home if you can. It just as much yours as it was hers.
Love, Robyn”
I picked up the notebook; reading through the pages… it was for me, every word he wanted to say to me. “You look at me for acceptance, son I am beneath you. You would be so much better than I. I know it.” “You are angry today, you should be but you do not need me son. I want you to grow into the space I made between you and I.” “Son, you finally left me. At such a young age you found a place for yourself. I am proud of you, but I know you will grow out of that too. Keep moving son, I with you.” Every day he wanted to talk to me. He wanted to tell me his ‘Why?’ but I had made my choice, I left him. What I wouldn’t do to walk with him to school, as he puts on this show and I look through the disguise of the cold, distant man and see my father.
I could not stop now. I took the other letter “Son” the first word I read. I closed the letter tracing its crease and sat myself down on a chair obliviously and it was now I realize that the chair I obliviously sit on was his arm chair. This was a cry, a sign from the universe. I picked up the letter again.
I am not a good man for leaving you like this, but you do not need me I made sure of that. You’re a capable man, a good man, with a pure soul, and that does not come easy. I would know. I was not a good man to begin with, I gave my word to your mother that I will not leave her side, I will live for her and die with her in my arms. As you know son I am a liar. I broke my word every day for the past twenty years. My life is not mine to give son, but it is hers to ask for and she did! This isn’t the end, it is my salvation. After all these years, I would see her again! Oh son I wish you would have seen her. She was the most beautiful woman in this world. I know you would find yours someday and mine wouldn’t compare. I am not a good man, or a good husband, or a good father but I was a man and a husband and most importantly a father. I take pride in being one.
Love now and always
Your Father”

So, we are back at the beginning. Who is a father? “What do you say Ryan?” “well a man, just a man like you.” “Like me huh?” “Thank you… I” “Ryannnn!!” “Go on they want you. You know I named you.” “You did, didn’t you? I hate this name” “Go on now I will be back next week to check on you, okay? I have to speak to the father now.” “You finally adopting me?” “You are not that lucky kid!” “Hey but where is she?” “…Go on already before I kick you!” “Catch me first old man! Hahaha!” “See… a smile, how do I look?”

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