I walked up the dainty stairs, light-footed, and I could see him comfortable on the opposite red couch with a newspaper in his hand, as usual. The distance of our room and stairs were less than 3m, and yet that was the longest journey every day. But that didn't worry me anymore as tiptoeing was now my forte. I started my journey with my schoolbag clenched tightly on the side and carefully stepping on the dry floor.
"You guys arrived!' The room went numb.
"Ye..es daddy," I said in a low voice. His eyes were still scanning the newspaper.
"Go eat, help your mother in chores, and then get back to study!"
"Ok daddy.", I rushed inside, where my heartbeat was in rhythm again. While rushing inside, I stupidly thumped the door.
"Sorry, daddy." He peeked through the paper, and there it was- the eye, which I never thought would change my world one day.
My father had elephantiasis, a parasitic disease caused by a worm and transmitted through a female mosquito. In this condition, when a human gets stung by a mosquito, his whole body gets swelled up, which leads to swollen legs like elephants'. My grandfather took his three kids to a small picnic where the kids got stung by the worm, and the two kids who were too lazy to go luckily saved themselves by staying home. Since childhood, my father had the disease, which later got mixed with an add-on called blood pressure. His blood pressure was always much higher than usual. But he never cared. I never saw a frown on his face in the twelve years with him. He loved my mother and was an old-school romantic with her, but when it came to us, he was stern, disciplined, and aloof.
"Pass me my glasses," he ordered my mother.
The three of us were standing in a vertical line in front of him in his room, terrified and shivering. Xain and Shiraz, both elder to me, were not good in studies and would face this same ominous set up every year on the day of our results. They always made me stand first in line so that my good grades would calm daddy a little.
"Pass me your report card, Jasmine" I immediately passed it on, which made it fall on the ground. I kicked myself for being so naive and undisciplined. I rushed to pick it up and passed it to him with a staple of a small "sorry" attached.
He silently looked at it and asked me to sit on his bed, close to him. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I hesitated but then sat at a safe 30 cms distance from him. In case he decided to slap me, I would be able to dodge. My grades were good but my mouth was completely dry.
"One day, you'll make me proud", he smiled fawning over my 8th standard mark sheet, encircling a score of 85%. Sadly, as an ode to my ill-fate, that was the only time I witnessed the love of my father.
One day, I snuck into his room to see his collection of pens, stamps, and souvenirs. As I dragged my hand along his study table, I found a small box. To resolve my curiosity, I opened it. And that was the moment that threw me across the room. I got scared, frightened, unable to catch my breath.
"Is this what I think it is?" I asked myself. The peeking eye haunted me. I didn't have the audacity to re-open it as I haven't seen a human eye outside the socket. It instantly tethered me to the rawness of death and the mortality of humans. I felt that the eye seized my whole life within its small circumference. It knows my being inside out, what I want to be and what I can become. I could see my eleven years, whatever I could remember of it, embossed in the eye, jury of my actions. I felt terrible at the things I knew nothing of.
A year later, the eye finally bowed from my world. It never looked back at me, never matched my line of sight. It did what it intended to do, observed me, found my flaws, and spoke the unspeakable reality with its fakeness. It perished in the wake of my two flawless eyes, ingraining the emotion of care, discipline, values, and originality.
It is no more, but I can sense it shadowing me. When I make a mistake, I see its stillness, its conflicting presence, disappointed and disdained. In hindsight because it judged me then, I am a better person now, how else in this world of abundant naturals, I could find my vision in a FAKE.