Sitting in my plush office, going through regular data sheets & performance charts, I wasn’t feeling too good. It was not business that was troubling me….
8.28pm , gleamed the digital clock at my desk. Something was not right. No, it wasn’t the time. This was something that did not happen everyday and I was hoping that everything was fine. The same question kept popping up again and again in my mind, “Why hasn’t dad called today?”
It was not that I enjoyed his calls (which came on a daily basis and that too when I am busy). But then when am I not busy! My business was soaring high and I did not have a minute to spare for anything else. Came office early in the morning and was up working till late. Prachi, my wife, worked as a teacher in a prestigious institution and was out most of the day. Back at home, we had a servant looking after my Dad’s needs.
It was not that I did not Love him. I had taken care of all his requirements. Since his retirement and mom’s death, I have always tried to keep him happy. And I guess I was successful in doing so. Attending his meaning less calls was also a part of the mission. I wanted him to feel that he was important. Wanted him to feel? I mean he is important. I did love him. But it was just his calls, sometimes even thrice a day that irritated me.
His conversation usually started off with “Hi son! What are you doing?” and then was followed by simple household problems like the geyser is not working or the fence needs a new coat of paint. Sometimes, he even discussed sports! India’s current performance in cricket, Sania’s power-swing and how he scored a goal today playing football with kids in the park. I patiently listened to all this and tried to enjoy what he was saying.
But today was something different. He had not called in even once. Oh! Don’t know why am I thinking so much over this matter. Maybe dad did not have anything interesting to discuss today, which is surprising though.
I thought instead of worrying over this it would be better if I checked my daily mail. I entered my login id and password. Just then the phone rang. I leapt towards it, praying that it would be dad’s call. Sticking the receiver to my ears, I waited to hear that familiar voice and then it came, “Hi son! What are you doing?”
“Nothing dad, same as usual”, I said, letting out a sigh of of relief. Afterall I did love him. “You calling in so late dad?” I went on.
“I was waiting for your call, son.”
Oh! Yes, I could have done that, but why would I!? Anyways, I said, ”Sorry, was busy dad!”
“So how was your day? I hope that television got repaired.”
“Yes, the mechanic came and fixed it. Day was fine, its just that I wanted…”
I felt relieved that he was fine but I was not ready for his daily complaints. So I interrupted, “Now what do you want dad?” I started getting irritated. His list of problems would be put forward again, I thought.
“….I wanted it to be better”, said my dad.
I did not get what he did mean and said, “ok dad…take care, I will get back to my work now.”
“Yes…yes. Work is important…..”saying this he hung up.
His voice lacked the daily enthusiasm, I felt. But forget it, he is fine and that’s what matters. I went back to checking my e-mails. My inbox had the daily stuff. Quotations, advertisements, discount coupons, a reminder….a reminder!? I opened it and an overpowering sense of guilt enveloped me. The body of the mail had just one line, ‘Its your dad’s birthday!’
I forgot his birthday? How could I? Now I understood why he sounded dull or rather sad and didn’t call up until this moment. All day long he was waiting for my call! And I claim to be a very loving and caring son.
Dad had never missed any of my birthdays. Even to this day, he has gift ready for me on the occasion. It’s such a shame, that I forgot such an important day. He calls in everyday but I never realized that all he wants to do is spend some time with his so-very-busy son. Recently, work became my top priority and I forgot everything. Not just my dad, even my wife, my responsibilities towards them. Did I really love my family? Did I get my priorities right? Was I neglecting my family?
I should call him, I thought. But how!? I did not have the courage to talk to him. But I will have to…. I dialed the number and waited for him to take the call.
“Hello…” came his voice.
“It’s me, dad.”
“What happened son?” he said sounding confused.
I hesitated. How should I say?
“I am so sorry dad. Happy Birthday I just can’t seem to think, how I could forget something this imp…”
“Shut up. Thank you. I was waiting…” he started crying.
I was in tears too. “I am really sorry dad.”
“So what’s there for my birthday gift?”
I smiled and said, “It’s me dad…you got back your son!”
— Originally Posted on walkingthroughlife.sulekha.com on 3rd Jan 2007
— Published in the May, 07 issue of DNA’s “Me” magazine
— All rights reserved © Piyush Agarwal firstname.lastname@example.org