It was 5AM when Aarav’s mobile rang. An early morning call always panicked him. His dad wasn’t keeping well since the past one week.
“Hello, beta. Your dad’s condition has worsened since yesterday. The doctor has asked me to inform you…” Aarav’s uncle said.
Aarav gulped down a lump that had risen in his throat.
His dad was all he had. And vice versa. He didn’t remember his mother, who had died soon after giving birth to him. His dad hadn’t remarried, and solely taken care of him amidst adversities. Aarav had been a bright student and his dad had always encouraged him to study as much as he wished to, without worrying about the finances. After completing B.E, Aarav had secured a high-paying job in the US. With a heavy heart, his dad had blessed him and let go.
On his way to work, Aarav’s mind was a maelstrom of thoughts. While one part of him coerced to pay his dad a visit, the other part argued about the impending promotion that he was sanguine about receiving. He had worked pretty hard this year, after all.
“It’s just a matter of two weeks.” He thought to himself. “After that, I can leave.”
The other part of him argued, “What if dad doesn’t survive till then?”
He clamped his eyes shut, dismayed at the ephemeral pessimistic thought.
In the evening, he sat on a bench in the park. Whenever his mind was cluttered with wandering thoughts, he loved to watch people. He observed a father-son duo playing football. The father was still in his janitor’s uniform, while his son, about eight or ten-year-old, laughed and played.
Aarav reminisced his childhood days, when he used to play cricket with his dad. Even after a hard day at work, his dad always spent time with him. He would deliberately get out, so that Aarav could bat. A smile crept out of his lips. He watched intently at the father, who looked weary, but his eyes still shone each time his son kicked a goal.
“Dad, I’m hungry.” The boy announced.
“How about a burger?” The father said pointing towards a food truck.
The boy jumped joyfully.
“Won’t you also have, dad?”
“Oh, I’m so full. I had a heavy meal for lunch.” The father patted his stomach.
Aarav had heard this line many times before. When his dad knew he couldn’t afford two plates of thali*, this was the usual lie he told with a genuine smile. Aarav had been too young to comprehend then. But today, he realized the intentions behind it. A father who had sacrificed everything for his son just needed one thing in return- his time!
By sunset, Aarav had made up his mind. He felt lighter, as if a crushing boulder had rolled off his chest. He was ready to leave, but not before buying food for the janitor- an altruistic father who had helped him dismantle his impediment.
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