The Betrayal

I claim my suitcase from the conveyer belt and rush to the taxi booking window. I am flying as if my feet have a hoverboard underneath. I can’t wait to see my father. Though I have been seeing him daily on Facetime, it’s been 5 years and I have not seen the real him.   

My father, who has this incredible art of ruling the hearts.  He has been working as a theatre artist for the past three decades.  All these years he has managed to impersonate any character but himself.  I have never and I can never know the real him.  When I tried to dig too deep, he sent me to the United States to pursue my career in cinematography. 

Therefore, I was away from him for five long years.  I still remember how he was almost in tears when he dropped me at the airport.  I was young and naïve.  I was too selfish, and I only wanted to chase my dreams then.

The taxi honks and breaks my chain of thoughts.  I slip in with excitement since I am just a few minutes away from him. I am dying to see his expression when he suddenly sees me at the door.  That’s why I have kept my visit a surprise for him.  In a few minutes, I reach home.  I ring the doorbell and to my dismay, I see mom first.  

“Oh, Aditya… Hi…I mean…how are you…suddenly…here…you didn’t tell us that you were coming.”

Her face is pale as if I have caught her red-handed. She seems unkempt at this hour of the day and hassled unnecessarily.    

“Hi mom, where’s dad?” I throw a question without answering to any of hers.

“He is away”, her voice quivered.

I enter the house and find two empty cups of tea on the center table in the living room.

“Where did he go today? He is usually home on Mondays. We spoke every week at this time while I was in the US.  Was he not expecting my call today?” I am feeling restless and my mom doesn’t really seem to care.    

“He left early in the morning today.  I didn’t check where he was going but he said he’ll be back by dinner. Why don’t you just freshen up while I prepare tea for you.” While she clears the tray of empty cups from the dining table, I spot a pack of cigarettes on the table.

I know dad doesn’t smoke, or he does?  Were there any guests today?” I can’t find any answers.  I walked towards my room.  As I pass through my mom’s bedroom, I see the door of the balcony open.  I know a staircase leads to the back lane, out of the house.  

I always had this feeling that mom is having an affair.  It was very strong before I went to the States and this was one of the major reasons for me to leave the country.  I was expecting that it will be over, but nothing has changed.

My mother never had that motherly love for me.   At times, I feel I am an imposed child on her.  We never shared a bond, I never felt connected to her and there was no magnetism between us like it is usually seen in a mother-son relationship.

Dad comes back late evening and bursts into tears seeing me suddenly.  He just can’t hold his emotions and sobs for a while hugging me. I was deprived of this warm hug for so many years.  My eyes are teary, and I want to live in this moment forever.

While I am busy chatting with dad, mom is just fulfilling duties in the house.  She doesn’t seem to be excited to see me after years. She was never interested in what’s happening in my life, but she now seems disinterested in dad too.  How can a man take this? And why should he?  I have seen dad has left no stone unturned to keep her happy, but she never respected it.  For her, marriage or motherhood was nothing beyond fulfilling duties.

My parents call it a night, a few hours after dinner.  I am jetlagged and the clock of my body is disturbed after the travel across time zones, I can’t sleep.  The urge to know the secret about my mom is even stronger now.  It is troubling me more this time.  Why does she behave like this? I still have a few memories of my childhood, but not happy ones.  She always maintained a distance from me.  She was and still seems to be very possessive about her phone, cupboard, room, and never allowed me to come close to her.

With all these thoughts in my mind, I quietly stepped out of the house to take a stroll in the back lane.  It’s 5 am and I am standing right in front of Mr. Mehra’s house.  Mr. Mehra is one of those rich, spoilt, flamboyant men who are famous for either money or women that they own.

By the look of his newly renovated house, it seems that he still has deep pockets.  Suddenly, I see a woman coming out of the house.   “Is he married?  The woman seems familiar.  Mr. Mehra holds her hand and accompanies her to the porch.  He hugs her and plants a kiss on her forehead before she comes out from the automated steel gate.    On a closer look, I realize it’s my mother.  

I can’t believe my eyes, it’s her.  At this moment I feel like I should stand tall and give her a tight slap.  “How can she do this to the man who has loved her the most? What about this shameless creature Mr. Mehra.  He pretends to be dad’s best friend.”   I am feeling genuinely disgusted.

I rush back home immediately.  I want dad to know this, now!  It’s already 5.30 am and I see my mom creeping into the house.   As she heads to the kitchen I slither to her bedroom and wake dad up.  He wakes up with a jerk and puts on his glasses and says, “are you ok?”

“shhhhhh, keep quiet,” I said.  

“What is it?”

“I want you to know something very important.”

He looks confused and I don’t want him to live in any confusions here on

“I believe mom is having an affair.”

He ignores and pulls the sheet back on him.

“Dad…” I whispered again. 

“It’s time to wake up.   Do you know she is having an affair?”

“Yes, I know,” he said.

I feel, he is still sleepy and not heard it right.   But he must know, and I shake him again.

“Dad, please listen to me carefully.  You don’t know mom is cheating on you.  She is having an affair and she doesn’t care about you or me.  I am fine, but I love you, and I just can’t take this.”

He finally sits up, calm and peaceful as if he has heard nothing.

“I know she is having an affair and it is very old. Tell me something new.”

I can’t believe my ears but regaining myself I make another attempt

“Do you know who it is?”

“Yes, I know, my son, and I know everything else that you want to tell me. I also know that she loves you and me”

 I hug him tight as tears escape my eyes.

Gathering enough courage to look into his eyes, I begin, “Why are you allowing her to do this to you.  Be a man, and don’t let her break your heart anymore.”

He smiles and hugs me even tighter. I just can’t stop sobbing and he is trying his best to console me.  I want to pour my heart out, all of it.  The emotions that I have been holding for years have now turned into the tsunami of tears.  I always had high regard for him but today, he is nothing less than God to me.  Only God can forgive the way he does.

I can hear mom’s hurried steps in the veranda.  Perhaps, she is coming with the morning tea.  Both of us look at each other and there is a silent agreement to pretend everything is normal.  The moment she walks in, I storm out to the room. Though we never had a normal relationship, I never hated her.  Today, hate is an understated word to express my feelings for her.

I am devastated and to my dismay, I do not even know how to deal with it.  How can life be so cruel?  There’s nothing worse than seeing your loved one in such agony.  I am ashamed of my helplessness. I had come here for a week, but I don’t want to go back.  No, not without my father.  I am not leaving him in this hell to suffer.  He deserves truth, honesty, love, care, companionship, and not just a woman in the house.

I haven’t stepped out of the room since morning even after mom has repeatedly called me for the breakfast. Dad calls me for lunch and I just can’t say no to him.  Mom has cooked an elaborate meal today, but why? Does she already know that I caught her in the morning?” Whatever it is, it’s a futile attempt to cover up her sins.  I feel suffocated in her presence.

I just want to go away from her.  I gobble the food in haste, and it chokes me.  While I am coughing hard, she pats my back.  I push her hand away. I don’t want her vile hands to touch me.

“Just stay away, I am fine”, I said through gritted teeth.  

She gives an astonishing look and my dad blinks his eyes signaling her to stay calm.

Soon after lunch, I am back in my room.  I have stopped to keep the track of time now.  Jetlag pushes me into the deep sleep and I never want to wake up. Perhaps this is the right cure for me. I should sleep forever now.  

I wake up to dad sitting at the corner of my bed at around 10 pm.  His fingers comb through my hair and yet again I feel the same touch of love. I hold his palm in mine and there I see, a smile on his face.  

“Please be nice to your mom, for my sake”, he says before I can speak anything.

“Can I ask you something, dad?  Please answer honestly”

“Yes, of course, I promise I will tell you only the truth”

“Is mom my biological mother?”

“Yes, she is.”

I sighed.  

He thinks for a while and continues, “I never thought, or I never wanted you find this out. Alas! You have. There’s nothing that we can do about it, but I think you should now move on.  A few things are beyond control in life.  I have booked a table in a club tonight. It’s one of the most happening places these days in town.  Let’s go and have some beer.”

Dad is an artist.  It’s nothing herculean for him to bring a smile on my face.  I am feeling a bit lighter knowing that she has given birth to me.  Yet this is still not a reason for me to forgive her.  Why can’t I be like him?  A man with such a big heart.

Around 11.30pm we reach “Delton”, the club in the suburbs of the town.  Looking at the ambiance, this sparkling place seems to be for youngsters. While we sit at the bar, dad orders two draught beers.   I can see numerous heads, a few shaking at the dance floor, and a few moving with the rhythm of the music, a few neatly gelled, and a few with colored streaks. The only salt and pepper head I can see is of my father.   

The music is loud, and I am feeling much enlivened now.  Suddenly, I feel two soft palms cupping my eyes.  The moment I feel them, a soft voice falls into my ears, “Do you know me?” 

I can’t even imagine who it is. I have lost touch with all my friends.  I vaguely remember a few names and utter them.  After a few wrong attempts, she allows me to see her.  She appears from nowhere right in front of me.   

“Fool…it’s me”

It takes a few seconds for me and I recognize her, “Nyshaa…”

She hugs me and I feel a little awkward. Perhaps times have changed.

“When did you come? You didn’t even keep in touch after you went to the US.  How is everything and for how many days are you here?”  She is throwing questions at me without even giving me a single chance to respond to any of them.

“I am fine, and I am here for the next few days. Meet my dad.”

She is taken aback but regains herself quickly, “Hello uncle.”

She has sensed that I am wondering if she is alone and she quickly says,

“I have come with my friends and I am sure you will be glad to meet them.”  She waves at someone on the dance floor.  I see a bunch of girls and boys coming towards her. A few familiar faces and rest are new. 

I can recognize my old friends while I am meeting some new people too.  Though my old and new friends are trying to include my dad in all conversations, yet he is feeling a little out of place.  He excuses himself when he is sure that someone will drop me back home.

It’s already 2 am and I am a few drinks down.  Nyshaa is fidgeting because it’s getting late. It seems she doesn’t want to misuse the independence that she enjoys owing to her liberal parents. A chauffeur-driven car is waiting for her, but she finds it impossible to convince any of her friends to go with her.

“Can you accompany me home? I don’t want to go alone at this hour.  Come with me, the driver will drop you home too.”

Maybe she is not used to listening and only questions.  Before I say anything, she holds my hand walks out, piercing the crowd.  

The car speeds on the deserted roads and she rest her head on my shoulder holding my hand.  She is talking continuously but I keep slipping back to my mom and her affair.  She has authoritatively obtained for my contact number before I have dropped her.  I reach home at around 3:00 am but my body has yet not acclimatized to the region.

I am restless and I know nothing can calm me down.   I am tempted to go to Mr. Mehra’s house today again but I choose otherwise.  I take the other road for an early morning walk but end up reaching his house.  I do not know whether it is intentional, but I still feel yesterday was a bad dream.  Alas! it’s not. I see mom coming out of his house again today.

I come back home before her and all I want is to sleep.   In the afternoon I wake up to guffaws echoing in the house.  I come out of my room only to see Mr. Mehra chatting with Dad. For a second, I think that dad doesn’t know who it is, but I remember he very clearly said that he does know.

I see my mom smiling and happy for the first time since I have come.  She is actively serving fritters and giggling with the man.   I just can’t take this, and I will confront both of them right now.   I am about to burst out, but I hear a doorbell and I see Nyshaa coming in.   Like yesterday she is the one who is speaking, and I am with her, with or without reasons.  I feel happier with her.

A few days have passed, and I am spending most of my time with Nyshaa.  Dad is busy these days with his next play and spends most of the time in the theatre.  Though I have never checked, I am sure Mr. Mehra too must be having a good time with mom.  I keep consoling myself, “I don’t care”, but I actually do,  and I just can’t get over it.

Today, it’s Monday again. 

Mom is out for shopping and dad is cooking for me.

“I think Nyshaa feels for you”, he says.

“You think? Why?”

“Well, I know her father through a common friend and he asked me if you want to marry her.  Her parents also know that you spend a lot of time together. Let me tell you she wants to marry you.”

I am confused about what to say. I can’t marry her ever, I know. I also know that my father doesn’t deserve any more secrets.  He deserves to know the real me.  I must tell him the truth and bracing myself for the worst I say,

“Dad, I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t give you any false hopes. I can never marry her or any other woman for that matter. 

Please don’t misunderstand me but the truth is…I am gay, and I have a boyfriend in the US.”

Dad chuckles, I don’t think so he can comprehend what I just said. I clear my throat, and speak a little louder,

“Dad, I am gay, you don’t know what it is to be like one.”

“I know what it is to be like.  I thought this will go with me to the grave.  Good, you know why I was always Ok with your mom’s affair.  Everyone has the right to choose a happy life.  At times we have to keep it under the carpet because the world cannot accept it.  There’s nothing worse than getting into a marriage that is not meant for you.”

I come back only to book my tickets for the next week to the US.

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Vandana Saxena
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